Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Walsh.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Well, I would say my story is one of perfect timing. It was 1999 and I was working in a photo lab printing from film. I met a local photographer who needed some help with weddings so I happily took the job. After some time she told me to take her 35mm camera and just shoot candids of the guests. That is where the sparks started. She loved what I was giving her so she eventually started sending smaller wedding clients to me and in 2000 I shot my first wedding. I was so nervous I was grinding my teeth so bad and chipped a tooth! About a week later I handed over their proofs with my damaged smile and they were thrilled with the results. Around this time is when wedding photography started to change from “traditional/posed” to “candid/photo-journalistic” so I realized that my love of capturing people in their natural state, could actually become more than a hobby. Since that wedding, I have photographed over 300 weddings and each year I grow more and more thankful for this talent and the opportunities I am given to share it. I know without a doubt that I am doing what I was meant to do in my life.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Has it been a smooth road? Hmm, in some ways, yes! Having not gone through any type of schooling to get here, I didn’t incur any debt that some may have started out with. My particular style at the time was considered “the new thing” so, that came naturally, and so did the clients. I haven’t strayed too much from this type of work so there haven’t been too many internal struggles to “find my place” in this flooded photographer market. In other ways, it’s always tough. I rely mainly on referrals so that can fluctuate, depending on the needs at that time and how often my past clients mention me.
From one year to the next there is no guarantee how many weddings I may book but thankfully I usually stay in my happy zone around 20 weddings a year. I pride myself on getting my clients their online gallery within a week of their wedding, so I only do one wedding per weekend. As other business owners know, being self-employed is part of our personal lives as well. There are no time clocks to punch and therefore, you never truly “punch out” mentally. I think about my 18 years of business and I’m filled with a lot of pride that it’s not only survived but thrived through my life changes. From starting out meeting clients in my parent’s dining room, many address changes (in and out of state), marriage, 2 pregnancies, raising two kids and all of life’s ups and downs. It’s my constant. I am not an aggressive businesswoman at all so I’m quite pleased that I managed to grow even in the chaos. I think the only reason that has happened is that I still love what I do. Truly. I don’t drive myself nuts trying to reach a sales goal, instead, I focus on connecting with the right clients. I still leave some weddings and I’m so inspired by them. I spend time with families on one of their most important days. That means high stress, high emotion and always tons of love. It’s nothing but an honor.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
If I had to sum up my work I would say that it’s real, it’s simple and it’s beautiful. That’s a little hard for me to say. I am very uncomfortable with complementing my own work or receiving compliments. However, I know that what I do is real and I work hard at every wedding to let everything unfold naturally, reminding people to ignore me. I know that it’s simply because I don’t let clients sweat the small stuff. They’ve made all the plans so any little snag will work itself out with the help of those around them including myself if needed.
Finally, I know my work is beautiful because of the two previous elements. Love is beautiful. All love. Romantic love. Parental love. Friendship love. Leaving it alone and capturing it as it is, is beautiful. I find that having this state of mind for each wedding ends with a result I’m happy with. Clients will look at their images for years and years and come right back to the feeling they had on that day. They will remember that hug. They will remember that speech. They will remember that dance (well, at least the ones in the earlier part of the night). I never want them to think back and remember me or the time it took to capture those images. I don’t want them to remember uncomfortable unnatural poses or being interrupted. I want someone to look over an entire wedding gallery and get a strong sense of the day even if they weren’t on the guest list.
What were you like growing up?
My favorite childhood memory? Honestly, I’m not sure if I have just one. I remember my best friend Gina, Legos-and playing sick to stay home from school to build them. Barbies, sleepovers, playing outside using our imagination, Christmas morning magic, the light that would come in the living room windows, the Dutch door in the kitchen that we would play ice cream shop with, hurricane Gloria and the massive tree it took down in my yard, and the fort we created from it until it was sadly taken away.
I remember moving to a new town, new school, and new friends. I remember visits to my grandmother’s house, where there was always candy in the candy dish and crazy animals in her yard…like her pet raccoon Rocky. The shed in her backyard with the dirt floor that smelled like earth and was the coolest place to play and look for old treasures. Her big tree and the endless amount of shade it gave us. It was an awesome childhood, and I hope that my girls look back someday and can say the same thing. I aim to preserve those sentimental memories for my clients.
- Starting package $2200
- Website: www.jessicadoherty.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessicaDohertyPhotography/
Picture of Jessica taken by Michael Sparks Keegan