I started my business more than 10 years ago when my cousin asked me photograph his wedding. Dave + Val celebrated their 10th anniversary in October -- so happy for them! I had previously worked for another photographer (not in a wedding capacity really, though) for 2 years, and sort of knew my way around a camera. I was honestly probably more prepared for the business aspect of photography than the actual photography itself. And while there are MANY facets to running a photography business, taking the pictures should be the most important!! Anyway, I made it through that wedding, and managed to take some decent photos with my modest equipment. The month prior to the wedding, I bought my first personal DSLR, a Nikon D200, which was a great camera in its own right when it came out, but would definitely be a dinosaur to be now. It wasn’t great in low light, for starters, and many of the images were somewhat grainy even at a low ISO. I had a couple of lenses — a kit lens and an 80-200mm f2.8 lens, which served me well for MANY years and in fact I just sold it this past December and upgraded to the 70-200mm f2.8. Since then I have bought and sold a few different camera bodies and lenses, and now own 3 bodies and 5 lenses plus tons of other equipment for lighting, backdrops, accessories, etc.
I can't believe I'm going to do this, but here's a side-by-side depiction of my work 10+ years ago versus my current style of work. It's crazy to see how my technical knowledge and style have changed so much. The photo on the left was photographed in full sun with terrible backlight, at 1/800 f18 and was UNEDITED. Yikes! I don't remember the last time I photographed anything over f5.6!! The photo on the right was at 1/160 f2.5, and I obviously have learned so much more about lighting, editing, color correction, camera control, posing and so much more! That wedding was before my blogging days, but about a year later in the fall of 2007 was when I first blogged any weddings or sessions. I can't believe I've been blogging for NINE YEARS!!
At this point in time, I am pretty happy with my arsenal of lenses, and the only thing I might consider adding or upgrading might be an extra wide angle lens (the widest I have is 24mm), or a new macro lens (my current is a 60mm f2.8 — I’d love something in the 100mm range).
I’ve definitely picked up more technical photography skills along the way too. I’ve taught myself a ton about off-camera flash (and learned from classes and tutorials too), played a bit with the Brenizer method, developed my own Lightroom presets, and moved to digital backups and galleries/downloads for clients. I jumped early on into the blogging bandwagon and learned the importance of SEO and Google marketing. I try to stay active on social media too, and have adopted some of the new platforms that seem to come along every year. Instagram has been great for my business, and I’m slowly starting to incorporate Snapchat as well.
Speaking of technology, there’s a cool new camera technology from Light on the market that might revolutionize the consumer (and professional?) camera industry. It’s called the L16, and it’s combines varying focal length images to create one image that emulates that of a DSLR. The great thing about it though is that it’s the size of a point-and-shoot camera and shaped more like a cell phone. I can see this being a fantastic tool for travel enthusiasts with its complexity, picture quality, and compact design.
If you're looking to start your own business, you should check out this article from ShootDotEdit with a guide to starting a photography business. It's very thorough, and will help you get a good grasp on what needs to happen to thrive and survive as a professional photographer.