I had the pleasure of meeting Casey Hendrickson in November when she took maternity photos of me and Sweets. With an eye for the camera and a passion in her heart, she launched her photography business about two years ago and never looked back. Casey has shared some amazing insight about entrepreneurship, photography and following her passion. I love this this girl!!Tell me about a day in your life – before and after starting your project.
Before I began photography, I was struggling. A lot. I was attending classes I wasn’t really in to, I was working a part time job, and I was just not happy with the idea of the future being bogged down with a ton of schooling and tests and papers. Ew. I felt like life was just going while I stood around twiddling my thumbs. As of today, life is crazy but in a great way. Typically, I’ll get up, walk the puppy, check emails and Facebook, get ready for the day, stop by the bank and the post office, do any errands that need to be done, and then I plop down to get to the editing and blogging! Of course this all comes equipped with a large coffee and harassing the barista at my favorite coffee shop.
The big misconception of this job is that I only snap the photos and throw them on a disc with a printing right. This is pretty far from the truth though- most sessions will take me about an hour to filter through the ones I want to edit, 3-4 hours of editing, I have to order my personalized supplies for each client, prepare everything, write blogs, resize images for both Facebook and my blog (these are totally separated since I place my watermark on Facebook images), figure out taxes and separate the money into different accounts for this (by the way, we have to generally plan for about 30% of our income to go straight into taxes while another portion goes into paying for supplies for that specific client), package everything, and finally mail it. It is a TON of hard work, but at the end of the day I’m doing something I adore, which makes it totally worth it!
What are the two top questions asked by your (customers, readers, followers)?
I get asked a ton of questions, but I feel like the two biggest questions are what should they wear and where should they go for the photos. When it comes to your photos, everything can be personalized here. I always suggest my couples wear some fun solid colors or patterns that aren’t too crazy. I love love love coral, turquoise, sea foam green, etc. They photograph SO well in my images since the background is typically natural colors. I always take into account where they will be as well. If they are going to be up against a solid blue wall, I will suggest maybe wearing the coral or anything on that side of the spectrum as blue’s complimentary color is orange. Having these opposites make the photos really pop!
I have a list of wonderful locations to choose from, but I try to ask that they not stick to that by any means. I love variety, especially when that means my clients will have more meaning behind the images. It’s nice for them to go somewhere they frequently visit because in fifty years, you may not go there anymore but you have those memories there on top of having photos rather than images of you standing by that fountain you have never been interested in visiting before. This holds especially true for my engaged couples. I think the sweetest thing is photographing them where they first met or first kissed, even where he proposed or go every Friday night as tradition.What would you like to get to next when you’re able?
I love giving back to others, making them feel special and recognizing their worth… One thing that I’ve noticed quite a bit is how much people want photos, but they make excuses as to why they shouldn’t get them. The primary reason is that they want to lose some weight first. I am all about having a healthy body image no matter what size, shape, or color you are. In today’s society, I know it is hard to stay positive and recognize this in yourself when the media has such a strong impact on how we all feel. My goal is to have my clients celebrate and be proud all that they are- inside and out. I would love to begin hosting workshops for teen girls and women, and inspire them to encourage everyone in their lives to love their bodies and what makes them unique.
What tips can you recommend that you’d only share with a close friend (and everyone reading this blog)?
Always try to help others. I didn’t have a whole lot of help when I first started, and I felt pretty alone. I reached out to several people, but was totally ignored. I wanted to scream, “HOW CAN I LEARN IF NOBODY TEACHES ME?!” ugh. I don’t think my business really got off the ground until I went to my first workshop and met so many wonderful people there! From then on, I would meet up with that same group a few times throughout the year. We had a group created on Facebook so we would constantly have access to photography friends.
Practice, practice, practice. Seriously. I know that’s typical, but it is so important for everything you do. Study whatever you need to, practice it, memorize everything you can, and show the world everything you’ve got!
Random, but if you do a wedding, make sure you bring plenty of drinks and snacks for you and your second shooter. The wedding day can easily last over 10 hours, and you may not have access to this immediately. One wedding I went to only provided three water bottles for the girls, so I felt horrible taking one. Thankfully, we snuck and found extras. I think it was legal.
Be open-minded. People are asking you to photograph them because they want YOU. They could ask anyone, but usually there’s a reason why they asked you to begin with. Show them you really appreciate that! If they have a good connection with you, they’ll likely return. You may need to turn away some clients, but keep in mind that there is a chain reaction here with all clients (word-of-mouth is huge), so be smart when it comes to this.
Stick to your brand. If you only want to photograph weddings, don’t showcase your photos of a kid’s birthday party. Be consistent throughout your work and your business so it’s recognizable as you grow. Think of this like a Michael Kors purse. Everyone recognizes MK products right away (at least I do… *confessions of a shopaholic*) because of the MK logos. That’s what they are paying for too- the brand. If MK began changing everything up left and right, it would most likely lose its value because people would no longer recognize them.
What are three hard-to-spot pitfalls that are critical to avoid?
Do not judge anyone- you never know which clients are going to book your biggest sales, nor do you know who they will share your info with! Word-of-mouth is the biggest factor to growing, so treat every client like gold.
Know what you’re doing- I can’t begin to tell you how many people have told me they aren’t interested in boudoir sessions anymore because they had it done once and didn’t like how it all turned out. You have GOT to know angles for every body type regardless of what session they booked, you have GOT to know lighting for every situation, and you truly should learn how to fully shoot in manual mode. I don’t feel progress can be made unless you have a great understanding of everything you do.
Always be willing to learn and connect with other vendors- How can you stay up with the industry if you don’t get out there and do workshops? Not only are workshops great for learning what’s new, but it is the perfect time to introduce yourself to other vendors that may refer clients your way! Plus you get freebies like cake. Who doesn’t want free cake?Looking out 3-5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in your industry?
Well, I’m already seeing people move away from DVDs and more towards online viewing and sharing. We have several great companies around that allow for this, so the need for DVDs is dwindling. I’ve seen how flash drives are beginning to make a great appearance as well. It’s just a matter of time before it really catches on.
What are three things you’ve told yourself that kept you going during your darkest hour (of business)?
I am more of a visual person, so seeing everything it the best option. One thing I always keep above my desk is a large bulletin board covered in all my thank-you notes. Things can get tough, but seeing all the love my clients send me shows me how much my work is appreciated. I try to constantly plan for upcoming sessions as well because that gives me something to really look forward to, plus it helps me out anyway. I also showcase my favorite images throughout my office. This always provides great inspiration and shows what I’ve accomplished so far.