When did you realize you loved photography? Back then, did you ever think you’d take it up professionally? Or was it just a hobby?
People latch onto photography at different points in their lives. Some spend years in an uninspiring career before getting their true calling. Others know they want the professional life of a photographer early on and work hard to achieve their dream.
In this special ShootDotEdit Feature, you’ll read about one such person who knew what she wanted from the beginning and made it happen — Brandi Salerno of Brandi Allyse Photo.
Brandi: An Inspiration
Brandi is a professional wedding photographer with experience of over 10 years. She runs her wedding photography brand — Brandi Allyse Photo in Dallas. She not only captures the beauty of engagements and weddings but also mentors. And while utilizing her time during the COVID lockdown, Brandi launched her own Lightroom mobile presets as well. They have become a huge hit!
Identifying as a solopreneur, Brandi is a fabulous photographer and a great businesswoman. Not only that, but she does it all while being a mom as well!
Though Brandi was always sure about what she loved doing. She didn’t know if she could really run a business. Like many creatives, she doubted her business acumen. But she never backed out. She says her hard work and help from others drove her to success.
Brandi’s journey from photographer to photography business owner is an inspiring one. There is so much to learn from her. Her simple tips and pieces of advice are real gems for all photographers. So this is how she began and succeeded…
Her Journey to Wedding Photography
Most of us have been through a phase of realization. The time when we realize and put our hearts and mind into a profession. But Brandi always loved photography. As a child, she loved her camera, which was very basic back then. It was still enough to satiate her creative cravings.
She remembers the time when her Grandfather gifted her her first film camera. “Growing up, I was always really interested in taking photos. Like I started in probably middle school,” Brandi says. “I was never without a camera. I always had one on me. Then my grandpa gave me my first Canon film camera. I carried that throughout high school. I wore it to the prom, strapped over my prom dress.”
Brandi says going into college, photography was the only thing that interested her. She got her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts of Photography from the University of Texas. At the time, she only did portraiture. It was when Brandi got engaged that her interest in wedding photography developed.
“For the most part, after graduating I said I’d never want to do weddings. It seemed very intimidating,” says Brandi. “I was so used to portraiture and that’s what felt comfortable. When I got engaged, I had — at the time been following a photographer who in my mind was like a celebrity.”
Brandi told us, she was so enamoured with the photographer that she would read all her blogs. She followed all her posts. So of course Brandi had to hire her for her own engagement and wedding. “After our wedding, she was looking for a second shooter. I was so nervous to ask her. I was like, ‘Maybe you would consider letting me try second-shooting with you?” Brandi was so honest in her approach that she got the chance!
Learn, Grow, Pass it On
Brandi was fortunate to be able to use the photos she captured as a second shooter to build her own wedding portfolio which allowed her to have proof of her beautiful work. She continued working as a second shooter to hone her skills in wedding photography and didn’t start her own venture until she had assisted with at least 75 weddings. She calls second-shooting a great learning experience for her.
She went on to start her own wedding photography business soon after. But she did experience business struggles. “As an artist first, I feel like the business side of things has been possibly my biggest struggle,” she told us. As a creative, Brandi took classes in drawing, ceramics, and paintings. She had never taken a business class. Instead of losing the game, Brandi upped the ante. She took a few classes on business studies to arm herself.
“It’s all part of investing in your brand and in your business. It goes back to creating a better client experience,” she says. “I just want my clients to have the best experience they can. That means making what I’m doing better and constantly evolving it.”
Brandi attended workshops to keep learning and exchanging ideas. “It’s helpful with the community — meeting other photographers and learning their stories and then having that post-workshop community afterward.”
Brandi says one piece of advice that helped her was some coaching she received on how to feel comfortable charging for her work. She shared with us how guilty she felt when charging people in the beginning. She was doubtful of her worth. She would even offer free photography to friends who asked. She advises other photographers who might be feeling the same – just let go! Let go of that guilt and people will pay for your services. “The confidence I have in pricing myself now is something I wish I knew was okay to have at the beginning.”
After the first few years, Brandi was more confident and at ease in her business. She realized it’s ok if some people inquire but never book her. “Not every person that inquires is going to book you and it’s okay,” she says. “If someone said, ‘Hey, we decided to go with someone else.’ I used to take that so personally — like Oh, they didn’t like me. But it’s not that. Everyone has a budget and everyone has specific things that they’re looking for”.
