Recently I get quite some emails asking how I became a photographer. If I studied it and how I started my own business and if I could give some tips to photographers just starting out.
So here is my little story about how it all began.
When I was 15 I started using the camera of my father with a ilford black and white film and photographed my friends. A year later I was sure – I was going to become a photographer as I couldn’t think of doing something else. So I went to the bank and took all the saved money on my bank account and bought a dark room to be able to develop my own images. I darkened the windows in the basement of my father’s house or I was locked into the bathroom of my mother for sometimes a whole day just developing my own images. Learning by doing how I had to use all the equipment. I think the digital revolution was the best that could happen in the eyes of my parents as my mum got her bathroom back and free of all the chemicals and my father could lighten up the basement and we didn’t need the black blinds in front of the windows any more. After I finished school I decided not to study photography as the markt was completely overflood with photographers and I knew the chance of becoming one of the few photographers who could make a living with their art was very small. So I took the chance of my second passion – languages and studied International Business. Through all the years I never stopped photography and when I moved abroad to Paris I bought my very first digital DSLR a Canon 350D. I still have that camera as it travelled with me to so many countries and it was the base of my business. It reminds me of the times when photography was still a hobby and when I made the first money from taking pictures. It must have been before this time that I photographed my first wedding as I remember shooting it on film.
I started working in a corporate environment and in the beginning everything was fine. I was working in the international marketing for a company selling beamers and projectors and photography magazines where one of our main sources for advertising. So I got all the beautiful magazines and it was my job to read them and be up to date with all the new developments. During that time siblings of friends were asking me to photograph their wedding.They referred me to their friends and I got my first clients. We were forced to find new jobs during the crisis in 2008 and I took the chance of taking on a 4 day job – having one day to start my business next to a day job.
In 2009 I started my company as the summer already filled up with weddings to photograph and I first thought about doing only photography as I really loved it. All the money I earned went directly into new gear, like a better camera, better lenses and a website. Through my referrals and my knowledge of online marketing from my day job I was able to get already clients for 2010 and my dream seemed to come closer. That also meant working during the day 100% at my day job and working in the evening and the weekend 100% on my own business. It was an exciting time and I wouldn’t want to miss a minute of it but my spare time to spend with family and friends was almost inexistent. But was I making enough money to quit my well paid day job ? Was I sure the next years would be even well booked ? A lot of questions and sorrows that kept me busy during the night and that made this dream seem childish and stupid.
In 2010 I finally took the step, when my season 2011 was well booked, and I quit my day job to become a full time photographer. So this is my little story about self learning, passion, working really hard to make a dream come true and having sleepless nights again and again if next month will be good enough to survive.
When I sit next to Conrad and are faced with new challenges and sometimes I miss the courage and power to see a light at the end of the tunnel I look back at those exciting years – where I worked full time and started a business not hesitating one moment if I am going to make it or not.
[quote]I am not telling you it is goint to be easy – I am telling you it is going to be worth it – Art Williams[/quote]
I hope this answers some of your questions.