Do you have friends that are asking you to take their family photos? Maybe a cousin that just had a baby and wants newborn images? Or maybe you’ve even been asked to photograph a wedding, but you are still feeling a little bit nervous to take the leap and call yourself a professional! Here are our top five tips for turning your photography hobby into a full on career. Please note that this list is not all encompassing. Rather, it should serve you as a to - do list to get going.
1. Take a ton of photos.
Yes, obvious. Or maybe not so much. Either way, it is absolutely VITAL to take tons of images before you decide to take this to a professional level. It will help to have varied experience and try everything to get clear about exactly what type of photography you want to be doing. In photography school, we had to try everything, including things that we weren’t exactly comfortable photographing. In fact, almost everything is guaranteed to be out of your comfort zone when you first start out. You might even really dislike the photos that you are getting at first trying out photography. DO NOT GIVE UP. We would be totally lying to you if we said that we don’t look back on our first few years of photography and think, “Hmm, what was I thinking?!”. We actually cringe at some of the first photos we ever took. After a few years, and before we even started our photography business, we had each separately taken tens of thousands of images, all leading up to deciding to start a wedding photography company. Everybody needs to start somewhere. Why not start now?
2. Decide on a niche, create your brand and portfolio.
Now that you’ve taken a ton of photos, and decided which genre (portraiture, landscapes, long exposures, food, macro, wildlife, to name a few) you enjoyed enough to pursue, it’s time to choose your 15-30 best images. This will be a forever evolving set of images. Get people who’s opinions you trust (we are happy to offer our opinion if you want to hear what we think!) to help you choose your best of the best. You’re only as good as your weakest images, in some peoples eyes! Display your selected images on a professional website (we have used Format since day 1, use discount code JULIA10 to receive 10% off! We also use Pic-Time to send our galleries out to clients.), matching your brand. When deciding on a brand, you need to do a bit of thinking and a bit of research. Our brand has already evolved over our 4 years of business, and it will continue to evolve! Are there certain colours that continue to pop up in your photos? Are there certain colours that are sitting in your closet or around your house? These are the colours that most likely represent you and so by including these in your brand, you will be authentically representing yourself as an artist and as a person! You can try creating a logo on your own, but unless you are talented in graphic design, I would suggest hiring a pro (we used local Ayden Creative and absolutely love our new logo)! If you are on a budget, you can attempt to trade services with a new graphic designer, or you can try out fiverr (I’ve never actually tried this, but I’ve heard good things about it).
3. Do your research, and become involved within your industry.
Are there expos or networking events happening in your city for your industry? You’d better find out, and you’d better be there. If you can’t afford to purchase a booth at an event, just attend the event and introduce Research who is absolutely crushing the industry that you hope to be in, within your area, and study what they do differently. Reach out to them (instagram is a great tool for this!) and ask them if you can buy them a coffee or beer and pick their brain about how to be better. You can even ask them to volunteer to help out at a shoot so that you can observe what they are doing and try to incorporate it into your own business. Even if you reach out to ten and the first nine don’t reply or say no to you, maybe the tenth will say yes :).
4. Get your business paperwork in order right away.
Sign up to be a registered business. Buy Photographers Insurance (we get ours through Harvard Western). Create a separate bank account. Keep track of your expenses for tax time. Consult with an accountant and lawyer. Have a set list of prices that you can send to potential clients. This will save you a TON of time. Be willing to customize based on peoples needs / budgets, but know your bottom line and stick to it. Do all of these things before you need to, and create healthy routines to set you up for success when your business is going strong.
5. BE YOURSELF, and be patient.
The best thing you can do in any industry, is be yourself. Don’t feel like you have to imitate everything you see on social media. If you don’t like posting instagram stories, then DONT. If you enjoy studying algorithms and want to know the best times to post for your ideal audience, then DO! Invest in educational books and study Youtube videos and take courses. Just know that there is no “all-in-one” book that you can purchase or no workshop that you can go to that will instantly make you the professional that you want to be. It will take time, it will take patience, it will take a grind. I think the best piece of advice we can give you, is to constantly reflect on your own life experiences, and bring that into your art. That will make you become the best, most authentic professional that you can be. Know that there will be ups and there will be downs, only the best succeed, and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.
