Our first fellow Charlottean to be profiled, we warmly welcome wedding photographer, Cheyenne Schultz! Cheyenne and her husband Geoff work as a team, but do not brand themselves as such. Geoff is her second-shooter, does all of the album design, and is the mastermind behind her branding. She shoots with her left eye and LOVES the color and sharpness that comes straight out of her Canon 5D.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
I wouldn’t say there was just one moment that I decided – it kind of happened over the course of a few months. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, but photography as a career just kind of fell in my lap after some friends of ours asked if we’d shoot their engagement pictures based off of some abstract photography I had done on a trip with them to the mountains. The shoot turned out well, so they asked if we’d do her bridal portrait. Before I knew it, our business was blowing up.
17-40mm 4.0, f/4, 1/60, ISO125, 17mm
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Oh goodness…it is so hard to pick just one thing that I’ve found to be valuable – I’ve been a sponge for the past year and have picked up so much valuable information. A few things are: learning how to shoot fully manual, being consistent and original in my brand, not to go cheap on your equipment, and about the importance of networking.
17-40mm 4.0, f/4, 1/500, ISO320, 17mm
What makes you different from everyone else?
This is a question that I’ve thought about daily since I started. I think the one main thing that makes us different than anyone else is that we are us. J Style of shooting, business philosophy, equipment, post-processing technique – all of these things can easily be comparable to others…but there is only one Cheyenne and there is only one Geoff. It is our personalities that make us different.
17-40mm 4.0, f/4, 1/125, ISO800, 17mm
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
It’s a toss up – there are two in particular that I really like to follow:
Kristen Leigh – http://kristenleighphotography.blogspot.com/
Jamie Delaine – http://www.jamiedelaine.com/blog/
I’m inspired (and jealous!) to see these two discover and go after what they love to do at such a young age. I wish I would have found my love for photography and business ownership much earlier in life.
70-200mm 2.8, f/2.8, 1/2500, ISO400, 135mm
One item you can’t live without?
My 70-200…..I SOOOO love this lens. And chocolate. It would be really hard to live life without chocolate.
Your best bokeh image and why?
50mm 1.8, f/1.8, 1/250, ISO250, 50mm
I rarely shoot totally wide open because I can only get 1 out of 10 actually in focus. While waiting for an outfit change of one of our couples during their engagement shoot, I made Geoff model for me so I could play. I LOVED the result, but shooting this way for weddings, portrait sessions, etc. just isn’t practical for me. I’m good at a 2.8.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
FOR SURE Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth. I mean, David Bowie’s white tights are pretty gross, but still – it’s a fave. In fact, I know every single word from that movie – so don’t watch it with me – I’m irritating.
70-200mm 2.8, f/2.8, 1/1000, ISO200, 90mm
Where do you find inspiration?
Easy – I find it in our church – Elevation Church. Seriously, the growth of the church is unexplainable….having gone from a dozen people to thousands in just three short years, it totally blows my mind. They consistently push creative boundaries, don’t compromise their core purpose, and give 100% effort in everything that they do. Mediocrity is NOT an option. This is what I try to emulate in my business.
24-70mm 2.8, f/2.8, 1/1250, ISO200, 70mm
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Here’s my top three:
Nate from The Image is Found: http://www.theblogisfound.com/
Bobbi + Mike: http://www.bobbiandmike.com/blog/
Amelia Lyon: http://www.amelialyon.net/
Seriously, these three rock my face off. It just feels like EVERY image is done with precise intention and is so interesting and incredibly clever. I’m constantly trying to exercise my brain to see things different then the obvious and the norm.
70-200mm 2.8, f/2.8, 1/2500, ISO400, 145mm
Are you a member of any organizations?
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
To fully plunge into my business, I had to leave my full time job. However, it wasn’t just any full time job – it was my career that I spent six years of my time and money getting an education toward. Deciding to leave that all behind took some serious soul searching and wasn’t something I took lightly. What it came down to was that it just wasn’t worth it to stay in a field that I wasn’t happy in just because of my investment – I couldn’t deny the rising passion in my heart for photography and undeniably felt God calling me to it.
50mm 1.8, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO1250, 50mm
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
There’s definitely no magic bullet for getting new clients (at least, I haven’t found it yet!). I’ve found the most business has come from:
-Word of mouth. I try my best to treat my clients as though they are my ONLY client. Happy clients bring more business.
-Networking with local photographers. Create a network to refer clients to when you are booked – they’ll do the same for you.
-Networking with other wedding industry professionals.
17-40mm 4.0, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO1000, 17mm (light source- softbox)
Anything else you would like to share?
It’s great to be inspired by other photographers, but don’t let the work and success of others put you in the pit of self-doubt and discourage you from moving forward in your business….I’ve been there many, many times and it’s only moved me backward. Here’s an excerpt from a post on Jasmine Star’s OLD blog as she was starting out that I found to be particularly encouraging (I even printed it out and put it in a journal of mine):
“What struck me the most was DJ insisting that one of the most vital things to succeed in this industry is faith. Faith that a business will blossom. Faith in thinking outside of the box. Faith that the journey is just as important as the destination. DJ had no clue how close to home his words were hitting. Every sentence pricked my heart because I knew that I needed faith more than I needed anything else. I hung onto his words – picking them out of midair and filing them away in the Never Forget file in my brain – and instantly new it was the sign I was looking for. God used him as my confirmation. I’m going full-throttle with photography and I’m faithful I will succeed.” – Jasmine Star
17-40mm 4.0, f/4, 1/500, ISO125, 29mm