NINJA: How did you go from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time?
I started, like a lot of photographers, by shooting friends weddings or friends of friends weddings. My very first wedding was my friend Kimberley, and she only had a photographer for a few hours for her ceremony and the creative photos. I didn’t like that she didn’t have the photographer for the whole day, and to this day I don’t really offer short hours packages. I shot her getting ready photos, and her reception for her and I kinda liked what I produced for her, and she seemed over the moon with the photos. Of course looking back now the photos are a bit laughable and not laughable at the same time – I am proud of what I did as a first time photographer but they make me laugh because I did some dodgy things in post (selective colour anyone?).
From there I shot an Indian / Kiwi wedding which was over a few days – they had a professional photographer who had an assistant already but I was asked to shoot the guys and tag along to everything. It was all for free but because it was such a huge event I learnt a lot and gained a lot of confidence. I am absolutely certain and I annoyed the shit out of that pro photographer but I didn’t care I was legit now, haha! My first paid wedding was a work colleague who had seen my work who paid for me to go and shoot her wedding in Malaysia.
From there I just built up my business, fumbling around with websites and marketing and editing and late nights and working full time. I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things backwards, but I was learning all the time and eventually I moved what I was doing along. The shift to being full time came with a lifestyle shift for me – I was getting quite busy but not really getting the time to develop and market myself as I would have liked – I needed to make the leap of faith which meant selling up everything in Auckland and quitting my job to make a go of it in a new market – Hawke’s Bay. There is nothing like HAVING to make it work to get you to make it work. I am lucky that I’ve been able to make it work but it has been hard work, and at times it’s been very stressful.