We will begin this story in Canmore, AB where we recently photographed an elopement. Though the elopement would only take a half day to photograph, we had booked a few days at the Silver Creek Lodge (a really nice, affordable dog friendly resort) in order to get to know this popular mountain town a little bit better. We started our first morning by meeting our clients at their favourite spot in town – Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. At the suggestion of my lovely client, I ordered the Maple Eggel – a maple flavoured bagel toasted with an egg and cheese combo in the middle. I wouldn’t have normally ordered the Maple Bagel, but damn am I happy I did! That became my “regular” order throughout our stay. Lucas had the Rosemary Parm Eggel with added Ham and he, too, was very impressed. We also were thrilled to see they had Oso Negro Coffee as a part of their wide selection of brewed coffees. Oso is not only delicious, but sentimental to us, as it’s roasted in Nelson, BC where my brother has lived for over a decade. All in all, we loved eating at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co because of the chill vibes, friendly staff and unreal food and coffee. Can’t wait until we go back!
We brought our fur child Nelson with us, so we naturally explored the Dog Parks in the Canmore area. If you’ve been to a dog park, you know about the camaraderie amongst dog owners. Questions about the dog (“Which one is yours?”, “What kind of breed is that”, “How old is she?”) slowly transition into questions about the owner (“How long have you lived here?” “How do you like it?”). We met a few interesting residents with nothing but great things to say about Canmore. One of them was an author from Ireland, who moved to Canmore 14 years ago; the other, an owner of a local Cafe named in honour of his dog who passed on too young. The author told us about how Canmore inspires her work as a creative person, which I can totally understand. The entire town is surrounded by beautiful mountains and seemingly has nothing but happy residents in it. After chatting with the cafe owner, Brad, we decided to visit Black Dog Cafe for a couple of coffees (which we can never get enough of, apparently haha). Black Dog Cafe was really quiet at the time of our visit, and had really friendly staff as well. They also serve beer, wine and liquor (hello Baileys & Coffee) which is an added bonus!
We really enjoyed our time in Canmore, but felt an itch to continue on in our exploration. We decided to hit the highway (#1 –> #93 South) as it would be our first time driving together on the #93 South. The day had relatively bad visibility, so we couldn’t see all the beauty that this particular highway boasts. However, we did a few interesting stops where we were able to do a little bit of hiking! Stop #1 was at the trailhead of Boom Lake. We began the hike without checking the length (I know, total rookie move) and then got about 30 minutes into the hike and figured maybe we should turn around because we weren’t prepared at all with limited food and water. It turns out that it would have been a 3.5 hour hike round trip which we definitely could have completed with our supplies. We will have to do the full hike next time because the photos online of Boom Lake look incredible.
Stop #2 was at the Continental Divide: A place where the water flows either to the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean, depending on which way it melts. That fact to me was SHOCKING. How can the water flow all the way to the Atlantic Ocean from here? It’s nearly 3/4 of the way across our country! The sign that boasts that fact is old and chipped, which makes me wonder about the proud people that installed the sign in the first place. Every letter looks hand carved. So very cool and such a great, authentic representation of the Canadian Rockies.
Stop #3 was Marble Canyon: a short hike just off the highway. The canyon itself is so beautiful. Water erodes the rock as it melts and flows from the tops of surrounding mountains. This thought has always been so awe inspiring to me… that something as seemingly harmless as water, with enough persistence, can leave it’s mark on something as strong and steady as rock.
After all of this exploring, we were getting tired and hungry. We decided it would be best to head back to our cozy hotel room. This is the evening we decided it would be a great idea to spontaneously book a room in Jasper for one night. This would mean we would drive one of the Earth’s top rated drives, The Icefield’s Parkway, to get there.
