An Interview With Vanessa Joy February 18 2015, 0 Comments
Today I am excited to share an interview with a dear friend of mine and incredible photographer/business person, Vanessa Joy! I met Vanessa at a conference in New Jersey about 5 years ago and have watched as her photography and speaking career has really blown up and has taken her to some remarkable places. Since she was one of the first photographers in the world to get a copy of the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit and has been kind enough to rave about it all over the world, I figured she would be a great fit for our first LRT interview!
So tell us a little about yourself, Vanessa! Where are you from, what type of photography do you specialize in, and how would you define your style?
I'm from the great state of New Jersey, one of the biggest wedding marketings in the country. It's great because I specialize in weddings, but challenging because I'm one of a very large pool of natural light style wedding photographers in my area and need to find new ways to differentiate my work every day.
How long have you been doing this professionally?
I've been a professional photographer for 11 years.
Was there a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be a photographer for a living?
Ironically, for the longest time I thought that I couldn't make a living being solely a photographer. My first photography mentor was a high school teacher during the week and a photographer on the weekends. I thought that's how photographers make it work so I became a Spanish teacher the same year I started my wedding photography business.
Two and a half years into teaching, I got married myself and didn't love going to work in the morning, only to come home to my husband who I could say hi to right before marching upstairs to get to work on my photography business. Thankfully, my business was growing exponentially and I was able to make the decision to leave my teaching career and pursue photography exclusively. Though, I had to quit teaching before the school year even ended!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I've loved being able to take my knowledge of teaching and use it to teach photography and business. Creating www.LearnPhotoVideo.com and speaking at photography conventions and workshops has been a blast and I enjoy passing on my experience to other photographers.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened in your career?
Being sick on a wedding is no fun at all, but combo that with a wicked, uncontrollable 5 minute long coughing attack while posing the family photos. and that just takes the cake.
Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
Mentors and colleagues in the industry as well as bridal resources like Pinterest. I figure if my brides are inspired by the imagery there, then I should be too!
You are very active in promoting your business on social media. What are some of your social media strategies and from what platform do you find the most clients?
With social media being as powerful as it is, I find its beneficial to cast a wide net and make sure you're moderately active in as many platforms as possible. I use a tool called Everypost to help streamline my interaction across multiple social media outlets. I've had clients find me on Facebook, Pinterest, Google and Instagram. It's definitely worth the effort to incorporate your social media into your marketing plan.
You are a marketing junky and avid reader - what book has had the biggest influence on your business and why?
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey is one of my favorites. It doesn't have as much to do with marketing as it does with business overall. It has a solid advise on how to run a business effectively and some tough to hear advise on being an entrepreneur.
What are the top 5 books you would recommend for photographers or business owners?
You can view that here. :-)
You offer same-day-slideshows at the wedding reception. Do you do this for every wedding? Can you tell us a little about how you put that together, display it, and what benefits you get from it in your business?
I display a digital picture frame on a small cocktail table with roughly 30 pictures on it at every wedding reception I can. Additionally, I enjoy surprising my brides and grooms with a same day album as well. It's the best marketing I do for my business and it absolutely thrills my clients. I have an assistant help me putting everything together the night of, and because of this same day edit process, I'm able to complete a TON of work that most photographers do the week after the wedding. Things like uploading photos to Facebook, getting my blog post ready and having photos ready to submit to get published is all done at the reception. You can learn more about that and my overall marketing process here.
What has been the coolest destination you have photographed a wedding? What is your dream destination for a wedding?
I've been lucky enough to shoot in Napa, London, NYC, Mexico and St. Lucia. My favorite destination, however, was a little nursery and garden in Pennsylvania that held one of the most intimate weddings I've ever witnessed.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting a wedding photography business, what would it be?
Never stop learning and learn as much as you can by working for other photographers before branching out on your own. I see too many new photographers thinking the first step to a photography career is to start a business, open a website and shoot a wedding. The best thing you can do is to learn and make mistakes by working for someone else's business rather than potentially ruining your own before it starts.
Can you share some more of your favorite images?
I also wanted to share this video Vanessa made about the Lightroom Retouching Toolkit after we launched at WPPI last year! Use code JOY10 at checkout to save $10 on the LRT!