Business + Marketing

Steps to Becoming A Six-Figure Wedding Photographer

December 20, 2018

By Ashley Beasley

© Luke and Ashley

This article begins a monthly online-only series on the stepping stones to becoming a six-figure wedding photographer. Stay tuned for specific tactics and techniques on getting yourself there, like building a site that truly reflects your brand.

In a world driven by social media and instant connection to the success of others, we can quickly become disillusioned by our ventures. We find ourselves comparing the grunt of our lives and business to the highly curated feeds of those we look up to. If we are not careful, we will end up despising the journey, and the journey is what makes our stories worth telling.

Our journey in running a wedding photography business has been a rollercoaster, and our story did not start by picking up a camera and falling in love with photography.

In 2008, after we both separated from the Air Force, we bought an existing water-delivery business. We had no business buying this company, but the drive to be our own bosses was too powerful, and we dived right in. We gave it our best, but with our lack of knowledge, the recession and a bad deal, we had to close the doors a year later.

This was devastating. We had two kids, another on the way, and $86,000 in debt that we took with us from this venture. We had no jobs lined up. We struggled just to keep the lights on.

This part of our history is still painful. I can remember the shame that set in when we had to head to the social service building for government assistance. Asking for help was never where we saw ourselves, and it was a humbling experience for us both. Despite the hardships, we would not be where we are today without the struggles. We knew we had to figure this out—and quick.

At the time, we were taking pictures at our church, just for fun. We had no professional camera. When a friend asked if we could take their wedding photos, we had to borrow a camera from another friend. But after the wedding, we realized how much we enjoyed being part of their special day. It was a nice change to get our minds off of our problems and focus on a day full of joy and celebration.

Our friends were gracious to us and paid us $200. We had no idea what we were doing, and yet they were happy with the memories we captured for them.

This was when the lightbulb went off. We realized that we could charge money to take pictures. (You might be cringing as you read this, but remember, we were brand new to this). We were by no means professional, but we were desperate to stay in our house and put food on the table. Everyone starts somewhere, and our somewhere started out of desperation. So began our photography business.

Our success hasn’t come without its fair share of mistakes. That is the kind of territory that comes with learning how to run a business and a new skill at the same time. There were many times we could have thrown in the towel and called it quits. There were many times outsiders thought we were crazy and believed we should be chasing a “real job.”

The thing is: The fight is worth it when you want something. The number one secret of all successful entrepreneurs is persistence. Showing up each day and willing to figure things out is what keeps a business moving forward.

We spent the last seven years diving into learning everything that we could about photography, business and running a company as a husband-and-wife team. We built our business from the ground up, and from that, we fell in love with wedding photography. This business has given us a desire to serve our clients and go above and beyond. It has grown from a means to put food on the table to our way of life and a passion for serving.

It’s funny: After paying off our debt, going full-time with our business and bringing in a six-figure income, we still fall into the comparison trap when we move our eyes off our path and onto someone else’s. We find ourselves regretting our story and questioning our value. But after seven years, those thoughts are dwindling with time. We quickly remind ourselves to stay in our lane and focus on what we have before us. We challenge ourselves daily to remain persistent.

No matter where you are in your journey, stay the course. Don’t undervalue the obstacles you face. Those obstacles and struggles will only give you the character and experience you need to take your dreams to greater heights. The hurdles of today will become your future victories.

Ashley Beasley and her husband, Luke, are a photo duo based in Virginia. They run their own education platform called Luke & Ashley Education