| p.1 #3 · Getting started in the business |
My personal experience as a wedding photographer may be similar to some other people out there. I had never really taken any courses for photography or been an art person. I'm a tech and business guy. I went to business school and found myself opening my first company right out of high school. College courses for me were all about business and running financials. That area of study never became a business for me. I ran my IT company for a good number of years until I finally said enough.
My wife was an art person and was trained in art so she was the first photographer. I had always taken snapshots using a Sony P&S and I still do.... even at weddings. It's a little more inconspicuous and I always end up getting great results since I'm more of a technical shooter. Same thing goes with my first 1.6x crop body which is still the Canon 550D and then my FF body which is a Canon 5D Mk III. While my wife shoots for art, I shoot everything for numbers. I can actively crunch F stop numbers to calculate how much light I need and at what focal length I should be taking photos. I learned all of the technical details about camera equipment by reading this forum, reading engineer reports, reading lens reviews, and experiencing all of it live with the cameras for test shots so I could hone manual shooting because I want that much more control. For me, the toughest thing is to trust the camera's advanced features to do what it needs to do. As with any photographer, I have constant issues with AF, Auto WB, and any automatic setting on DSLRs. Sony cameras are much more advanced in terms of automatic processing which is why their P&S systems are excellent and offer just enough manual control to shoot well. Learning photography actually isn't the hard part. I can now shoot full manual on the 5D Mk III and 550D as well as do video with a proper rig. The hardest part of wedding photography right now IMO is marketing.
Being a business first before being an artist is what I bring to the business of photography. This is quite hard due to all of the bad debt that racked up over the years in the IT business and my unwillingness to go get money from clients. I learned a hard lesson that being in touch and asking for what's owed to me is important in business. I started the business with my wife about a month ago, got everything registered, crunched my 5 year numbers, crunched my 5 and 10 years business plans, built an HTML5 website, and financed all the equipment as well as educated myself for about a total of 3 months. Those things are easy. The toughest part of this business IMO is marketing. Getting the company name out there and getting hits on the website as well as social marketing, referrals, and creating a reputation is tough. I'm still trying to network with other wedding photographers and getting to know people since I was isolated from society for a while. I'm constantly stepping outside my own boundaries to connect with others and market to people in my area. Nothing really prepares you for marketing and this time around, I'm making every effort to service customers as well as make our business work well. It's important to connect people with quality photography but it's also equally important to get paid and have the business function well. My inspirations are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, John D Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, Li Ka-Shing, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford. At one time each one of these guys failed and they all were able to work past the failures and generate business. The one phrase that has helped me is "Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." Failure is just Success rounded down.