The day started early. We decided that we would take Highway #1A to Lake Louise. We had been to Lake Louise but never in the winter. Luke proposed to me in June 2016 at Moraine Lake which is on the way to Lake Louise! On the drive up, we couldn’t help but notice a little hotel off the side of the road up, Deer Lodge, looking cute as ever. Winter makes this place look straight out of Hogwarts. So we thought we’d stop in and have some lunch and cappuccinos before our trek to Lake Louise.
All fuelled up, it was now time to drive up to Lake Louise and crush a hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House (<– Click for more info!). The hike took us about 3 hours round trip and Nelson powered through the whole way, too! The tea house itself was closed for the season, but the hike itself was full of incredible views. I can only imagine how amazing it would be in the summer. But the best part about winter explorations is there are WAY less tourists. We had this whole place to ourselves which was so special.
Just after Lake Louise is the turn off for the Icefields Parkway– Highway #93 North: One of The Greatest Drives On Earth. No words can really explain the beauty of this highway. Regardless, you’re probably here for the pictures anyway. But I will say that it has a radiating peace about it, and that I totally understand why it’s the GOAT (greatest of all time) of roads.
You’ve gotta go here. Thanks for reading.
-Julia + Luke.
*All of the restaurant names when first mentioned in this article are clickable links to their instagram accounts!*
This was our third time to Mexico to photograph weddings this winter, and we had stayed on the resort grounds for the previous two trips. We felt so pampered on the resorts, but we LOVE to explore new spots. During our recent trip to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico (a resort area close by Puerto Vallarta), we had the opportunity to take a day trip to Sayulita. Having heard it called a “sleepy west coast surfer town”, we felt very compelled to check it out considering those are all of our favourite words put together. Hahaaaa.
If you haven’t been to Mexico before, you are supposed to ask the cab driver how much before you get in. In this case, our 45 minute cab ride was only 400 Mexican pesos (~$28 Canadian dollars), we also gave him a 150 peso tip. Among our conversation topics were his family, the area around us, and how much he disliked (to put it politely) Trump. The drive was so beautiful and we were marvelled at every turn.
We got there around lunch time, and we totally won the lottery when we stumbled upon Miscelánea Sayulita and decided to make it our first stop! There’s a little sign on the road pointing you towards the cafe, as it doesn’t have “streetfront”. Walking in, you can’t help but immediately notice the perfectly attended to details of the entire place. The space is cozy, and they leave the large doors open to the outdoor patio, letting in beautiful natural light and a soft warm breeze if you’re lucky. The menu boasts some incredible drinks, including the Latte Rosa – a beet cappuccino! Sooooo yummy. I could have spent all day in that cafe, but we new we had other places to see! So we continued on.
After this we thought we’d head to the main beach. It was now afternoon, and the beach was extremely busy with people playing soccer, relaxing, and of course, SURFING!
Our second stop was to a little bar called CAVA. It was extremely quiet in there, and we had the perfect spot for people watching. Another spot we could stay all afternoon. Among the beers we drank, a favourite was this Mexican craft brew from Cucapa, a brewer based out of Mexicali, Baja Sur.
