Because Photography is a Lifestyle
Michelle was our wedding photographer 7 years ago and I've been keeping an eye on her journey. She has this magical way of making you feel comfortable and capturing moments even when you're not entirely aware.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Michelle Lategan, and I am a full time lifestyle, wedding and event photographer based in Durbanville.
How old is your business now?
I started doing paid shoots in 2010, but officially registered by business in 2015.
How did you come up with the idea of and name for your business?
My business’ registered name is Photos by Mich, but I trade as Michelle Lategan Photography.
What makes your business unique?
My clients are not just a number or just another photoshoot. I build very strong relationships with all my clients, and I grow with them. I have many clients whom I have photographed from engagement shoot, wedding, maternity, newborn… right up to their kids’ birthday parties… Getting to know my clients in this way is very important to me!
Are you a solo-entrepreneur or how many members does your team currently comprise?
I am the only full time employee of my business but I have two other ladies who help me with different areas of my business (my financial manager & an assistant shooter).
How do you market your business, and which methods have been most successful for you?
I use my website, Facebook & Instagram. However, word of mouth has been the biggest driver of business for me. In terms of the social media platforms – Facebook drives more business, but Instagram definitely gets the engagement.
What does a typical day look like for you? And how many hours, on average, do you work daily?
Hmm… this is a tough one because it depends on whether it’s a shoot day or not. Wedding shoot days are crazy, could be up to 12 hours of shooting and easily two hours on the road. I generally try to take Mondays off completely, if possible, as weekends are usually very full with shoots, so Mondays are essentially my weekend. In season, I spend about 6-8 hours a day editing, about 1.5 hours planning website blog posts, my Instagram posts and also responding to clients and doing other admin. (I also have two young kids and a partner, so I have to be present in my personal life too)!
How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?
Last year I shot an amazing event on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and I shoot on my birthday almost every year – so be prepared for lots of personal sacrifice.
Also, I am very meticulous about planning and budgeting, and as an entrepreneur you have to be, as the industry can change overnight – Covid19 is a perfect example of that. It hit the wedding photography industry hard. But I have been blessed in that I have been able to start shooting other shoots again since level 4.
If you could go back in time and start up your business all over again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, nothing, except maybe leaving my corporate job sooner. I have learnt so much from every mistake I have made, and I have achieved so much in only 10 years, so I am very happy with how far I have come, and wouldn’t change it for the world.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to someone just starting out?
Allow yourself to actually “start.” I often see young people, with an entry level camera, taking bookings for major events like weddings and charging crazy rates with only a month or two experience. That is very dangerous. Having a camera and a Facebook page doesn’t make you a professional overnight. Give yourself time to learn, to grow and gain experience. I’d say reach out to people who have been in the industry for years – I for one am always willing to help new photographers. Never stop learning!
Another thing is, if you are serious about your photography - run your business properly. Register your business, keep your business bank account separate to your personal one, get all the necessary insurance and make sure you remain compliant and keep your business affairs in good standing.
Where can we find your business on social media?
Facebook page link: www.facebook.com/michellelateganphotography
Instagram handle: @michellelateganphotography
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