The scene – 6 months out of school, working for “The Weather Channel,” selling advertising for a new but failing venture of something I could care less about. (getting TWC stuff was the only highlight 🙂
I had been doing photography for a few years. Granted, looking back, the things I learned I had been doing wrong, OMG! Seriously, for a while I thought my pics were grainy because I had dropped my D70s… No, it was set to ISO 1600. I knew my time with TWC was limited, and afterall, I only took that job because I had to get away from a toxic healthcare company where I was always worried for my patients and ethical issues.
While my time with TWC dwindled down, I started to invest in computers and software and camera equipment. I started to scour the internet learning techniques and lived with a camera in my hand. I researched my local market and was doing more than “journalism.” I started to work for an architect taking images of their designs. I worked for a university doing head shots and event photography. Then, I took on my first wedding, and it was about 1 week after leaving TWC. I kept running. Grabbing last min. weddings while marketing for my future. I came out swinging and offering a product I was proud of and knew could rival others in the area. My first wedding was $500. 2nd was $1100. 3rd was $1500 and up. Nothing against them, but I didn’t want to be known as a CL photographer. There were like 30 of them and no offense, some are still there and still charging $500… years later.
My first full year of business my “profit” (gross minus expenses, etc) before taxes was the same I was making at TWC.
For me, I spent my senior year of college as president of our Students in Free Enterprise team. we initiated a project with our towns Mayor to build small business in our community and that was my life. I figured, why not do it for myself.
When I decided to go into business, I had a product I knew myself and others could trust and believe in. I KNEW how to take a picture. It sounds stupid, but most (not all) CL photogs are still learning technical aspects. While I’ve improved (and must at all times while in business) I’m still proud to show images from 3 years ago. So, I took my product and came out swinging! I spent all night working on building a website, all day at work day dreaming of freedom and brides, and the evening on google, flickr, and anything else I could get my hands on. It wasn’t “easy.” still isn’t, but it’s so much better!
I truly think a big part is believing in yourself and being a smart business person. Position yourself well and you’ll get the business. I’m not sure WHY ON EARTH people seem to think CL is the only way to start a business. Seriously, CL is great for a lot of things. Building a business is NOT one of them. I’m all for using it for getting experience… but as a foundation on which to build your business, No. Be smart, work / market hard, fight for it.
About a year before I had dreams of wedding photography, I stumbled on a local wedding photographers site. I was blown away. I saw something on his blog that showed the “straight out of camera” image next to the “edited” image. I realized the only thing holding me back was my lack of post processing knowledge. Here he was, making $5000+ a wedding! So I solved that and entered the market. He came to my first bridal show, my booth was PACKED, and I heard him in the background oohing and ahing and going “woah, where did she come from?”
That’s what I wanted. I wanted people to think I had always been, that I just moved into town, that I was some hot shot not a newbie…
And that’s how I started on 1 CL wedding. 🙂