Meet Brandi Thompson. Originally a single shooter, her husband Brian was recently added to the team as a second shooter for weddings.
Brandi is a full-time wedding and lifestyle photographer who uses canon equipment and shoots with her right eye.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
I have been interested in photography, hobby wise, for probably ten years. I had a full time office job, and was trying to go to school full time, and it had come to the point that I either quit going to school full time, which would have either made getting my degree (fashion design) impossible, or at least taken like eight years, OR find another, more flexible source of income. I chose B, and I have been incredibly blessed to have met with the success I’ve had in the last year.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Be yourself! Do what YOU want to do and don’t just follow all the trends. I am the most successful when I simply act like myself and follow my heart.
f/2.8, 1/250, ISO 1000, 50mm
What makes you different from everyone else?
Well, I’d say quite a few things 😉 I think one strength of mine is that I feel like I really know what flatters the human body. I think this comes from my love of fashion. It’s not all about what’s trendy, but what looks good for every person, regardless of their body type. This includes the most flattering poses as well. I feel like I have an eye for knowing when a body looks its best.
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
I think that Rachael Earl has a fun, fresh kind of approach. She really shows her personality too, and I like that. http://www.earlphotography.com/
f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 800, 235mm
One item you can’t live without?
I couldn’t really limit myself to one item, but I will tell you one thing I can’t live without, and that’s my cat Harley. Outside of my husband, she’s my best friend, and my constant companion. And I do mean constant. She’s in my lap right now. J
Your own favorite bokeh image?
f/2.2, 1/320, ISO 320, 50mm
This image is from a little boy during a family session. I love it for several reasons. First, it was total luck that I caught him looking directly at me so perfectly. I love how the bokeh still gives that sunshiney feeling that the day had. It’s not quite wide open, so the circles aren’t perfectly round, but I like that, because it’s kind of like me.. 😉 I think the image is warm and inviting and it highlights his cute face perfectly.
Oooh, I love so many books. I love to read, when I have the time. I can’t pick one, but I can tell you my favorite author. It’s Oscar Wilde!
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
f/3.5, 1/200, ISO 500, 70mm
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see something and say “oooh, that’d be a great picture!”. I think that life is art, and that I am just here to stop a moment of art in time.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
Me! My eye and my personality.
f/8, 1/200, ISO 400, 28mm
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Bobbi + Mike (http://www.bobbiandmike.com)! Although I guess I’d be third shooting then. I chose them because not only do they have fabulous photography, but I love their outgoing personalities. They’re a little wacky and not afraid to show it, just like me.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
I am a member of PPA. I have won quite a few awards in my life, but none yet for photography. 😉
f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 800, 38mm
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
Well, it was really hard at first, because I was still working part time for my ‘real’ job, doing photography AND going to school 15 hours. I could barely keep my head on straight. Happily, I am now only a photographer and a student! Obviously, there is a lot of monetary investment as well.
f/4, 1/125, ISO 800, 60mm
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
What I suggest is research, research, research. Find out what you equipment you need to buy to do the photography you want to do. Become technically proficient. Don’t just jump head first into taking money for your work. I did many portfolio building sessions because my attitude was, I wasn’t going to take money for something I was not proud of. Take constructive criticism. Listen to others, but don’t get TOO caught up in what’s hot, unless you do your own personal research first. Be friendly, smile, laugh, and love what you do.
What’s the biggest thing you did to get the ball rolling in getting clients?
The portfolio building I did really helped me establish a client base. I have had many people I did free portfolio building shoots for hire me later on, including a wedding. Also, I have had one portfolio building client alone refer me two weddings and several sessions. Treat these people just as well as you’d treat anyone, and they will bring you business. One of the best places I looked to find these clients was a message board for a local city. I got a slew of emails from just one post. Also I would check with friends of friends to see if they knew anybody. All those portfolio building shots have really paid off in the end, and I’ve established great relationships.
f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 1600, 40mm