Brandi says though she has a degree in photography, most of her learning came from other photographers. That’s the reason why she believes in mentoring. She is willing to share her knowledge with aspiring photographers and beginners.
How Brandi Decided to Mentor
Brandi recalls that many of her friends asked her how to use their cameras. Even her followers on Instagram would sometimes ask her about it. Sometimes she was short on time but entertained these requests because she wanted to help. But losing time meant losing profits. To balance her time, profits, and her urge to help, she came up with an idea.
Soon she added a Mentoring tab to her website. Now, she offers great mentoring sessions that serve all purposes.
Brandi’s Best Business Practices
Though Brandi shares her knowledge through mentoring, she also was gracious enough to share some of her top tips with us.
- WORKFLOW: “Workflow is key,” says Brandi, and she keeps everything organized. She feels a good workflow is half the work done.
- HONESTY: Brandi believes in honesty. She prefers telling her couples if she ever misses a shot. She feels they would be happy to recreate the moment than getting upset later. “I’ve been through horror stories. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be honest with them and tell them, ‘Hey, I’m not perfect! That photo was terrible. Let’s go do it again.’”
- OUTSOURCING TO SHOOTDOTEDIT: Brandi says outsourcing to ShootDotEdit helped her tremendously. She says her life has changed and become easier after ShootDotEdit. “I had to understand that it’s still my work. I still have full control. I’m getting it back and I can adjust as needed. But it’s so much more important to have that successful workflow and a life outside of my business. So, I mean, ShootDotEdit was life-changing!”
Brandi’s Quick Tips For a Successful Photography Business
- Be a second shooter before you actually start your photography business.
- Focus on your business.
- Take business classes.
- Attend workshops.
- Do not only focus on portfolio building. Surround yourself with people who can answer questions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Rely on other photographers who share.
- Invest in your brand and business.
- Create a better client experience.
- Outsource your editing!
By The Way: Thousands of photographers love and trust ShootDotEdit’s turnaround time of 5 business days or less. Their clients love it, too.
Brandi’s Lightroom Mobile Presets
Learning from Brandi doesn’t stop with just the tips she’s shared with us here. She has set a great example by working on her business during the lockdown. The COVID-led lockdown has hit the wedding industry hard. But Brandi did not sit and wait for restrictions to lift. She utilized the time working on client guides, updating her website and launching Lightroom Mobile Presets.
Brandi’s mobile presets were born from people complimenting her on her personal Instagram posts and friends asking her how she edited the images. She had enough people asking that she decided to create mobile presets based on her most common edits. And they are a huge hit not just for photographers but for anyone who wants to do easy editing on social posts. How did she do it? Good old fashioned research! “I Googled everything on YouTube on how to actually create Presets for mobile” She had to recreate them on her computer and then create her own tutorial on how to download them and import them into Lightroom – “it was a long process!”
Brandi also did a lot of polling of her audience and friends. “I asked a lot of questions with close friends. Even before I launched them, I had several friends use them. And send me Before & Afters”
Though Brandi is a great photographer and solopreneur, she also needs support. No business can survive without good support from family. It motivates, it encourages and makes life easy. Brandi says her husband, who is an accountant, has always been supportive and her family continues to stand by her every day.
“I feel like even from when I started my business, I’ve kind of grown into myself. I’ve kind of gained more identity and confidence in myself. Outside of getting married and having kids, this whole journey has helped me become me.”
Brandi also thanks her sister-in-law, a fellow photographer. She says her sister-in-law has been a great help. They discuss ideas, send business to each other. They understand each other like no other.
Fun Facts About Brandi
- Brandi is a Canon shooter.
- She can’t go to a shoot without her leather harness for the dual camera or dual-lens.
- Her favorite lens is her 35mm, though she also loves her 85mm.
- Brandi grew up singing and still loves to sing and dance.
- She loves making friends and is very social.
Brandi’s Go-To Vendors (Besides ShootDotEdit)
Brandi’s Favorite Apps
Learning From Others
If there is one mantra Brandi follows, it’s that she is always learning from others. We suggest you take it on as well. To learn more from Brandi and find inspiration, you can follow her on Instagram. You can also see her work on Facebook. You can buy her Lightroom Mobile Presets here. And to book her contact here.
Brandi — thank you so much for sitting down with us here at ShootDotEdit. We’re proud to call you a ShootDotEdit customer and we can’t wait to see more of your work to come!