Where Do I Start?

We are starting a new series today! But first…we have a confession.

We waited a while to start this series because we were afraid. We know there are so many other amazing photographers out there and we always felt that they would know the answers far better than we ever could. But then we put aside our pride (that’s what keeps us from doing a lot of the things we should do…totally different subject) just long enough to look back at our mission and why we do what we do. It’s not about us. It’s not about how good or not good we might be in comparison to someone else. It’s about serving. And so we decided not to put this series off any longer!

So what is this going to be all about? Good question! We are blessed to have the opportunity to answer a good number of questions about our business from time to time. Sometimes the questions come from photographers. Sometimes they come from church friends or acquaintances. Sometimes they even come from potential brides! So in the interest of serving more people, we decided to take some of the most common questions we get asked and put them into a series called the “Ask Ryan & Alyssa” series!

Now, before we begin, we want to say upfront that we do not know all of the answers (as if you needed to be told that)! Notice we didn’t call it the “Ryan & Alyssa Answer Questions” series because we may not have a good answer sometimes! We just want to help in any way we can. If this series helps one person, then it is worth the time and effort we put into it. We truly believe that. And if you are reading this and you have  question related to photography, business, marriage or anything else you think we might know a little bit about, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at! These will be totally anonymous so don’t worry about that! You can see more of the series here!

#1 | Where Do I Start?
#2 | Needle In A Haystack
#3 | A Natural Feel
#4 | 4 Keys To A Consistent Style
#5 | 5 Questions To Answer Before Going Full-time
#6 | 3 Ways To Light Beautiful Reception Images
#7 | 1 Simple Trick To Improve Your Images Right Now
#8 | 3 Tips To Thrive On A Double-Header Weekend

So, without further ado, we present issue numero uno in the “Ask Ryan & Alyssa” series!

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Ryan & Alyssa,

I am just getting started in photography. In fact, I feel like I really don’t have much of an idea what I’m doing yet to be honest. I thought photography might be easier than it turned out to be. There is something about photography that I just love and I want to see if I can make this more than just a hobby for me. I have had a few families pay me for family photos and I’ve shot a few 1-year-old sessions too. I want to shoot weddings someday and I wondered if you guys could help me get there. My question is simply this: Could you give me some advice to help me as I start my journey into photography?

Thank you so much!

First of all, we have been where you are. It seems like a mountain that’s impossible to climb. But it starts by taking one step at a time. And as you have already found out, it’s not easy. But nothing in life worth accomplishing will ever be easy! We heard it said, “A mountain with smooth sides can never be climbed.” And that’s so true in business. If you never run into any problems, you will never reach higher and overcome those problems!

But, as we call on the mistakes that we made and the things we did right along the way, we think we can narrow it down to 3 pieces of advice! This is certainly not exhaustive, but we would narrow it down to these:

1. Help Other People.

We start with this one because we feel like it truly is the most important thing you can do. We believe as business owners, it is our duty to make that business about serving other people. Do we need to make money? Yes. Ryan is the business mind in our business and he spends many long nights working hard on how we can make money from what we do. If we didn’t make money, then we wouldn’t be a good steward of the time and talent we have been given. We take what has been been given to us and we work super-duper hard to multiply that by helping other people! And if you can do that, you will get along just fine!

Zig Ziglar, one of the major sales and business minds of our time, has had a profound impact on our business model. Zig always said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” And though we don’t just help other people so that we will get personal gain, the principle is true. Help others with your life and you will be taken care of. So build your business on a foundation of love for others and not just on making money. We truly believe that is the most important piece of advice we can give you!

2. Establish Your Style.

This piece of advice would fall under the category heading of “things we would do differently if we could go back.” Our pride takes another hit here, because we don’t like to admit our mistakes (who does?!), but confession is good for the soul. We wish that when we had first started our business we would have established our style more quickly. To be honest, it wasn’t until late last year that we really felt like we had nailed down what we really wanted our images to look like. We went through all of the typical phases. We tried the “dramatic look” where all of our images were dark and moody. We tried the heavy vignettes and the Lightroom presets. But we ultimately decided (and here’s the key) that those styles aren’t true to who we are. We took a long hard look at what we actually loved about our images and it wasn’t the moody, dark, dramatic look. It was the images where people looked happy. It was the images where there was joy. And it was the images where there was light.

We uncovered our style the hard way. So let us help you avoid that. Establish it right at the beginning. Figure out what you like. Figure out what is true to you. That will bring you the most joy as you progress throughout your business. And what’s the best way to do that? Well, when you’re starting out, shoot everything! Anyone who will get in front of your camera, go for it! Even if you are working for free when you start, that’s ok! Shooting as much as you can will allow you to find your style more quickly. And as you establish your style, you can move on to #3!

3. Create A Brand.

If you are working hard on #1 and #2, then you are ready for this one! Creating a brand sounds so ominous. And for those who do it well, it can be a tough task. But like we said earlier, you take one step at a time. The reason we put this as #3 on the list is because if you don’t know the goals of your business and you don’t have an established style, then you won’t have any inspiration behind the design of your brand! For example, we love our images to be what call “light-filled.” So when we created our website, which is the center-piece of our marketing, we wanted it to be light-filled as well. We also know that one of the advantages of our business is that we are a husband and wife team that builds personal relationships with each of our couples. With that in mind, we actually rebranded in January to the name “Ryan & Alyssa Photography.” We used our personal names as opposed to something like “Pink Flower Photography” (although that’s just cute)  because we have such a personal touch on our couples.

We use that as an example so that you can see how important it is to do #1 and #2 before #3. Our only other advice on this topic to invest in a professional logo and website! We can’t stress this enough! Creating a powerful brand is extremely difficult when you don’t put those huge building blocks in the hands of a professional! Our good friend Greg Warner with Small Reflection designed our logo and we absolutely love it! Once you have a brand, try to stick with it so that people get used to seeing your website and logo look the same. Even when you are tired of it, most people have probably only seen it a few times!

We hope that helps! Also check our series on the lenses in our bag! If that is a help to anyone out there, we would LOVE to hear from you! And if anyone has any other questions, no matter how small, please don’t hesitate to email us your questions at!


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