Taking the Plunging Starting your Photography Business + Where to Invest

We recently had a client contact us in regards to starting her own photography business, we love when this happens. Lighting the spark of someone’s creativity brings us great joy.  Her email read:

“Hi Michelle,
I personally am interested in getting involved in photography. I don’t have a lot of experience, but am asking to shadow local photographers in St. Louis to gain a better understanding. Potentially, if I decide to go this route, I’ll take classes and learn more about the art of photography. 
Do you have any recommendations or advice for me about getting started? I think you and Brandon have done such a great job with your business and the quality of your work. Ideally, I’d be able to build something so Tim and I could do it together.
Thanks for all your help!” 

 

Starting your own business can be, well…Terrifying. Trying to figure out how to start is a bit overwhelming, we totally get it.  We can really only speak from our own experience when it comes to starting off and investing in your business. Everyone will do it a bit differently but this is what worked for us.

Brandon and I both starting off with Cannon Rebels shooting for fun. We were engaged at the time and we simply loved capturing moments of joy, happiness and love. Honestly, we were not seeking to start our own business, but rather seeking to better love those around us by sharing our love for photography. It was not until 2008 when we realized that several of our friends and family were continually contacting us to shoot their weddings, engagements, senior shoots, family portraits and newborns.  We finally stopped for a moment and said “could we do this as a career, could we really do this?”. At the time my heart was longing to work from home; longing to get out of the corporate world. I was ready for a change and Brandon was there to support me. So we took the plunge.

Horn Photography & Design Our Vow Renew-0026

So lets look at the plunge:

In August of 2009 we got married and decided to officially start our business. We currently had a good number of weddings, engagements, and portraits under our belt to use as our portfolio (and yes… it was all shot with cannon rebels for free). The first steps we took to get serious were:

Naming our business
Getting our business license
Designing our business logo
Starting our business blog
Creating a business fan page
Getting our business insurance

Aside from getting our business license ($45) and our business insurance ($350) all the above was free and done by me.  After all this was together we began to upgrade our equipment. We were so fortunate to have a lot of family support; for Christmas our families went in together and gave us cash so we could buy our first professional cameras (2 Cannon 40D’s), lenses (2 Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 and 1 Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6), 2 Flashes, 2 cheep camera bags + 8 CF cards. We then shot our first wedding for our business in January 2010.

One thing I should mention is that I  decided to work 2 full time jobs. Full time Graphic Designer for an international marketing company by day and Professional Photographer by night. This was the routine for about 13 months. (For us, taking out a $20,000 small business loan was not an option – I grew up being taught “if you don’t have the money then make due with what you do have”.) All of this was being done after a full day of work – everyday and on the weekends.

From January 2010 – September 2010 we booked 5 weddings all by word of mouth and our FB fan page.  In September 2010 we decide the business was growing quickly and I need more time to work on it. I became a part time Graphic Designer and full time Professional Photographer.

The profit from each wedding went right back into our business:
September 2010 – we launched our website
September 2010 – we upgraded our computer to a 21.5″ iMac Desktop Computer, 2 external 1 terabyte hard drives and a new USB card reader.
November 2010 – we upgraded our lenses – 2 Canon 24-70mm, 2.8,  Canon 70-200mm, 2.8 IS, Canon 100mm Macro – 2.8 IS, 4 Canon 580EXII.
January 2011 – we upgraded our cameras – 2 Cannon 7D’s along with 1 Promaster Professional tripod, 2 light stand, 2 Photoflex Small LiteDome soft box  and 2 – 2 Piece Pocket Wizards.

From September 2010 -December 2010 we shot 3 more weddings giving us a totally of 7 for the year. We also booked 7 additional weddings for 2011 and booked our first bridal show.  As our business grew I constantly updated our FB page, blog and website to reflect our growth both professionally and creatively. And for us we have always keep the reason we started our business in the forefront – to better love others around us by sharing our love for photography + capturing moments of joy, happiness and love. This turned into our tag line summed up to say “Capturing Moments of God’s Glory”.

I think what I am getting at is, starting your own business takes time, patience, dedication, hard work, support and perserverence. Its not an over night success. It’s ok to start with beginner’s gear that’s why it’s out there. Obviously you need to charge accordingly, but I will touch on that in another post. You don’t need to go into debt with all the best gear, website and blog to make it work, let your business grow and become stronger. Work up to the best gear, website and blog. And keep in mind – if you depend on a loan to get your business going, if for some reason it does not work you will be left with a loan debt.

Have faith in yourself and go for your dreams.

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