When reading through Heidi Ryder’s interview, you can tell she really loves what she does and her pictures speak for themselves – she is a talented photographer. I also love her positivity and enthusiasm, which shines through when you talk with her, even over email and Twitter. Even with the rough economy, Heidi has managed to meet and exceed her goals so far this year, and I can tell with her attitude and talent she is going to have a great rest of the year and future!
Hometown: all over Southern California
Current Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Education: Bachelor’s of Arts in Print Journalism from California State University at Fullerton
Professional Background: Worked as a writer and copy editor for a newswire service before venturing into the world of professional photography.
What you wanted to be when you grew up: A music journalist for Rolling Stone magazine.
What you are: A wedding photographer.
Brief Summary of your Start Up: Armed with a camera and my creative take on the world, I capture a very important day in people’s lives.
What inspired you? Other wedding photographers! I always had a love for photography but thought the only way to make a living at it was by spending years at a photography school and shooting fashion or commercial work. That didn’t seem very approachable to me. I had no idea wedding photography could be so creative and artistic until I started looking for a photographer for my own wedding and found wedding photographers who were throwing cliché poses and cheesy processing styles out the window and creating images from people’s wedding that looked like they were taken straight out of magazines. I was hooked instantly and knew that’s what I wanted to be doing.
How long have you been in business? This is my wedding studio’s first full wedding season.
How did you fund it? My business was completely funded by myself, with a little help from my parents and my husband’s income after we were married. I didn’t use a credit card or take out any loans. I approached this venture cautiously because I could not afford not to. I saved slowly, purchased the most important equipment when I could afford it, and rented the things I did not yet own when I needed them for shoots. I have spent zero dollars on advertising because in this business word of mouth is what counts, so I’m letting my reputation and my images do all the selling. When it came to branding my business, I got creative with the resources available to me and bartered a deal with a graphic designer friend of mine- she designed my logo, website and other branding elements and in turn I am taking the photos for her new letterpress business.
Do you have a Fairy Godmother (or Mentor)? There are a handful of wonderful wedding photographers who I have met over the past year who have offered advice, encouragement and even helped kick start my season by referring clients to me when they were already booked.
Do you belong to any Business Organization or Networking Groups? Yes! I belong to a social networking group for photographers called The [b] School (www.thebschool.com). It was started by a very successful wedding photographer, Becker, who wanted an easy way for photographers to connect so they can teach, encourage and guide one another through this crazy business. It’s where I’ve met most of my peers and has been an amazing business and networking tool for me. Aside from that, Twitter has gotten me jobs and helped me meet other wedding vendors!
Current Business Challenge? It’s the same as it is for most everyone else these days: the weakening economy.
What are you doing about it? I am staying focused. I give my current and prospective clients the attention they deserve and hope that hard work pays off in the form of referrals. Also, I think people panic and begin to devalue themselves and their product my slashing prices. I refuse to do this, which I think will help keep me in this business for the long run.
Favorite motivational quote: “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart
Family? My family consists of my wonderfully supportive husband, Chris, and our curmudgeon of a dog, Frasier.
If so, how do you balance family and business?
That’s something I’m still working on. I’m an over-achiever by nature which has turned me into a bit of a workaholic. Because my studio is home-based it is far too easy for me to spend every waking moment working. My husband has even had to ask more than once when he would get his wife back. That is not okay. So, I have been trying to force myself to take breaks – even when I have work piling up. It’s not an easy thing for me to do, but I don’t want to miss these precious years when it’s just my husband and me. Also, I know I’d better get used to the fact that once we have kids, all bets are off and it’s not MY schedule that matters anymore!
Favorite book? Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. His ability to poke fun at himself and his friends and family while making them all seem absolutely endearing is so great. I love curling up to a good book and laughing until my sides hurt.
What do you do to relax? My husband will tell you I don’t relax. But, every once in a while I will put everything aside and just lounge on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and some terrible reality television. That’s my idea of a good time – love me or hate me for it!
What do you want to change most about your world? My world is pretty great the way it is, but ideally my goal is to grow my business to a comfortable size and outsource my editing and album design processes so I can focus on my family, my clients, my photography and myself. So, in short, more time for my husband and my trashy television.
What are you most proud of?
Taking this leap in the first place! I am not a risk taker. I am a planner to a fault. I was very scared to take the plunge and begin this business because I didn’t know if I could handle failing at it. I’m so glad I faced my fear because it feels wonderful to have a job that fulfills me artistically and emotionally. And even if I do fail, it’s ok. I’d rather fail at something I love than be successful at something I hate.
What advice would you like to offer other Start Up Princesses?
Make sure your start up enables you to do what you love. Being your own boss is only a fantastic thing if you can truly see yourself doing what you do day-in and day-out.
Favorite Magic Wand (tool/resource)? My blog. I use it to showcase my work and market myself. It allows my potential clients to get to know me a little even before we’ve met. In my business it is really important that you click with your clients since you’ll be spending a very important day with them. My blog is also a great tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so I get higher ranks on Google searches, which enables potential clients to find me quite easily!
If you could design a tiara, what precious stones would you use? Peridot. Love the color.
Would you be interested in being a Fairy Godmother and writing articles or speaking at Startup Princess events?
What business subjects would you feel comfortable mentoring in?
Attracting the clients that are right for you and Marketing Tools that Won’t Cost you a Dime.