This post is truly, honestly, ridiculously overdue. Savannah actually took these pictures two and a half years ago, and while I lovvvved looking at them and seeing her ‘styled shoot’ blog post, I had weird feelings about sharing them myself. I have no qualms about sharing photos of me WITH other people, but posting a photo shoot that’s literally just me felt…I don’t know. Awkward. But I finally decided to share them, because I want to introduce a new segment on the blog: Small Biz Spotlight! It’s not something I’ll do every month or anything. But as a small business owner myself, I know the struggles associated with running your own shenanigans, especially when it comes to marketing and building rapport. And I want to do whatever I can to be an advocate for other people like me.
Savannah Bidwell is the (gorgeous!) face behind Savannah Ashley Photography. I got connected with her through her husband, Andrew, who I met at a high school summer camp almost a decade ago. Before this shoot, Savannah and I had been social media friends for years but never actually met in person. When we finally met each other, she fully exceeded my expectations, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that she is one of the friendliest, funniest, most endearing people I’ve ever met! I had wanted to be friends with her for such a long time, and I had a blast participating in her styled shoot, even though it was January and insanely cold (literally the wind chill was like -14 degrees). When I decided to start this new series, I knew she’d be the perfect person to start with. Thanks for letting me interview you, Savannah!
Embracing the Chaos: So what was it that made you decide to become a photographer?
Savannah: “I always did want to be a photographer but I’m also a very practical person (little known fact) and I didn’t think it was practical or really possible to make a living that way. It didn’t dawn on me until after college that weddings were a totally valid option.”
ETC: What training/resources/etc. did you use to get started?
S: “What didn’t I use when I got started is really the question. I had a fair amount of shooting skill earlier on because I had picked it up in the past, but it was very basic. I started off making sure I understood my little starter camera through and through. I read all the manuals associated with it and YouYubed its features and practiced with it as much as I could. There is a resource called Creative Live, which airs all sorts of creative related educational live-stream videos, and I watched everything that I could that was relevant to me. I started with basics and fundamentals of shooting and lighting, and then moved on to working with people and posing, and then moved on to whole 30-day wedding photography classes, which threw in a lot of business information too (which was like drinking out of a fire hose). But I still learned a lot. Facebook was also super important and pretty much why I’m ALWAYS ON IT. I’m in DOZENS of photography-specific groups where people just talk shop and by absorbing that information, I actually learned a LOT of practical hands-on material. I messed around taking more and more self portraits, and before I knew it, other photographers saw them and asked if I could accompany them on their weddings as an assistant/second shooter. That’s where I learned the most and made a lot of connections.”
ETC: Work-wise, do you consider your business a full-time or part-time gig?
S: “Business was a weird, slow, dip-your-toe-in start for me in Washington State. Just as I had started to get it going, I got sick, and then we moved not terribly long after that so it was a weird year and a weird start. I like to say it became more official when we moved to North Carolina over a year ago. It’s pretty full-time now, but it started off last year more as a part-time thing. Now I take on my own weddings and elopements, allow other photographers to contract me out for assisting when I can, and I also do outsourcing work for other photographers as well (which is just when they send me their unedited wedding work and I process/edit it for them). And I occasionally freelance for local publications, or do e-commerce shooting for retail businesses.”
ETC: Where does your inspiration come from as an artist?
S: “Literally everything. I have a hard time focusing because I’m constantly inspired by upwards of 90% of what I’m seeing.”
ETC: What do you enjoy most about working as a photographer?
S: “SO MANY THINGS. I like being my own boss, which is great sometimes and really stressful other times, but ultimately I like to make the rules. I’m a functional introvert, which means I like to be left alone most of the time but I can totally fake being extroverted when I need to. So I get to be outgoing on wedding days and call all the shots and manage people BUT after that, I can retreat for a week and work at my computer with my cats. My life with my husband is a little different, so the fact that I can take work with me is really important and necessary for our weird lifestyle. Creative problem-solving is my jam, which is pretty much what wedding photography is. And I really, really love people. I love getting to be a part of other people’s lives and telling their story visually. I love giving people something beautiful and tangible to remember their wedding day by. And wedding food. Duh.”
ETC: What are the top 3 things you would tell an aspiring professional photographer?
S: “Join all the photography groups and soak up the information. Ask all of the questions. YouTube is your best friend. You don’t need to go to school for this, but if you do, skip the photography part (you can learn that all on the internet and with practice) and get a business degree.”
ETC: And finally, most importantly….pancakes or waffles?
S: “Waffles. But I’d actually rather just have crepes.”
And now that you’ve heard a little about her, here’s a look at her work!!
You can see lots more of her talented goodness over on her website. Thanks again, Savannah, for being part of my new series! ♥