How I took the leap into starting my own business as a photographer...
I get asked a lot how I started my photography business. It doesn’t seem that long ago that it all began but it was back in 2017 when I started to get serious about what I loved.
When Ben and I got married I knew it meant moving away from family, friends and a job I had enjoyed for a couple of years. Although I enjoyed it, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to make a career out of and I didn’t like the thought of having to change jobs often with having to move around (my husbands in the military). After our wedding I reached out to our wedding photographer Sarah. I thought I bet she gets these emails all the time and I’d be lucky if she let me into her world. I explained I’d always loved photography and that I’m 100% serious about giving it ago but didn’t know how so asked how she got started. I asked about equipment she used/recommended and sent the email with my fingers crossed she’d reply (she’s super busy and I knew I wouldn’t be priority over couples). Not long after I saw an email pop up from Sarah and wow, she flooded me with information and mentoring info. I was so happy. She was so positive. That was it I was determined. I upgraded my camera that week (I’d been thinking of it a while - it wasn’t an out of the blue move). I got practicing, bought books recommended and spent months researching everything photography. Not only that but marketing, how to run a business, editing and all the parts that people don’t really know about. I’m the first to hold my hand up and say there’s a lot I’ve learnt that goes into a photography business that I didn’t know much about. A SEO? search engine optimization, right? Definitely new to me! I had never told friends about my love for taking photos but my family always knew from an early age. My parents met at a photography club back in the 80's and I think that’s why it’s always been something I’m interested in. To build a portfolio was important. You wouldn’t hire someone if you couldn’t view their work before right? I asked friends and family if they would let me bring my camera to events like birthdays, if they would like a family photos. I had so many offers. I started with family photography as it didn’t feel so daunting. Then I got a request from a friend to shoot her mums wedding. YES I thought, I was happy to do it for free as I just wanted the experience and knew no one would pay a bright eyed, eager beginner with no experience to capture their day. The bride knew it was my first wedding so although there was pressure there wasn’t the added pressure of payment. I LOVED it. I was hooked. Not only on photography - that happened long before - but for weddings. Watching two people surrounded by loved ones tie the knot was so magical. I knew I had a lot to learn. I spent more hours in front of the laptop watching videos, researching EVERYTHING, from how to pose couples naturally, photography styles, how to build a website, the list is endless. Not only did I spend time behind the laptop, but countless hours with my camera. You have to get out there and learn. I wondered what style I should go for but I didn’t want to force it, so I let it happen naturally and over time I knew it was a very natural documentary style. I taught myself how to edit (with the guidance from Sarah over email of what software there is out there). Once I sent the photos to the lovely couple that trusted me to capture their day my heart was going so fast, until I received the message they had their pictures. They loved them. I was so thrilled (and relieved). I spent weeks editing them. I was asked if I had a Facebook page so they could leave a review. A Facebook page? That seemed so serious and a big step. With the boost from my lovely bride and Sarah, I did it. I made the page. I worried what friends would think. But turns out I didn’t have to worry. They were (and still are) SO supportive. I’d never shown them photos before. They were pleasantly surprised! My wonderful bride wrote:
“Sophie has such an amazing talent for capturing "moments", emotions, laughter and love all perfectly. Her energy and passion show through the beautiful pictures she has taken. I can honestly say she has a pure heart and made me feel so comfortable on my special day my memories are just perfect in every shot she took. Thank-you so very much."
WOW. I then received a lovely message from my friend saying how much she loved the photos and how grateful they were that I was there to help capture the day.
“A picture is worth a thousand words "Sophie has so much talent, professionalism and character in her role as a photographer, that her stunning photos enable you to relive the moment over and over again. It is impossible not to feel comfortable in her presence, and it is clear for all to see how much passion she has in not only taking but presenting to you the perfect pictures”.
Receiving these messages only fuelled my desire to create more beautiful pictures for people. I added to the Facebook page and invited friends to like it (sorry friends!). My little page was getting likes! Then I noticed people I didn’t know liking the page. I popped out model calls for family and couples to practice. I still continued to take my camera to different occasions. I never stopped or will stop learning. I showed the pictures from the wedding to Sarah, who is THE best mentor anyone could wish for, and she gave me feed back. None of it negative. She’s so positive and encouraging. I thought people would think I was an imposter, doing something I shouldn't. Far from it. I was serious about this. Over time after a lot of hard work and mentoring sessions , I was given the opportunity to shoot along side Sarah. WHAT?! I couldn’t have grabbed that opportunity quick enough with both hands - sorry Sarah. I’m eager to learn and who better than the woman I have looked up to and admired since before our wedding. I was able to build up a portfolio from family photography myself and have been so lucky to build my wedding portfolio due to the kindest and support from Sarah and her couples. 2018 was when I first started taking wedding bookings of my own. I won’t lie, I was so nervous. Couples viewed my work, couples I knew and couples I didn’t. It’s not been easy and of course there are times where you look at where you are and where you want to be, it looks so far away. The last - nearly - two years have flown by. I work hard to continue to learn, I don’t think you ever stop learning. My love and passion is and always will be in photography. I love every second. I walk away after a session with the biggest buzz. I can’t wait to edit. I can’t wait to send over a gallery and although nerve racking (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for people to see their galleries) it’s worth every moment. Although I’m still learning to walk in this huge, wonderful, magical world of photography I’m so excited for what the future will bring. I’m even more excited for the 2019 and 2020 weddings I have booked and the wonderful couples I get to meet. If you are looking for a mentor no matter whether you are just starting out or need help in a certain area, I highly recommend Sarah Horton.
She is based in Cheshire and provides fab mentoring sessions in person and via Skype calls. Nope this isn’t a paid advertisement for Sarah and she hasn’t bribed me. I just believe that if you enjoy something and get something from what you do, why not share the experience with someone else who may need it? Although I’d love to keep Sarah to myself I feel her talents should be shared. Sarah, thank you. x