Welcome to the next installment in our blog series, spotlighting local wedding companies that have been in business for 10 or more years! Today we feature photographer Christy Whitehead, of Christy Whitehead Photography. What year did you start your business?
What was your motivation?
I've always been a creative person. I LOVE doing crafts. I was working as a journalist and an editor told me to take some photography classes. I LOVED the dark room and the creative aspects of photography. People started asking me to do photography for their families and weddings and now I don't do much of any news work.
How has your business changed over the years?
Everything is constantly changing. I'm always trying to learn and better my technique and learn new things. Equipment is always changing from film to digital, etc. I've learned how to be a better business person and am always trying to keep on top of everything. Right now, I'm moving my studio from a 750 SF building to 2400 SF with a huge shooting space, conference room, sales room and tons of kid friendly areas.
Looking back, what do you wish you had done differently?
Probably gotten more training sooner. Overall, I try not to dwell on the past and just try to look forward and set goals for myself.
What are you most proud of?
Most of my business comes from word of mouth, so that means a lot. I get a lot of people who email me wanting photography advice and such or send nice comments and that is very flattering.
Why do you think your business has made it while so many other small businesses fail in the first five years?
Being a business owner is hard. I'm married and have a child. I don't know that I could do this without my husband working also. But that being said, I've also asked for help when I can't do it all. I'm not playing mommy 24/7 and answering calls, I have people who help me with child care or running errands when I need it so I can focus on my business. But being a photographer, I also work a lot of weekends, so I do take off during the week to spend with my daughter. I love the flexibility. But I've set standards and expectations, because my business is important to me.
What advice do you have for a business just starting out in your industry?
In this industry, there is a lot of negative talk about "momtographers" the moms who pick up the camera and start selling their service and they don't know how to shoot manually. I was at a Professional Photographer Association get together and someone said that what separates a momtographer are the people who WANT to learn. If you want to be taken seriously, LEARN your craft. Ask for help. Pay for classes, pick up a book. I'd say, also, to value yourself. I had a photographer ask me to lunch the other day and she said they were working all the time and didn't have time for their 3 kids. I told her to double her prices. She might lose half her clients, but she'd still bring in the same income. Two months later she told me that was the best advice she had ever gotten and they were now getting clients who actually valued their work and were still booking like crazy.
Do you have a most memorable wedding or funny story you'd like to share?
Not that I can think of off hand. I haven't had any bridezillas, thankfully! I do a lot of ring photos on props and we once tried to photograph the rings on a chocolate mustache. It was the middle of the summer and the ring was melting into the chocolate, it was one huge mess, lol.