Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding & portrait photographer serving DC, VA & Worldwide. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!
Manali Photography is a wedding & couples' photography business based out of Washington D.C. and Charlottesville, VA. When she's not making couples laugh or editing for the fastest turnaround time you ever did see, you might find her with family & friends at a vineyard with cheese & rosé to share! Cheers!!
I decided to do a mini series of how I got started with photography on the blog and my journey to becoming a full time wedding and portrait photographer! If you missed Part One about how I first got started in photography & weddings, go read that one first and come back!
Facing the Fear
From there, I invested everything I had made with photography so far, bought a new lens and started doing portraits around Grounds, nothing super fancy. I remember being SO nervous to FINALLY start a Facebook page for my photography, create a website up on Squarespace and start blogging the portraits that I took. The blogging part took a LOT of coaxing from my brother actually. “Is there a new blog post up yet?” would become something he would ask me on a weekly basis. As an introvert, at no point along the journey has posting about photography online been easy for me. Actually to this day, after YEARS of this, I still have to fight the fear and JUST DO IT. This goes for a lot of different aspects of the job but I’ve learned how to speak up (kindly) when I need to and not to be afraid to help move things along especially during events & wedding days!
Growing up, I was an introvert 100% of the way. Throwing myself into new situations, having to make small talk and take strangers’ photos, posing people while photographing them, traveling to new places, none of this was easy to me. If it weren’t for my love of photography, I’d avoid it like that plague but photography has always kept me pushing past that fear. I’ve had my car towed while I was out on a shoot, a really bad experience with another photographer, gotten hit by a car on the way back from second shooting a wedding (everything was ok!!), had to back up a mountain in a stick shift car, felt stranded while driving back from a wedding because there was no service and I didn’t exactly know where to drive and a ton of other tiny obstacles that could have stopped me from going out and doing it again. These are not the worst situations, I could have been thrown in a lot worse I know, but if you take things as “signs from the universe” not to do something again, I’ve had my fair share along the way. But if you love something enough to keep doing it, hold onto that thing and pursue it, because it’s clearly special!
So the summer after my junior year of college, I started second shooting a ton of weddings with other photographers. I think I second shot anywhere from 10-15 throughout that year and even travelled back home from UVA just to do so. I refused to take any of my own until I felt 100% ready to do so because it’s someone’s WEDDING day and you don’t get a redo on that. This gave me the chance to see what it was really like as a wedding photographer, how other photographers’ ran their businesses and handled wedding days and whether this was something that I really wanted to go after the reality of and not just the dream of. While it is amazing that you get to work with people on the happiest days of their lives, the details at weddings are all insanely gorgeous and there’s the perk of working from home, it’s also a lot of hard work behind the scenes! For one, you’re driving 1-2 hours to a wedding, carrying pounds of heavy gear/equipment on your feet for 8+ hours a day, giving up Saturdays with loved ones to work (weddings make it worth it!), spend hours behind a screen editing during the week, hours behind the screen running the other parts of the business (photographing is like 20% MAX what we do!), need to know how to keep a wedding day moving (not always easy when you have some inebriated peeps), hours of the week networking and meeting with clients, deal with different personalities on the wedding day and any emergencies that come up! I’m missing a TON of other things, but you get the idea. It is nowhere near as glamorous as it may seem, I assure you. BUT, it IS worth it!!
Tips for Building Momentum
1. As blunt as this sounds, no one will take you seriously until you take yourself seriously!! I wish I had more confidence in my capabilities years ago to let people know that I did photography! People won’t know it unless you say it and this has been so huge in spreading word of mouth this year!
Blog your work and post on social media! Even when your only readers are your brother and your mom. Just do it. And keep blogging consistently because the readers will come! Also, people debate whether or not blogs are dead but I’ve had so many people come up to me personally and tell me they read it. And this is people that I would NEVER expect to read this thing! Sooo there’s your motivation to do it even when it feels like no one is even reading 🙂 Also, if you start one, let me know because I’ll be your most avid reader!
Photograph often! This should make sense since you can only really share work that you’ve shot! This gives you time to PRACTICE (if you didn’t see this in part one, go back to that!) and get used to different lighting situations. It’ll also help you build up a solid portfolio and give you exposure to different kinds of photography so you can find your niche!
I feel like this one might not be as obvious as the others, but run your business personally! As an introvert, it’s so much easier for me to photograph people that I feel like are friends instead of just clients. And vice versa, I think it’s a lot less nerve wracking for you to have your pictures taken by someone who feels like a friend rather than just a professional with a camera. Also, being true to yourself while dealing with your clients attracts the kind of people that are not only going to love your work but also rave about you to their friends!
Here’s the whole rest of the series to binge read!