Schuh Photo – http://SchuhPhoto.com
What motivated you to start your own photography business? After graduating from Northern Arizona University with a degree in photography, I moved to Washington, DC to start a new life. I loved it as soon as I arrived, and I am happy to say that I love it still! I job hunted for a few months and eventually found a full time job…in a position that I truly disliked. Data entry in a stressful environment with a tyrannical manager is not my idea of a fulfilling career.
I started pondering what I could do to keep myself sane. Photography had always been a passion. I was good at it. It relaxed me. It got me recognition and praise and it also made others happy. I started searching for photography positions, but economic factors and my lack of networking were stacked against me and anyone else trying to enter the field. So, for a time I gave up. I took pictures of my family. I photographed my weekend adventures. I photographed my boyfriend. I enjoyed the response I got from my Facebook friends when I posted photographs of DC from MY perspective. Then I started posting the wedding images I had taken a few years ago for college friends. Amazingly enough, I got a great response to those as well. Wedding photography had never entered my mind as a future career. I wanted to work with a studio with other professionals in an esteemed environment. I realized quickly that if I wanted to photograph for a living, that I could not sit and wait for the cushy studio position to come to me. I needed to make my own path.
My options really became apparent in May of 2009. A friend of a friend e-mailed me and stated how much she loved my photographs. She then told me that she had been praying for help. She was planning on being married in just a few weeks, but money was tight. She desperately wanted photographs, but knew that she could not afford anyone. She asked, “Would you be willing to help me?” From that day I was truly motivated! I did photograph her wedding…and I loved it. I then bought a website design and started displaying my photographs and came up with some basic wedding packages. I entered my web address anywhere that would take it to increase my SEO. I advertised with Yellowpages.com and I begged, begged and begged for more referrals. Today, my little studio is a bit bigger…but I am growing every day. And I must say I am loving photographing every day!
When did you first start taking photos? 2006. My sophomore year of high school…because I had a crush on a boy in the class (don’t judge me, I was 15!)
Do you take photos full-time or part-time? I photograph only part time in this stage of my business. I would love to transfer into the fully professional field of photography, but I am being patient, growing my business, raising resources and dreaming!
What lessons have you learned along the way? I have learned that the only way to get the things you want to is to go after them. Clients won’t just fall into your lap. You need to advertise, talk about your ‘hobby’, ‘passion’, ‘profession’, whatever it is you do and then things will start to happen.
How do you market your photography business? Currently I am listed on every wedding planning website I can find. Many have free listings. Most brides probably don’t see the listings, but every place your website can be found increases that chance that you will be on the first page of a Google/Bing/Yahoo search. I also use Yellowpages.com that gives me a banner, link to my website and info about my studio. Networking with make-up artists and wedding planners has also helped my business.
Any special offers to share with our readers? The first week of December I will be featured on http://www.buywithme.com/dc . My normally $100 portrait package will be sold for only $40. I would take advantage of that amazing discount and book a family portrait session!
Can we come back and interview you again to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures? Of course!