Be nice to people…Greet people with a smile, hold the door for someone, lend a hand to someone just getting started as a creative (we have all been there).
Griff Photography is an award-winning Chicago wedding photographer, providing unbelievable wedding and engagement photography, with a creative artistic style. He has taken years to develop a unique style that he is proud of and has been a professional wedding photographer for 8 years. He is passionate about what he does and you can see that in every one of his images.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I was freelancing as a photographer with a few large Chicagoland studios and realized that the whole process was not very personal. So, I decided to go off on my own, so I can do things my way. That’s where Griff Photography started. Without a doubt, customer service comes first for me. I want to make sure that everyone that chooses to work with me has the best possible experience there could be and I am always working on improving my process.
One reason that I became a photographer in the first place is that I get to interact with so many interesting and passionate people and to this day, that is my favorite part about my job. It’s a bonus that I get to make some killer images for them.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am usually an early riser, even on the weekends. Normally, I am up around 6:00, I brush my teeth (I have a thing about morning breath), I let out the dogs, slam a glass of water when they are running around the backyard, and then when they come in, I feed them. Then, depending on the day, I will answer emails and see what projects that I have on my plate for the day.
Some days are easier than others to stay productive, but I find if I move around throughout the day, I find that I am more mentally focused, and I accomplish more things in the day. That’s why on lunch every day, I usually go for a walk or if the day is crappy, I stand up for a while.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love trying out new ideas and one way that I do is to write down every idea that I think of no matter how insignificant that I feel it is. When I write things down, I tend to put them in my memory easier so when the time comes where I can try one out, I am ready to go. These ideas come from anything and everything. Whether I get inspired from seeing other people’s work or an interesting ray of light that adds an interesting warm glow to an image, I take note of that.
Then, when I am out on a shoot, and I see a similar quality of light, I will know exactly what I wanted to try. Most of the time, since I am “marinating” in these ideas for a while, I can get pretty close first try which is always exciting. That is one of the coolest feelings, seeing something in your mind and then making it happen.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I try not to get on board with too many trends just because I don’t feel like the ever last. One that has caught my eye lately is lifestyle engagement photography. I always tended to do my engagement styles in more of a lifestyle way anyways but lately I have been seeing more and more in people’s homes or somewhere that they visit more often like coffee shops and I think it’s really cool.
The couples are usually cooking in the kitchen or relaxing on their couch and if done right feels so natural and candid. This is one trend that I adapted a bit to fit my style.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love being active and actually doing something with my time and it really helps me out a lot with my business because I am always trying to push what I do and improve my skills. I am not really big on laying on the couch, so you can usually find me at the computer updating my website, editing photos, or grading some footage. I want to be the best at what I do and I am willing to work to get there.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Without a doubt that I am good enough now. When I was younger, I always felt that I needed to be better before I started my own business or that I needed that new camera body so I can shoot like the pros. Looking back, I had what it took to become a professional for a long time and it wasn’t until my brother gave me a nudge and verbal lip smack that I actually convinced myself that I actually was at the caliber that I needed to be.
Would a younger me listen to an older me? Haha, I would say most likely not but looking back, that is where I lost the most time. I have always benefited when I just said yes to an opportunity or when I would just create an opportunity when one wasn’t presented to me. A lot of the times people and in life in general has the mindset of when they see someone successful that they don’t deserve it. I absolutely hate this kind of thinking. No one knows how hard that person worked for what they have and no one knows what it took for that person to get to where they are. You just have to be concerned with what YOU are doing and forget about all of the competitors and all of the haters. And oh man are there going to be haters.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Completely nothing to do with the creative field but Kale is one of the most tasty vegetables out there. I have loved Kale FOREVER and I am not embarrassed to say it! It’s not only great tasting but incredibly good for you! Don’t get me started on plants or nutrition!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be nice to people. This isn’t only as an entrepreneur but a human being. Greet people with a smile, hold the door for someone, lend a hand to someone just getting started as a creative (we have all been there). And don’t look to get anything out of being nice, you are treating people with respect and that should be enough. But it does translate to people not thinking that you’re a jerk and increases the chances of reaching out to you if they need a photographer or something designed because you’re not an asshole haha. Treat people how you would want to be treated!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Post your work to as many places as you can. I would say that my website and Instagram are the two places that I focus on the most but if someone is willing to display your work, I always say yes even if it costs me a little bit to print. One thing I do shy away from is when someone is charging you to display your work. I don’t have time for that and I don’t even consider that being part of my budget.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Hahahah, it would have to be my first business card. For the most part, the main part of my work is weddings and engagements. People are trusting me with documenting one of the most important days of their lives and they want a professional who knows what he or she is doing to show up. Well, when I was designing my first set of business cards, I had the brilliant idea of printing an image millipede on one side of my card because I thought, “it would grab a brides attention.” I would have to say that I did not book a single wedding after handing out that card.
But stuff like that is going to happen, you look at decisions that you made and have no clue why you thought it was a good idea. At least it makes for some funny stories most of the time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Photobooths are big at weddings but why not photobooths that do videos? At the end of the night, provide the couple with an edited video with everyone goofing off in front of the camera where they are able to record audio as well. Could be a fun idea.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It would definitely be my gallery site. I use Pic Time and it has given me the ability to deliver photo projects online in a clean and simple way. It not only makes my work more organized and presented in more of a clean way but it is always a lot faster than sending out a USB. It also cannot be lost in the mail which has saved me so many headaches.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Hootsuite to schedule and post Instagram posts. I will sit down for an hour and schedule the week with posts just so I can apply myself to other projects throughout the week. This has helped me out tremendously because it keeps me off of my phone which I am on to much as it is already.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Alchemist because it really puts your life into perspective. It’s about a boy that wants to leave his town because he wants to live somewhere that he cares about and do something that he is passionate about. I am not going to ruin the ending for you but it really makes you sit and think on whether you are doing the best thing for you and if you are on your right path.
What is your favorite quote?
“The reason that you’re not successful is probably that you aren’t working hard enough.” David Burnette
• You are good enough now
• Treat people how you would like to be treated
• Don’t put a picture of a bug on your business card
• You’re probably not working hard enough
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.