Kari Douma Photography – Grandville, MI

Meet Kari, a single shooter who shares studio space with another independent photographer.  Kari is a wedding photographer and also really enjoys senior and newborn photography.  She shoots RAW, “97% Manual, 2.5% Aperture Priority, 0.5% Shutter Priority”, uses her right eye and Kubota Actions.  On another note, Kari is our very first profiled photographer who uses neither Nikon nor Canon, but Fuji!


Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
I started photography as a hobby, taking pictures of my own children.  People started asking me to do their portraits.  I wanted more equipment to produce better results, and by doing that, I was attracting  more clients.  It was a circle.  I remember one day thinking that I either had to really sink some money into more equipment and make it a business, or give it up and stop doing it for other people.  I decided on the business….

01doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 70-200 2.8 at F4, 1/320 at 100 ISO No Flash

What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
A photography business is 80% business smarts, and 20% photography smarts.  There are GREAT photographers who don’t have a successful business, because they don’t have the business smarts.  There are great business owners out there who aren’t really that great of photographers, but they have a great sense of business.  I want both!

02doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F9, 1/250 at 400 ISO Off camera flash, set on Manual mode, fired with pocket wizzards

What makes you different from everyone else?

I listen to my client and give them what they desire.  I listen to what they like, and help them receive what they are seeking from my business.

Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?

I am not sure about up and coming…. I have a lot of favorites, but they are already there in my opinion!

One item you can’t live without?

Only one??? Boy, that is hard, but I would have to say My Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR lens

Your best bokeh image and why?

11Manual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 70-200 2.8 at F4, 1/400 at 400 ISO No Flash – I love the bokeh from the 70-200 at 200mm

I had a hard time picking out my favorite bokeh image!  But this is what I ended up on.  I love the expression on this child’s face, combined with the creamy bokeh in the background, and it makes a perfect image!

Favorite book?

The Bible

Favorite movie?

I don’t really watch a lot of movies…. I don’t have time!

Where do you find inspiration?

I am a workshop junkie… I love them!  I love to hear speakers and get inspired!

03doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F8, 1/125 at 100 ISO with studio lighting

What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?

Not sure what you mean here……

Do you use a second shooter?

Yes, I use a second shooter for all my weddings.  We have worked together for 3 years.  We have a great system down.  I know exactly what he is going to cover, he knows what I am going to cover, and we always work great together.  We cover the event perfectly!  I do not have a second shooter for portraits, although I have an apprentice working with me now who accompanies me on some of my portrait sessions.

04doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 70-200 2.8 at F16, 1/400 at 100 ISO No Flash

How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?

I guess start by contacting me… then showing me that they have a passion for the craft.  I have had second shooters that just don’t have the drive and the passion to succeed at this profession.

If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?

I have a couple, and I can’t pick…..Jeff and Julia Woods, Gerry Ghionis, Mike Colon, Bobbi+Mike, Amber Holritz

07doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F14, 10 seconds at 100 ISO

Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards or been published?

I am a member of: Professional Photographers of America, Professional Photographers of Michigan, Professional Photographers of Western Michigan, and National Association of Photoshop Professionals.  I have won merits from PPA, and I have one print that made it into the Loan Collection in 2008.  I was named one of the top 10 photographers of the year in Professional Photographers of Western Michigan in 2007, and Photographer of the year in 2008.

10doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S3, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F8, 125 at 400 ISO

What did you have to do to actually take the leap?  Did you have any hoops to jump through?

No, I owned another business before I was a full time photographer, so I had the business knowledge.  The biggest leap was to commit financially.

Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?

Work your way into the business.  Work for another photographer for a year or two to learn the business.  The business is more than being a good photographer.  Join a local organization, to network, learn, and grow with other photographers.

05doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F9, 1/200 at 100 ISO with studio lighting

What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?

I get all my clients by word of mouth.  I do slideshows for all my clients.  This way they can share their images with all their friends.  I also make a mini album for all my brides.  This is a purse sized album that they can carry around to show to their friends. (So, I guess that is not really that creative!)

09doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F8, 1/6 at 100 ISO

What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
Hmmmm….. I guess the perfect networking date would be to get with other vendors that we could work on building each others businesses.  I love to refer vendors that I believe in.  I don’t have any problem recommending something to someone that I am in love with, especially if they have great customer service.  I hope others feel that way about me.

06doumaManual Mode, shot with Fuji S5, and Nikon 17-55 2.8 at F7.1, 1/4000 at 200 ISO

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