With every person you encounter during your career, you will find they each have a unique story that got them to where they are today. Denver, Colorado photographer, Sarah Roshan, is no exception to this. Years ago, after learning the news that a car accident would leave her unable to pursue her painting career, she decided to start her wedding photography business.
Five years into running her own business in the competitive photography industry, one of the largest floods in Denver’s history happened right outside her door. The flood demolished everything; homes, cars, and buildings – including the destruction of many wedding venues and local vendors’ sites. Instead of immediately worrying for herself or her business, Sarah began to think of the couples who were scheduled to be married in the upcoming days and weeks. Realizing that these couples, as well as her fellow photographers and vendors, all who worked for months to prepare for the big day, would have no venue or equipment to work with, she quickly started formalizing a plan to help them.
Discovering Ways to Spread the Word
As Sarah started to reach out to local photographers, as well as the couples who were scheduled to marry, she realized there were more people who needed help (none of which were her clients). These were clients of her fellow Denver wedding photographers, and though she did not immediately have anything to gain for her own photography business, she felt a sense of urgency to help the community during this time.
Within the first day, Sarah and a few local wedding planners moved four weddings that were scheduled for the upcoming weekend. As they continued working, they realized there were so many couples, vendors, and photographers affected by the storm. To keep everything organized and to make sure no one was missed, Sarah created a Facebook page. This page reached out to anyone in the area who was getting married and was affected by this natural disaster. She quickly shared the page with each of her social media groups, knowing she did not have the resources to contact every local venue on her own. Within the first night, hundreds of people reached out to Sarah’s page, letting her know they were affected.
“I woke up the next morning and had 300 Facebook notifications, a ton of emails and voicemails – and it was only ten in the morning!”
Putting a Plan in Action
Whether it was a couple who lost their wedding venue, a vendor who was unable to travel from where they lived, or a photographer who was having difficulty finding a new place to shoot, they reached out to Sarah’s page and she knew it was time to help. Since hundreds of people responded, she enlisted a few local wedding planners to help her create a spreadsheet of all incoming inquiries. Once it was written down, it was then delegated to a planner or vendor to ensure the event was rescheduled in a new venue. Also, there were many photographers and vendors who lived in the mountains who had no way to travel to the destination of the wedding site. Sarah made sure that other local photographers covered them, or the dates were moved to accommodate them.
“We wanted to help as many people as we could. The people that we didn’t help…we didn’t hear from.”
Working with her wedding collective, Sarah pulled as many resources as possible to create a new plan for each couples’ wedding day.
Finding Inspiration through the Storm
One might ask why Sarah spent many sleepless nights working with local couples, photographers, and vendors during this disaster. The answer is simple: she supports her community. In turn, she knows her community is full of individuals who are supportive and willing to help during a crisis.
“I’ve always had a romantic view of the world, where I believe people are innately good. I knew they would step up, but actually watching people help and volunteer their time is more humbling than anything else.”
The storm that potentially could have ruined hundreds of weddings and business for local photographers and vendors turned out to be the key to bringing Sarah and her community closer together. She knows that although the industry is competitive, and there is always someone new, her local photography community will continue to work together to help each other and make sure that each photographer has success. Sarah realized the more photographers help one another, the better the industry will be. One of the lessons she learned from this disaster is that it is important to continue to inspire her fellow photographers, as well as help them with their business.
As far as what is next for the local hero, and self-proclaimed care free photographer, she plans to continue growing as a wedding photographer and a business owner. Struggling with the same time scheduling demands as all photographers, Sarah continues to find ways to help and serve the community whenever she can.
Understanding who you are as a wedding photographer is crucial to attracting the right clients, as well as booking the weddings you want. Find out how you can spend more time searching for your ideal client and less time on your photography post production with our How to Grow Your Wedding Photography Business Guide: 2015 Updated Edition!