How I Got Started and What I Wish I Knew When Starting My Photography Business

Just starting out with your business? Look for tips or want to know how I got started? Well, then take a read below and let's chat!

I'll be talking about how I got started with my business, and what things I wish I knew more of when I dived in head first.

Getting Started

My First Camera

After I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to be in Communications, sitting at a desk, 9-5pm, killing the corporate business game. Once I hit college and started my degree, everything was all fine and dandy until I asked for my first DSLR camera for Christmas back in 2013.

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When I first received my Canon T3i, I started taking pictures as much as I could. I was walking up to the park and taking pictures of flowers, I had the opportunity to study abroad in London and take landscape photos, but then I started taking pictures of some of my best friends. In doing that, I found that I actually REALLY love taking portraits of people!

I started then taking portraits for graduating seniors and taking pictures of people whenever I could, making some money on the side. But it still hadn't occurred to me that this could be a career for me. 

Wedding Coordinating

When I returned home from studying abroad, I was required to start an internship for college credit. I chose a wedding coordinating internship with a great company down in San Diego, and did about 15 weddings in 1 Fall season... aka, a LOT of weddings! 

During that process, I learned that I really did love being a part of weddings. Being a part of an exciting day and celebrating with awesome people was just a lot of fun to me - and honestly, I wasn't too exhausted from it!

But, I also learned that in no way ever could I be a successful wedding coordinator. It's just too stressful, and honestly, I wasn't finding joy in that part of weddings.

My Big Girl Job

When I eventually graduated from my alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University, I started a marketing job for a local tech company here in Orange County, CA. I was working that 9-5pm job and felt like a true big girl at my nice big girl job. When I started, I thought this was going to be my career - sitting at a desk answering emails, posting to social media, and strategizing marketing projects.

I quickly realized that this is not where my passion was.

I kept sitting at my desk thinking, "There are so many other things I could be doing with my life than sitting here answering emails." And while I was making stable money, I still wasn't being filled in the way that a career should fill you (if you're passionate about it, which I believe you should be if you're going to do it for the rest of your working adult life).

So I did some hard thinking. What did I realllyyy want to do?

Started My Business

In January of 2017, I decided to officially start my wedding photography business. 

I found so much joy in weddings and photography, that it only made sense to combine the two and make a business out of it. Immediately when I started, I was terrified. How was I going to make ends meet and pay these bills? Not to mention, I was a newlywed with my lovely husband, and we had a whole bunch of new bills to pay for our new apartment, phone, internet, Netflix... how was I going to make this work?

Well, I started diving in head first and getting as much experience I could, while investing in some pretty big financial decisions. I bought my first two professional cameras and some lenses - 2 Canon 5D Mk III's, my Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens, my Canon 50mm 1.2 lens, and my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens (the beast!). Once I had acquired all my gear, I knew I was ready to go.

I started reaching out to photographers in my area, going with them to weddings, learning what I liked and what I didn't like, how to shoot weddings properly and not miss those important once-in-a-lifetime shots.

Then eventually, I started booking my own weddings! By announcing on social media and sharing that I had started this business, people started to notice my work and reach out to me. 

I think I started at a good time because a lot of my friends are at the age where they are getting married, so it was easy for them to think of me when it came to booking a wedding photographer - because they already knew me, and they knew my work.

If you're looking to book more clients and for ways to market yourself, check out last weeks post about 5 Ways to Market Your Photography Business!

What I Wish I Knew 

Organization

When it comes to photography, you know that you will have SO many photos and files to organize - and it can be a little overwhelming! 

I wish I had known from the get-go how to properly organize my files in the most efficient way - and how to back everything up in case a hard drive fails (which folks, just happened to me and I was so glad to have had a back-up plan in place!!).

How I organize my files now is by Year, Month, and Client Name. This helps me keep track of who needs to be edited next (in my backlog), and when last year or this year their wedding or session was.

Flash

This may sound silly and not something we really think about, but guys... flashes are more complicated than you think, especially when you're just starting out!

Did you know pointing your flash at different walls, ceilings, and subjects changes the way your photos look? Because I sure didn't when I was starting out!

SO, learn your flash. Learn how to use it and what settings get what look.

I shoot in manual, and if I'm indoors, I point my flash towards the white ceiling (most ceilings are white in ballrooms), and that creates a beautiful rebounded light effect which lights up the subject almost perfectly.

When outdoors, I'm bring out my white reflector (which comes with every professional camera, watch video above for more), and this creates a softer light to balance the shadows than if you were to just point the entire flash at the subject.

Lightroom and Software Knowledge

Okay, I don't know about you, but it took me FOREVER to learn how to use Lightroom the way that I wanted to! In fact, I'm still learning new things every day!

I recommend learning your software so so well so you know what look you want and how to get that look. Ways you can do this can be by purchasing some presets and tweaking some elements to make it your own style.

For me, I use Ben Sasso's Heck Yeah Art Pack as my foundation for my edits, and then from those I've created my own presets that have more of the design and edit I'm looking for.

I encourage you to look up some other videos on how other photographers edit, and hopefully, that will get you to where you want to be editing faster!

I do plan on releasing a video of how I edit soon, so make sure you're following along and subscribing to my blog or YouTube channel!

 

That's it for today! I hope that this helps you in your journey and gives you insight to how I got started. Remember that everyone has their own path, and there isn't 1 specific correct way to get to being full-time.

 

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