JSBBlog#1Aug 20150

My motivation and my business

In September 2014 my world changed, myself and my wife had our first child. An amazing and beautiful little girl for whom we are now responsible! However throughout the pregnancy I started to formulate all these big plans in my head as to how I would document her life, and I had one thing missing... A 'professional' camera.

Back in 2007 I made the step up to a professional grade camera after a lifelong love for photography and digital editing, and before long I was starting to get paid for my time and my art. I officially started my business in 2008 and I honestly would accept any type of commission that I would get asked to do, and I'd do it for next to nothing. After all photography was my passion and I was happy enough to have a subject to photograph and that was reward enough. But without going down this road to far and hijacking my own blog post, I didn't really have any kind of vision or strategy. I bought lots of gear to do lots of different things and usually I bought it cheaply. I had a great time for the next 3 years learning about my craft and developing my own skills, I did studio works, weddings, portfolios, pets, products, parties... Anything really... It was all learning and all good fun. However to cut a long story short I got a new job and I fell out of love with photography. I think my lack of direction played a big part and the fact that my skills started to outweigh my cheap equipment. I closed the business and sold everything I owned including my camera, all my accessories and my studio gear... Everything. I bought myself a little Premium Compact (Olympus XZ-1) to fill the hole.

Even though in the next 3 years I did miss photography I never thought I would go back to it so soon. After we found out we were expecting a child all the images that I ever created for other people of babies, bumps and toddlers came rushing back to me. The thought of creating those images for my daughter was too much to resist, and on top of that I had a myriad of other ideas to document her childhood. So I decided to start looking for a camera capable of doing just that.

The only issue at that stage was that 'professional' cameras are expensive, and I needed to find a way to fund it. After weeks and weeks of consideration on the subject I finally came to the conclusion that the only way forward was to start taking on jobs again, but this time I had a plan. A goal. Before long I also had a strategy (with help from my wife and our good friends). They were as follows;

  • Have a robust enough camera and a bag of tricks to document my daughter's life.
  • Concentrate on 1 genre of photography at a time.
  • Within 5 years be recognised as one of the top 5 photographers locally in my chosen field.

So before my daughter's birth I was tooled up with just enough used and aged gear to record my wife in her late stages and document the birth of our daughter. I settled on a Nikon D300S and a Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, as well as a few speedlites and some modifiers. I wrote a new website, setup a new facebook page and sorted all the things necessary to restart my business...

My daughter, Aria

Ten and a half months on my daughter has almost grown into a toddler, and I've got a hell of a lot of images recording the journey from bump to baby!

We're only a few weeks away from completing her first year. We've taken at least 1 'proper' picture a week since the start and we've also written down our favourite memory from each week. Soon I'll be able to compile them into a slideshow to share with the family & friends and eventually Aria herself.

My business

Almost a year on and I've learned a great deal about my skills and the art of making a great image, even more so than all of my past years of photography combined. And although this originally started out as a means to an end, I'm absolutely loving where I've got to at this moment in time. I'm attacking this with more wisdom and maturity, and I've got back the passion that I lost.

I've stuck to my philosophy of concentrating on 1 genre at a time. In the first few months I used studio work to fund my growing kit bag and I put around 20% back into advertising. Then when I felt settled I started to take on events and now I've finally branched out into weddings. Which is the genre that I now wish to pursue. Going forward I'll still take on other work to fund anything that I need gear wise and to pay for some advertising, my main focus will be wedding photography.

I've gone from one camera and one lens, to multiple D700's and some truly amazing world class glass (lenses). A ton of speedlites and modifiers enough to set a studio up anywhere and I'll not really need another bit of gear to produce some stunning images. I've still got a hell of a lot of learning to do to achieve my goals, but I'm looking forward to the journey.

What I also would like to do is regularly write some blogs to impart the knowledge I have in hopes that it might inspire other photographers and also shed some light on why great photography is sometimes viewed as expensive. So the next few blogs I'm planning are around image editing/post production and retouching, and what's in my kit bag and I'll try to post up some photography guides to help those amongst you that want to learn more.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you like it don't hesitate to leave me a comment below, or like my Facebook page.

John.

About the author

J S Beasley, wedding and portrait photographer.

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