There’s one thing about creativity — the more you use, the more you have! A creative mind will find a new way every time it wants to express itself. It will tell you the same, yet diverse, story each time.
Joseph McFetridge completely fits this definition of creativity. McFetridge, who’s better known as Joe in his circles, is one talented creative. He’s a successful wedding photographer based out of Philadelphia and runs two brands of his own. His first brand deals with Weddings, engagements and family portraits and is called Love By Joe Mac. His second brand, Joe Mac Creative covers business headshots and corporate photography.
We have an awesome video to share with you on Joe! Check it out below and then read on to find out more about Love by Joe Mac!
We’re thrilled to feature Joseph McFetridge and hope you can be inspired by his journey.
Joe is a diversity-driven photographer. He’s diverse not only when it comes to photographing different genres altogether but also attracts diverse clients to his portrait and wedding business. This, however, didn’t happen overnight. His hunger to learn more, his hard work, and his passion for photography led him to where he is today, and still growing!
Joe’s Journey From Teaching to Becoming a Wedding Photographer
Joe got his first film camera when he was about 10 years old. He developed a deep love for the craft within a few days. Soon he was THAT kid – the one in the family who would photograph everything during vacations and outings. He loved getting the film developed and making family albums. Joe says this helped him grow early on as a photographer.
Later, when Joe attended college, he took up ceramics as his main subject but enrolled in a photography class also. This is what actually led him to his first professional experience in wedding photography.
“I was in college. I was taking a photo class and one of my friends was connected with a local photographer. He was looking for a second shooter and said, ‘Oh yeah! you don’t need to have a ton of experience. I’ll give you the camera. The card is in it, you take the camera and shoot.’ And I thought, alright, I can do this.”
The photographer pointed out early that Joe had an eye for composition. “That was what kept me going,” Joe says.
Joe finished college and started teaching in public schools. He also photographed a couple of weddings for his friends, simultaneously. In the second year of his teaching career, he got married and that was when another door opened for him. “The photographer who photographed my wedding was looking for second shooters and associates. That led me into shooting for him part-time.”
Joe learned a lot while second shooting and prepared himself enough to be able to start his own wedding photography business.
…but Starting a Business Was Scary!
Starting a business is not easy and in a situation when you already have a steady income, the decision becomes more difficult. Joe was bringing home a fixed salary every month through his job as a teacher. To jump full time into wedding photography was a risk and the transition wasn’t easy.
“I thought teaching was going to give my life structure and consistency. And I wanted that. The ambiguity of getting into photography was very scary. You don’t always know where the work is coming from. You don’t always know what’s going to happen next, especially in pandemic times. You’re always thinking, how am I going to make this work?”
However, Joe believed in himself and with support from his husband, he jumped into the arena. And he hasn’t looked back since.
Joe’s Best Business Practices
Besides great photography, Joe’s best business practices helped him build a successful business. He shared some of his practices with us.
Joe told us how he relies on building relationships and networking rather than advertising his business. His clients come mostly through referrals.
“I don’t do a ton of online advertising. A lot of my connections are through networking.”
Joe has been really involved in networking events, getting to know his local chamber of commerce. “Philadelphia has LGBTQ chamber of commerce that I was able to connect with.” This chamber has helped Joe by opening doors for a more diverse line of work instead of weddings only. Joe shares “I only do a certain amount of wedding work every year” so he supplements with commercial and business portraiture.
“I had a show featuring my portraits at the Delaware Art Museum. It was a big exhibition. They commissioned me to do a hundred portraits of people from Wilmington from their community days where people could come and sign up to have their portrait taken. And I generated one hundred portraits of the locals.” This exhibit came about from one of Joe’s many connections through networking and was an opportunity for a larger audience to see his studio portraiture.
2. Catering Towards Diversity
Being diverse is Joe’s strength as well as a best business practice – he doesn’t just limit himself to wedding photography. He diversifies. At present, 50% of Joe’s work involves weddings, 25% of it is corporate and marketing photography, and the remaining 25% deals with fine art portrait work.
In addition to diversifying what he offers, when it comes to being diverse in wedding photography, Joe’s clients include heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. Joe loves bringing out the true essence of love through his photography.
