Hey everyone!! Bear with me, this is my first blog post so I am super new at this. Hopefully you are all staying healthy amid the craziness of the coronavirus outbreak…since we are all “social distancing” ourselves I figured it would be a good time to start my photography blog and socialize in a virtual way.
As some of you know, I have really been ramping up my photography business and moving towards specializing in wedding photography. How did I get here? How did I go from knowing nothing about photography, to a photo hobbyist, to a full blown professional wedding photographer with real clients?
Well, it all started when I bought my first camera in 2016, a Canon Rebel T6. It was very much an impulse “happy birthday to myself” gift. At the time, I had zero knowledge on how to use a DSLR, how to compose compelling images, or really anything about photography other than the fact that I loved taking photos. I mean, what the heck is ISO? What does aperture mean? How does shutter speed affect my exposure? Wait a second, what does exposure mean? I’m not kidding you when I say that I knew NOTHING about any of this. I thought all you had to do was point, press a button, and voila perfect picture! Boy was I wrong….after hours of browsing Pinterest articles on how to use a DSLR, I was finally learning the capabilities of what a real camera could do and how to start taking great photos.
Over the next couple of years, photography was just a fun hobby for me in my free time. I was finishing graduate school working full time as an Athletic Trainer at a Division III college before moving on to working in an orthopedic clinic. Photography was a side hobby, and I would find as much time as I could to get out and have some fun with my camera. I was all about landscapes, landscapes, landscapes. Living in my home state of Maine at the time, there was so much to get out and explore. Beaches, mountains, lighthouses, rugged coastlines, you name it. I upgraded lenses, went through some cheap tripods before finally realizing I needed to invest in something I could depend on (thank you Manfrotto), and worked on fine-tuning my post-processing techniques.
I started producing some pretty cool stuff. After hearing friends and family start asking me “Do you sell your photos?” I started doing just that. Portland Maine has this pretty cool thing called “First Friday Art Walk”. Basically, every first Friday of the month, artist could set up free stands along one of the main streets downtown to display and sell their artwork. So every first Friday, I would head down after work with my table, chair, and a handful of 8x10 prints and a couple 11x14 framed prints to see if people would be interested. I would get a few sales here and there, which turned into some nice extra beer money and what not. It was awesome to see that people really enjoyed my work, and some enough to purchase it to hang it in their homes.
But wait, what about weddings?? Glad you asked!! I shot my first wedding in June of 2018, a coworker of mine at the time was getting married and I asked if I could help out with their photography as I was becoming more interested in getting into the wedding side of things. I was the second shooter, did it for free, and had NO IDEA what I was doing. Thankfully, the photographer they hired was super helpful in teaching me what to look for, must-have shots, and other wedding photography basics. It was such a great learning experience for me, and I came out of it with a couple great shots!
Shortly thereafter, I made the biggest life decision of my life and moved cross country from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon. WOAH. Yeah, it was crazy. While it was super hard to leave my family and friends behind, I was ready to experience a new adventure and check out a different part of the country. A year and a half later, I could not be happier with my decision. I absolutely LOVE it out here, and got to take the trip of a lifetime: a three week long cross country road trip that included stops in 5 national parks and 4 major cities (future blog post?? Stay tuned).
Okay so after establishing myself in Oregon, starting a new job, and continuing my landscape photography hobby, I began to start looking into weddings again. But where to start? How do I get clients? Where do I find clients? Why would anybody even want me to shoot their special day? These were all questions I was asking myself.
First, I realized I needed to start building a portfolio. After all, nobody is going to book you to do their wedding if you don’t have any photos to show them! Luckily, some close friends of mine got engaged within a few months of each other. Perfect timing!! We all met down at the coast in Florence, Oregon and over a weekend of fun I was able to photograph their engagement photos. It was a great first step towards getting some material to start building a couples portfolio. I then started reaching out to coworkers and friends to do as many shoots as I could, and was able to get even more material for my portfolio.
The next step was building a website. This is a CRUCIAL step, and was really when my business was born. Without a website, there is no way for clients to find you, contact you, and ultimately book you. I spent many late nights after work building and designing a website to showcase my portfolio, introduce my business, and provide a way for clients to contact and book me. But still, no weddings. So again, how am I supposed to get a couple to book me for their wedding if I don’t have any WEDDING photos to show them??
Luckily, another perfect opportunity presented itself to me. One of my coworkers was getting married! And another one of my coworkers was her official wedding planner who works part time at the venue they chose! However, they had already booked a photographer. Even though I could not be the primary shooter, I was able to work side by side with a wedding photographer who has been doing it for years. She was super helpful and acceptive to me tagging along to get some material for my portfolio and learn as much as I could.
I was able to get some really great stuff to add to my website and boost my portfolio. I have continued to work with the wedding planner from that wedding and she has sent two more clients my way and I have them booked for this upcoming summer/fall! Developing a good relationship with event planners and venue coordinators is huge on a referral basis for booking new clients.
I have since, and am continuing, to work on the packages and products I want to offer my current couples as well as my future clients. I am aiming to set myself apart from other Oregon wedding photographers by offering a high-end, full service photography experience with top of the line products for my clients.
So that’s my story. This is how I have gone from a photo hobbyist to an Oregon wedding photographer with 3 booked clients (so far) for the upcoming 2020 wedding season! From here the next step is GROWTH GROWTH GROWTH and the goal for 2021 is to shoot 20-30 weddings!
Thanks for reading and follow along for more photography (and life) related content. Cheers, stay healthy, and happy shooting!!