Too often in our society, people picture men in their heads when they hear words like, “boss”, “entrepreneur”, or “CEO”. Being a small business owner has put me in touch with so many successful female business owners and entrepreneurs that when I hear these words, I often picture a woman or I just don’t assume anything at all. Women are obviously just as capable as men when it comes to the business world and it is high time that women business owners and entrepreneurs are more visible in the media in our society. This is where the idea for Women in Business was born. Women in Business is a monthly feature that highlights female entrepreneurs and business owners. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to learn more about small businesses in various fields, but it is a great shopping guide for supporting small businesses.
An Interview with Maddy from Mad Hearts Photography
Tell us a little bit about your business. When did you officially start your business? What exactly do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I started my photography business in 2010, but I was taking pictures way before then. My dad was an avid hobbyist and he spoiled me with camera gear from a very early age. I’m so grateful that he encouraged and nurtured that love of photography in me, though I never imagined in a million years that I would eventually be making a living off of it! Like most small businesses, my first clients were my friends and family. Once I felt comfortable enough to start charging for my services, I made it official with the state of New Jersey and created a website…yay! I started promoting my business and services via social media. That, along with positive word of mouth, has helped my business grow to where it is today.
What is your favorite thing about owning your own business?
My favorite thing is probably the most challenging: being my own boss. It’s great because I have 100% say in the direction the business takes and how it operates, but I’m also responsible for everything that comes along with owning a business: both the good and bad.
What challenges come with being a photographer?
There are a gazillion of us out there! And every day there’s more and more of us coming into the industry. So I think one of the biggest obstacles to being a photographer is finding your voice in order to set yourself apart from the pack.
How would you describe your photographic voice?
If I had to describe my work to others, I’d say it’s fresh, clean and classic. I also love capturing connection – whether it’s connection with another person (as in spouses, families, couples) or connection with the camera (individual portraits). I’m not huge on props, editing trends and other gimmicks. My goal is to create portraits that will stand the test of time.
What was the best piece of advice you were given pertaining to your business?
Money can buy you lots of things, but the one thing it cannot buy is time. So learn to value your time, first and foremost, and use it wisely.
What changes have you seen in your work since you first stepped behind the camera?
Wow…too many to list here! My editing style and shooting style have changed dramatically since the beginning. Before I used to rely on post processing a lot, now I really try to get it as perfect as possible in camera, so that editing is a breeze. I also don’t spend as much time finding amazing locations and instead focus my energies on finding beautiful light and natural reflectors. I have also slowed down when it comes to shooting. Shooting quality vs. quantity. If the light is perfect in one location, I rather stay there and exhaust all my posing options. One thing still remains: I love my images to pop! But now, I rely on shooting techniques that will help me achieve that pop in my portraits in camera and not the contrast/saturation/sharpen sliders in Photoshop.
Do you have a favorite memory from being behind the camera?
My favorite memory behind the lens was probably photographing my parents last year! I always end up having a blast during sessions, but being able to share that experience with my parents was something truly special. They left with a greater appreciation of what I do and I got to witness their love in a whole new light. A month after our session, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and his health has quickly deteriorated since then. It’s hard to imagine that it’s only been a year since that session, but I will forever treasure the memories (and pictures!) we made that day.
What/who inspires you and your work?
I find inspiration in all sorts of genres, even the ones I don’t shoot myself. Lately, I’ve been finding inspiration in fashion magazines and catalogs. Whenever I’m standing in line at the grocery store, I’m examining the magazine covers to see how the models were posed and the lighting that was used. As for who’s inspiring me these days, photographers like Ben Sasso, Shoda Love, Sue Bryce, Michelle Moore, Katelyn James are a few names in the photography world I look up to. They all have very different styles, but the one thing they have in common is consistency. You can always count on them to produce top notch work no matter who’s in front of their lens!
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to enter the field of photography?
I could write an entire book on this topic alone! There are so many things I wish someone told me when I started. For starters, invest in yourself. By that I mean, education! There are all sorts of camera gear and photography products and even workshop/classes out that promise to be the magic fix. Don’t buy into those claims. The only way to become a better photographer is to do your research and practice, practice, practice! As for the business side of things: specialize. It’ll make branding and marketing yourself so much easier and it’s a great way to stand out from the pack. I started my business shooting all kinds of sessions and now that I’m trying to specialize in glamour/wedding photography exclusively, it’s so much harder to do! I’ve built such a strong client base of families I’ve photographed over the years that it feels terrible turning them away this late in the game.
How do you define success as a business owner?
Success to me means having a healthy work/life balance. It’s being able to do the thing you love, pay the bills and still have time leftover to enjoy life. I’m not going to lie, in the beginning – it’s hard! There’s a lot of sweat equity that goes into starting your own business, but the rewards make this journey worthwhile!