“I do generally try to cater towards diversity in general. I love that I have a diverse friend group. The community which I generally surround myself with is pretty diverse. It just brings all types of people into my life. I love to showcase all the amazing people I’m connected with and that’s my community. So I work to photograph and serve them in the best way I can.”
3. Loving His Clients
Joe made it a point from the beginning of his wedding photography business to love his diverse clients as humans first and customers later. This practice helped him through difficult times like COVID. When things started getting a little better after the lockdown, Joe made himself available to help his couples. He even suggested ways they could get still get married safely (rather than cancel) by encouraging them to have small, socially distanced, intimate weddings where family and friends can watch remotely and even raise toasts via video calls. This way everyone gets to witness the wedding without risking their health.
“If you want to get married this year, you should do a small intimate wedding. You can have a beautiful wedding with 20 people outside safely. And then you can have a party next year. So I allowed my clients to take their package and split it in half. One part (a ceremony) this year and then a party next year. So I’ve actually been busy with that and I’m actually overbooked right now. So it’s been a lot to keep up with going from zero (during lockdown) to a hundred (when lockdown was over).”
Joe’s Words of Wisdom For Beginners
After his best business practices Joe shared some of the things he learned in the process of becoming a successful business owner and photographer. Here are his tips for beginners or newcomers to the wedding industry.
1. “Early on, I said yes to everything.”
This piece of advice isn’t meant to drive newcomers towards projects that don’t interest them, and he is not advising that anyone put themselves in risky situations, but he is suggesting that by saying YES to diverse opportunities that comes your way, you can challenge yourself, experiment more, and eventually not only find out what you love to do, but also learn what you don’t like to do.
2. Experiment With Lighting and Posing
As an educator, Joe always encourages aspiring photographers to look at an image and think how it was made and where the light was coming from. He says playing with lighting and posing can make an image go from good to stunning.
“Photography is all about light! You can create such amazing narratives and compositions by using and shaping light.”
“It’s up to you what you use to shape light. A small light for tight shots and large reflector for wide shots can be a total game changer when it comes to lighting a subject. A good reflector can balance out the light ratio by bouncing back the light you already have and filing in the shadows, so you have more control to properly expose your image. And when it comes to wedding photography a bride will probably always love the soft glow a reflector gives to even out the skin.”
Though Love by Joe Mac is a one-man business, Joe realized what he had been missing by not outsourcing. Joe advises beginners to start outsourcing early on to save time and keep sane.
“I use Millers for printing. But right now I’m looking for someone to outsource album work to.”
“I think the pandemic taught me how important it is having time to spend with people and how valuable that is. So finding more ways to outsource things is definitely something that’s going to help me grow.”
Joe also uses ShootDotEdit’s professional photo editing services to finish and deliver his work on time.
How ShootDotEdit Helped Joe Boost His Business
Joe calls himself an artist first over a business-owner. So handling business was difficult for him without help with post production photo editing. Joe says ShootDotEdit helped him a lot with this.
“ShootDotEdit has really helped me out because I am not a businessman. So normal business tasks always take me way longer than they should. So I really need to leverage my time. And so having someone to take care of the editing for shoots like ShootDotEdit does is exactly what I need. It frees me up to connect with people more, to manage clients more, manage my business more because I can get lost in editing. I can spend hours and hours and hours. And if I have someone I trust editing to, and they know what they’re doing, I can just relax and focus on trying to run my business.”
Joe’s go-to Vendors
- ShootDotEdit for Editing
- Millers lab for printing
- Dubsado for business management
- Honeybook for client management
Learn More From Joe
Joe you are an inspiration to all creatives who think they won’t be able to run a business. You’ve shown them a way and proved that determination and focus along with talent can make it happen. We’re sure there’s much more the photographer community can learn from you on being diverse and loving what you do.
Joe — thank you so much for taking out some time from your busy schedule to share your journey with us. We’re proud to call you a ShootDotEdit. customer and can’t wait to see more of your work to come!
Do you love our Features on Pro Wedding Photographers? Check out a few more of them here for some additional inspiration! NAIL THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE: FEATURING ORLANDO OLIVEIRAand “BE YOURSELF — THE REST WILL FOLLOW”.