First, let me say that I hope you all enjoyed the April Fool’s feature yesterday. I debated whether or not to do it, but when I realized the schedule for a wednesday posting fell on April 1, I just couldn’t resist! Many thanks to my friend Ryan for allowing me to use his name and likeness. He was very proud to be a part of the joke.
I don’t want to leave the prank up for a whole week on top, so it’s perfect timing to welcome back our fabulous contributor Laura Manzare! She took a little hiatus for a few weeks, but she’s back and ready to help keep the blog’s events updated. Please welcome her back and help her by emailing her any events/seminars/workshops you know about! Without further delay…
Meet Laura, a wedding and portrait photographer in Charlotte, NC who shoots with Nikon with her left eye. She shoots fully manual in RAW and loves Kubota Actions.
Photo by Crystal Genes
Twitter – lauramanzare
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
About a year after I bought my D200 I really wanted to find any job related to photography. I missed working in the studio. I saw an ad for a local company to be there in house photographer. It was for a bridal one stop shop sort of thing. I had never wanted to shoot weddings before, but I decided to see what the owner had to offer. During my interview I saw the work other wedding photographers had produced and said to myself “just try it”. After my first wedding I was stoked. I loved everything about shooting weddings. The amount of love and energy that aluminate on a wedding day is magnificent.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
I learned that in the beginning you will make mistakes. You have to see how things work best for you and you alone. Just because Joe Schmo does things one way, doesn’t mean that way will work for you. I also learned to research research research before making a purchase or commitment. The thing I wish I did do in the very beginning is research great lenses. I have lenses I like, however when I first began I did not plan on shooting weddings. I never dreamed I would even like to. When I bought a lot of my equipment, it was for personal use.
What makes you different from everyone else?
I am who I am. There will never be someone just like me. This is what sets everyone apart from each other.
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Crystal Genes, she is so creative in ways I only dream to be and she has drive that goes beyond obsession.
One item you can’t live without?
A pen. I make lists like it is my job. I write on napkins, envelopes, my hands, paper, post it’s… the list goes on and on. If I cannot write lists of ideas or to dos or doodle…I am useless. This is business and personal wise.
Your best bokeh image and why?
It’s my favorite because I had this image in my head and it came out just as I wanted it to. It was one of the first times I had bokeh on purpose.
I absolutely love the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I also am smitten with Eat Pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert and of course I am a sucker for Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Can’t Buy me love, Say Anything, The Notebook.
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to read other photographer blogs (just as everyone else) but I find inspiration with my clients. A session I do with one client, I probably could not pull off with another. Each individual or couple are so unique, I pull from their energy!
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
I am an overly organized person. I need a schedule and a plan. I need all my ducks in a row or I will feel like I cannot accomplish anything. (You may think this isn’t a very good thing to share or something to be valuable…). I say this is the best aspect of my business. Anyone one can take great photographs. A person needs organization and plans to run a business.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Do you use a second shooter?
I do use second shooters. I love second shooters. I am only one pair of eyes; I can only be in one place at a time.
How would you recommend someone who wants to second shoot with you get the gig?
If you want to second shoot with me then tell me. I am a very blunt outgoing person and I cannot read minds. I am looking for people who have their own equipment, who I love their work, who I enjoy their time (this is where friends come in). I would much rather shoot a wedding with a friend than someone I don’t know very well. And someone who is dependable.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
I am a first year member of WPPI. I have not put myself out there, honestly, to even win an award. (I need to bite the bullet and just do it)
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I am still very much part time. I am currently taking the leap. I started off slow and bumpy. I think everyone (in the beginning) doesn’t know where to start. I also had trouble deciding what I wanted for my business and how I would go about doing so.
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Have an idea and a plan of where you want to go. Even if you do not end up exactly in the place you wanted, at least you had a path to get there.
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
This is really not creative at all and it is very small. When I eat out at a restaurant I leave a good tip and also leave my business card. Its worked out so far. It beats the lame conversation “I am a photographer…no really I am”.
Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If so what have you been successful with?
I currently do not advertise. I have heard a lot of negative that goes along with it. I’m sure it works for some. I would rather build a client base off of word of mouth, that way a prospective client has someone else telling them how their experience was. For anything, just not photography, I would buy something a friend suggested and loved, before going blindly into a purchase.
What is your idea of the perfect photographer network date?
The more I hear networking the more nervous I get. I honestly do not like that word. I was at WPPI this February and Jessica Claire spoke about how she doesn’t really “network” she has friends. I’d rather make friends than make business associates. So if I was going to have a friend date… I’d like to do something that my friend and I enjoy doing together. Example, Crystal Genes has taken me all over town trying crazy meals I never would have planned. Ethiopian cuisine!
Anything else you would like to share?
What else do you want to know? I am an open book.