Larissa and I photographed our first wedding in 2008 but it wasn’t always either of our intentions to make photography our career. Larissa’s college major was called “Imaging Media”. It did actually include a photography component, but it was everything else about the degree that had drawn her to it. She has been doing web design since she was in elementary school and that was what she thought she’d continue doing. My college major was Soil and Crop Science so obviously, photography wasn’t anywhere in my mind. I just happened to be dating Larissa when she was approached by friends to shoot their engagement photos. That led to her photographing their wedding and me being drug along for the ride. After almost 11 years and over 200 weddings, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoyed it. For the first six years, we still didn’t believe that it would be our primary occupation however. We didn’t actively seek out clients so every wedding we took on was via referrals. Larissa didn’t even make a Facebook page for the business until 2012. After that point, we started to get clients who stumbled onto us via Facebook as well as referrals and our yearly wedding totals started climbing into the teens.
After a couple years of shooting 15ish weddings while working full time jobs, Larissa slowly came around to the idea that maybe this could be more than just a side business. There was demand for our services and to be honest… 15 weddings along with working full time jobs was exhausting. Basically, for 2/3’s of the year we were working the equivalent of two full time jobs. In the Fall of 2014 we stumbled upon the space that would become our studio. The location and size were absolutely perfect but everything else was sooooo bad. It was too good of a deal to pass up however. We signed the lease and got to work on renovations. Walls came down and new walls got put up, new electrical was run, new floors were put in, and the paint…so much paint. This was the spring board for her transitioning from employed to business owner. Her last day working for the man was in August of 2015. At that point she started focusing all of her time and energy on building the business. We had hoped that I would be able to join her at some point but assumed that it would take at least a couple years to build everything up. Things moved so quickly in that first year though. By February of 2016, we had 30+ weddings booked for the year and were starting to book for 2017. It became obvious that I would either be joining her full time in the business or we would be hiring somebody else to help her. Since I worked in agriculture, I informed my employer that I would stay on through the spring so as not to leave them in a bad place. June 1st of 2016 was my last day being yelled at by anyone but my wife.
We had both worked in the industry that coincided with our college degrees long enough to pay off our student loans and are thankful for everything that we learned in that time. This is somehow the start of the 4th wedding season that we have been working as full time Photographers. I’m not sure where the time has gone but we have enjoyed every couple and every wedding day that we’ve been a part of. There are different challenges to running a business. Most of them are related to money. Cash flow is inconsistent, taxes is a dirty word, and the instability of the current health care system is always in the back of our minds. Luckily, both of our former employers thought that business management training was important over the course of our careers so we had a base to work off of. We are also both relatively relaxed people who don’t get too high or too low. This makes a big difference when it comes to working and living together. Overall, I feel like our business is a success. There are moments here and there where we find ourselves questioning what we’re doing but I think that just goes with the territory. I don’t think either of us could put a number on what it would take to get us to go back to our past lives. It’s been a hell of a ride.