In early January I published a post called "Why I Love This Blog". That post started an idea for a new weekly feature called "How I Got Started." I'm just going to keep sharing them until I run out, but here's what I'm looking for:
Stories about how you got started. Who's been your inspiration? What made you fall in love with photography? This is real simple and meant to be fun, not feel like a homework assignment from when you were a kid. It's 200-400 words, (I'm happy to edit it for you) a head shot of you, a link to your website and 1-2 images you're most proud of. Images only need to be 5x7 equivalent at 72 dpi...and obviously YOURS! Send it all to my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to thank Pete Wilson for today's post. He's a UK photographer, but there's a special twist on his story. Nikkie Tatton, his fiancé, sent in the first "how I got started" story. They're in business together and about to be lifetime partners, not just business associates. Pete and Nikkie are First Light Photography if you'd like to find out more about them and their business.
I'm not sure if it's the stories I like the most or the fact that it's going to be fun following Pete and Nikkie's careers as wedding photographers.
Okay, so who's next to share how they got started.
My name is Pete Wilson. At 18 I started working in Jessops in Plymouth as a Saturday job. I had no idea about photography, but they took me on as I was studying computers so they thought I was technically minded.
It didn’t take long to start learning the differences between the SLR cameras we sold, what aperture, shutter-speed and ISO were and how they affected the photo. After about 6 months I bought my first camera; an Olympus OM1 with 50mm f1.8 lens. Using black and white films I started to experiment. I was lucky if I got one decent shot out a role of film, but was also lucky I had plenty of people around me for advice.
After a couple of years I was asked by my girlfriends' dad, Mike, if I’d like to second-shoot for his weddings. (He’d been a school photographer for a few years and was starting do a lot of weddings). Although nervous at the time, I saw it as a really good opportunity to have a go at what I considered to be the most difficult area of photography, as well as using my new Canon 10D. I was able to hide in the background and snipe the more natural/unexpected type of shots I had seen in magazines and loved, whilst Mike shot the formalities.
I did around 20 weddings with Mike and learnt a lot, but after a split with my girlfriend I did not continue to shoot for him.
Knowing that I’d done weddings and was a keen amateur photographer, I had close family members ask if I would photograph their weddings and christenings. As they were not paying, they didn’t expect ‘professional’ results and would be happy with whatever they got. This took the stress away and allowed me to further my experience without risk.
When I met my now fiancé Nikkie, whilst she had no prior photography experience, I knew she had a very keen eye for a good photograph and was also technically minded. We borrowed my sister's Canon 450D and she came with me for a wedding. We got paid £100 between us. She was actually really good. We ended up with double the amount of photos to give the couple and they were pleased.
We did a few more small gatherings and practiced a lot as a couple with her kids, the dog, family…etc…until she was more confident using the camera, knew what most of the features did and how they affected the photo.
We had a web design business and decided to build a website, price ourselves at the low end of the market and see what work (if any) we could get using Google Adwords. Suprisingly to us both, we started getting enquiries straight away. We met with the couples and quickly learnt that it was our positive attitude (and cheap prices) that our clients liked and in our first year did 33 weddings and are now planning to discontinue the website business in favor of going full-time with weddings.
We have learnt a MASSIVE amount in our first year about how to run a business, how to further our photography skills and also how to sell ourselves as professional, reliable and technically able photographers. We have had amazing reviews from all of our clients. We are very proud of not just our portfolio, but also what we have achieved as business people. We are getting married ourselves this June and are both very excited about our future careers together as full-time husband and wife wedding photographers.