After Cava, we decided it was time to find somewhere to eat! We took a quick stroll through the colourful cobblestone streets, and came across La Esperanza. It translates to “The Hope” in english. I’m still drooling about the food we had there. We grabbed a seat at the back booth, and started chatting with the couple seated next to us. They were from Vancouver Island (there are TONS of Canadians down there at this time of year), and they shared some really cool spots with us that they had been to. Among the spots was a place called Isla Marietas. We were so bummed to not be able to check it out, as we were only there for the day. It looks incredible and if you plan ahead, we think it’s definitely something you should do. I mean, if you’re into incredible scenery and beautiful hidden beaches and stuff. Haha. It’s basically looks like “The Beach” in real life. We’ll definitely be sure to go next trip. Anyways! We had some really incredible eats and drinks at La Esperanza. We decided to split the fish tacos and fish burger, and drank some Mezcal! As Lucas described Mezcal: Tequila is technically consider a Mezcal but is only made from a single agave plant ‘tequilana’ where as Mezcal can be made up from up to 28 varaities of agave. The Mezcal we tried had a wild smokey after taste that definitely sparked my interest more than any tequila has. I left out the part where he tells you I didn’t like it. Because I think mixed into a drink I could like it, just wasn’t in the mood for sipping it… :) Someone suggested mixing it with grapefruit juice and club soda, which sounds like the best beach drink of all time. Here are some images from our La Esperanza experience:
Sadly, we were too hungry to take photos of the delicious food there. You’ll just have to go see it for yourself :)
We decided it was time to go for a real stroll around Sayulita. If you don’t get lost in a place, do you really ever learn about it? We started to walk up a cobblestone street, and after a few wrong turns we found ourselves at what seemed to be a highway with a small mall near it. We saw this hip lady walk out of a shop and asked her which way to the beach. She pointed us in the right direction, but we figured we should check out where she came from. It turns out it was Terrenal Sayulita – an organic shop! They had all kinds of stuff in there, but we ended up bringing home a bag of their locally roasted organic coffee! Which I am currently sipping on as I write this… mmm :-)
With our new loot, we headed back to the heart of town. We came across an inviting restaurant called Ino. We grabbed a seat at the bar and asked the bartender for some Mexican Craft Beers. He suggested Pedra Lisa! It was a delicious, hoppy IPA. Perfect for a hot day! We then asked the staff what we should order. They suggested the pizza, as it’s woodfired and delicious. We went for the traditional Margharita and we were so happy and satisfied, but also so full as this was our second Lunch of the day. We figured that it was time for a swim.
Lucas had heard about a beach called “Beach of The Dead” or Playa de Los Muertos, which was a smaller beach past an old cemetery on the South West side of Sayulita. Sounds… cool? Scary? Whatever, when in Sayulita right!? Along the way, we walked past a mix of a few construction sites, the cutest little stray dogs (SO hard for me not to pet those little cuties), vendors carrying around fresh donuts (if we weren’t so full we def would have bought one), beached fishing boats, outrageous beach front mansions and quaint bed and breakfasts. Then we came across the sign.. “Playa de Los Muertos” with an arrow. We took a left turn onto a quiet gravel road. We walked past a few resting construction workers, then after a short walk we saw it! The cemetary! The graves were totally what you’d expect of a Mexican cemetery… a celebration of life, full of colour and photos and candles and flowers. What a beautiful place to be put to rest. Out of respect we didn’t take photos of the cemetery, but as I write this I regret it because I’m sure those souls would want us to share with everyone to see how beautiful their graves are. Past the cemetery was the entrance to the beach. This beach had only a handful of people at it. I went straight to the water. We saw a group of girls my age walking over the rocks on our right side…where could they be going? Lucas went to check it out. Past the rocks was an even smaller beach, which only had the group of girls and another couple at it. He called me over. We sat on the big rocks at the back of the beach and took deep breaths in and realized how freaking amazing our life is at the moment. We went for a swim! Another place I could have spent a whole day at.
The sun was getting a bit low, so we decided to head back to town to quench our thirst! We stumbled upon a restaurant called La Rustica (their instagram game is off the hook, check it out). We were really impressed with the overall aesthetic, and the kindness of the staff. It seems to be pretty consistent in all of our restaurant experiences in Sayulita! We were still full from our two lunches, so we just settled in for some drinks. I had a Cabernet wine and Lucas had a lager. Nothing too fancy, but we really enjoyed our experience!
Next time we will stay for longer, surf, and try even more delicious restaurants.
If you’re still reading this, thank you for following along! I hope this blog post encourages you to head south to Sayulita. We can’t wait for our next visit.
-Julia & Lucas
PS - What did you think of this article? Do you want more articles like this? If you’ve been to Sayulita, did you go to any of the spots we mentioned? Tell us your thoughts!