I’ve got an exciting one for you today! Quick throwback to our Wedding Photography Summit last month in May, I wanted to make sure that with every summit, the lineup keeps getting bigger and better. As creative entrepreneurs, it’s so important for us to get into the room with industry experts and icons who are already making the impossible happen. Challenging your mindset and equipping you with strategic know-how, empowering you to take your business further than ever before.
As many of you know, Jose Villa is a celebrity wedding photographer and I’ve admired his work for years. Having shot A-list celebrity weddings including Justin Bieber’s and Nick Jonas’s, Jose has been named one of the most influential photographers of our decade and is seriously a force to be reckoned with! A massive inspiration for many, including myself, we hosted a Q&A during the summit where Jose talked to us about ‘Attracting High-End Clients’. If you purchased a VIP ticket for the summit, you’ll be able to access a replay via your portal.
Keeping things real, I invited Jose to join me on one of my latest ‘Make Your Break’ podcast episodes to chat about his beginnings and how he made his break.
With over 18 years of experience, it may be hard for us to believe that Jose once started at the very beginning, just like the rest of us. He just started assisting people and networking via commercial and fashion work. Though his ultimate goal was to shoot weddings, he began small by doing little portraits with families and children.
Image Credit: Jose Villa
Figuring it out as he went along, Jose gained momentum through client referrals and he caught his first big break when he got the chance to photograph Martha Stewart’s niece’s wedding in Las Vegas. Teaming with Martha Stewart’s designers and stylists, he learnt little tricks about photographing the small details. With a six-page spread in the magazine, more inquiries naturally started flowing in and the magazine would hire Jose to photograph particular weddings, landing him covers and features.
It definitely didn’t happen overnight, maybe seven or eight years into his business. Jose was working 24/7 photographing and editing as many weddings as possible, and relentlessly submitting them to publications for feature opportunities. Despite endless rejections, he never gave up and continued submitting until someone took notice.
Whether you’re photographing or showing personal work, it’s super important that you only show what you want in return. You need to ruthlessly cull your Instagram photos from years ago, only keeping what’s on-brand. It’ll take time but you want to get to a point where people are identifying your work just by looking at it and not by reading who the photo is from.
Even if it takes reinventing yourself, you need to strive for consistency and achieve a specific look that you can consistently replicate whenever you create. This ensures the longevity of your success in the industry.
There are so many trends that will come and go. You don’t need to blindly follow what’s trending or second guess yourself, stick to your vision and your brand vision. Don’t get distracted by the noise – find your edge, establish your market and stay true to who you really are.
Image Credit: Jose Villa
The reality is you can’t be bothered by it. As an artist, it’s natural human instinct to feel like someone’s copying you but try to see it in a different way. It’ll push you beyond your limits to stay competitive and ahead of the competition. We will always source inspiration from other famous photographers – don’t just copy it exactly, build onto it and make it better. Whether it’s lighting or posing, find a way to make it yours.
We tend to hide ourselves and the things that make us unique, which really, we should be leaning into. The second you don’t try to fit in is the second that your business will blow up. As artists, we all have some sort of thing that bothers us or we’re embarrassed about. Even though it’s hard, we need to practice just getting things out there that may make you or other people uncomfortable. Get yourself out of your own head and don’t be too afraid of your own shadow, and focusing on establishing your confidence and finding your people.
You can also purchase his book on ‘fine art wedding photography’ here.
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