Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Jason & Allison Domingues - A Photographer's Life Interview Series

Photographer's Life Interview Series features photographers who have been working as a professional photographer for five or more years.  We are so grateful that these photographers are willing to share an intimate and candid look at their life behind the camera. ===========

Let me introduce:  Jason & Allison Domingues, of Jason Domingues Photography - & Kansas City, MO Wedding & Music Photography since 2004

Jason & Allison DominguesJason & Allison Domingues

Creative Family Photo

Here's a sneak peek of their wedding website: 
Website Screencapture

Share some of your recent favorite images:

How did you learn the craft of photography?
My Dad handed me his dad’s camera when I was 14.  It was a Yashica TL-Electro.  I read a few books (yes I studied the camera before Al Gore invented the internet) and went through many rolls of film.  I shot through high school and a little in the Army. 

How did you learn the business of photography?
I am still learning it, Allison (My amazing wife) has handled that yucky stuff from the beginning.  It seems to change every year.  Learning from colleagues and friends in the industry. 

Do you work from home, a studio, or something else?
I work from the studio and Allison works from home.  

Can you share photos of your workspace?

Do you have regular employees, associates, or other people who help you in your business?  If so, share a little about their role(s) in your business.  Well funny you asked.  We are bringing on an associate shooter this year.  We have had photographers shoot for us in the past but this is the first time we are branding the associate shooter.  He will be responsible for his own work and edits.  He will be just shooting under our name. 

What do you outsource, and who do you outsource it to?  As of now we do not out source anything.  I know I know, we should be.  We are working on that very thing as we speak.

How many weekly hours would you say is spent working in your photography business?  It changes from month to month.  I would say in season, April thru November,  6 days a week with some days at 12 plus hours; off season, December thru March, I would say 3-4 days a week.

What percentage of your business working time is spent shooting vs. working behind the scenes?
Shooting 15-20% 

How did your last five clients find you and what did they hire you for?
Google and Referrals.  We have a pretty kickass SEO program we have put in place and it seems to be driving a lot of new clients.  They hired us for weddings and music promos.

What do you consider to be your most effective marketing efforts for your business?
SEO and Networking.  We tried the paid advertising thing and it was like throwing money out the window.  I do think they work for newer photographers trying to get their name out there. 

What other careers or jobs did you have before (or while) you started your photography business?
Jason: I was in the Army for 3 years.  I worked for wood working company that designed Kitchen cabinets and fireplaces.  I also worked for Pella Windows.

How do you spend your time when you aren't working?  
Messing with my kids heads.  I am starting a new business (can't say yet) but if you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you can figure it out. ;)  (Anne's Hint: it involves leather and buckles!)

What hobbies or interests outside of photography are fulfilling for you?
Music…Anything that has to do with music I am game for.
Traveling…This is something Allison and I are trying do more of together.  It seems like I travel a lot for work and I am trying to do it more with the family.

Do you feel like you have a good balance between your personal and working life?  
I think I can say yes (although it is off-season). I have been trying to be home by no later then 5pm.  Spending more time with the family with the phone away and the laptop up.  I know I am not perfect at that but I am trying.

Who else is in your household with you?
Allison (my lovely wife), Avery and Calen (My little humans), Riley – dog, and Lilly - Cat.

What percentage of your household income is derived from your photography business?

What have been the most challenging personal aspects of being a creative small business owner?
When the game changes and we have to figure out how to play the new game.

What do you love about being a creative small business?
It is all ours- we decide.

Where do you focus your business investments? Equipment, marketing, website, education...
All 4 in some sort of way.  Equipment and education is the top then Filtered to the others.  

  • Equipment - I do not buy brand new.  I really like refurbished camera and lenses. 
  • Education - I really invest in this the most.  I keep learning no matter how long I have been doing this.I try to attend 3-4 conferences/workshops a year.  
  • Website - This is where I focus a lot on.  SEO and online presents is big for me. That is the first thing our clients see of us.
  • Marketing - This is probably the biggest thing I work  on.  I do not pay for advertisement but that doesn't mean I don't advertise.  We focus on blogs and getting published.  I meet with local photographers in my home town to network.  My biggest secret is after the wedding we post our weddings within the week of that wedding. That helps me get "vendor cards" (secret) out to vendors the week of the wedding. 
What was your most valuable piece of equipment when you were starting out?
I fell into the trap of "I need this and I need that". My wedding/concert gear consists of (2) bodies one with a 35mm lens and one with an 85mm lens and (1) 580 flash that's it.  I do have an "oh shit" bag that has what I need to finish a job in case my equipment fails or gets stolen.

What do you think has grown your business the most? Word of mouth, talent, marketing, workshops, community of other photographers. 

What do you do to continue to grow as a photographer and business?

Know when to change direction.  Know when to adapt to the new way of weddings.  I have seen really really good photographers fail because they didn't know how to play the game.  Do not change your style but how the game is played.  Do not think that your photography alone with get you where you need to be.  It is much more then that.  Focus on the business side the most.

If you could share any advice with a photographer getting ready to start their business today, what woud it be?
If this is your passion then go for it.  Do not let anyone tell you you cannot do this.  I have to put the big “BUT” into it.  Know your limits.  If you need help ask for it or go and learn from someone that has been through it.  Do not do this if you think you will be one of the cool kids because you will fail. 

Additional questions for Jason?  Leave a comment below!  Want to keep up with Jason elsewhere online?
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Want to recommend another photographer we should interview?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

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