Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Van Vlear.
Amy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I didn’t always know I was going to be a photographer, but I guess looking back there were always little hints along the way- being SO excited in kindergarten when I got to take a polaroid photo, bringing a disposable film camera to summer camp every year growing up, using my little point-and-shoot digital camera at EVERY event in high school. Eventually, my mom bought a Canon DSLR, and I took it with me to college where I did countless photoshoots with my friends and posted the photos to a little blog.
All this time, I was a growing fine artist and I thought I would end up being a graphic designer for a marketing firm (you know, the kind of artist that makes money). But one day in my sophomore year, someone asked me to photograph their wedding, so I did. And… it wasn’t terrible. I wasn’t even nervous. It felt natural to me. Actually, I LOVED it. That was almost eight years ago and it resulted in me photographing dozens of friend’s weddings and, eventually, STRANGER’S weddings (that’s when you know you’ve made it as a business owner, haha).
People asked me how I picked up the skill of photography so quickly but the truth is that I have been drawing, painting, learning about shape and composition and light and contrast, and just straight up CREATING stuff since I was a little girl, and all these things have lead up to this point. I’m still learning how to make better art, how to edit photos more beautifully, and how to interact with my couples to elicit meaningful emotion worth capturing. I’m DEFINITELY still learning how to manage the business end of what I do (fine artist at heart over here y’all). But I love it! I love the journey, I love documenting peoples’ life adventures, and I love that every day of work brings new experiences.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
From the outside, especially on Instagram, being a small business owner (and a wedding photographer) looks so glamorous. But Let. Me. Tell. You. All the weekends I have to turn down social life because I have photoshoots, all the 3AMs trying to push out galleries, all the times I WISH I could call in sick but that’s unthinkable, all of the rejection from potential clients who decided to “go a different route,” all the weeks without work, wondering if the income is finally drying out. Don’t let anyone fool you- IT’S HARD. The only way I’ve been able to stick with it is because of the support of my husband and those close to me, and because photography is such a flame inside me that brings so much joy and fulfillment.
My advice to gals starting out their own business is to, first of all, find something that lights a fire inside of you that will keep you going during the times that owning a business SUCKS. Second, find other women that you look up to who also own businesses. Third, never stop learning and gaining skills. Especially if you’re an artist- don’t let your work get stagnate. Lastly, once you’ve been in the game for a while, know that you have authority in your field as a professional and that your opinions are legitimate. No more apologizing for your prices- what you have to offer is worth it! No more speaking timidly when you have the knowledge and the years of experience to back it up.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I mostly photograph weddings, both in Southern California and abroad- wherever couples want me! I also shoot portraits, families, brands, anyone who’s down to have an artistic approach to their photos. I would say my style is vibrant, modern, and funky. One thing that sets my photo business apart from others is my attention to detail in all my photos- to me, all the moments of a couple’s wedding day are important and deserve to be documented beautifully, so every photo is carefully and deliberately edited to be a little work of art. One of my favorite things is seeing my photos printed and framed on the walls in my clients’ homes! It’s an honor to document such important yet fleeting moments and it brings me so much joy to see people experience them over again through the photos I take.
Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
I touched on this earlier, but my advice is to remember that your perspective is unique and legitimate! Keep reminding yourself that what you have to bring to the table is worthwhile.
- Website: amyvanvlear.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/amyvvphoto
- Facebook: facebook.com/amyvvphoto
Amy Van Vlear Photographer