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Conversations with the Inspiring Sabine West

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sabine West.

Sabine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always had an interest in photography, but it wasn’t until sophomore year of high school that I realized that I could actually turn this thing into a job. I started off shooting senior photos for friends, and by senior year I had actually booked my first wedding! Things have luckily continued to progress from there. Over the past five years, I have consistently been able to book around 2-3 shoots a week. Families, seniors, engagements, weddings, events, etc.! Another area that I dove into specifically in 2019 was shooting with influencers. I have worked with over 20 cast members from the last two seasons of the Bachelor/Bachelorette. This has definitely helped me grow on Instagram and has even allowed me to educate other photographers on how to book similar types of shoots.

Everything has been absolutely amazing and I have been fortunate enough to make photography my full-time job. Recently however, I have been about my next move. I obviously love photography, but I want to take things a step forward. I want to focus specifically on what my goals are and where exactly I want to be in these next couple of years. One thing that I have always had a passion for is fashion photography specifically. It has always been a passion-project of mine on the side, but I am looking forward to taking this thing full time. I plan on working to rebrand myself in this next year, and eventually creating a separation between my fashion work, and my wedding work.

Another area that I am super passionate about is education! I remember always wanting to become a teacher when I “grew up”, but as I got older, I realized it definitely was not for me. Lately though, I have begun to realize that educating others about photography might actually be my niche. I love hosting workshops and working one-on-one with other photographers. When I first started out as a photographer, I felt so lost and had so many questions. Every photographer I reached out to, left me on read! It was like people were afraid that if they shared information on their camera gear, editing, shoot locations… that other photographers would surpass them. It was a totally unhealthy mindset and created a really unhealthy culture. Since then, many photographers have begun to open up and it has completely changed the game. It is all about community over competition! This is an area that I plan on developing and hopefully will have more educational content in the throughout the year!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Building and running a photography business has definitely had its struggles. Like I mentioned earlier, it felt impossible when I first started out because I had no idea what gear to use, what software to edit with, etc.

The biggest piece of advice I can give on this is to just jump 100% into it. Shoot EVERY single day, whether it is payed or not. Watch YouTube videos on running a photography business, and take notes. Follow other photographers that have a similar style that you are going for. Just dedicate yourself to it completely and I promise you will grow quicker.

Another question that I am getting constantly is “How can I find clients willing to book shoots?”. When I first started out, I was primarily doing free shoots…so obviously it wasn’t too hard to find people interested in a free shoot. But as time went on, I decided it was time to start charging because I was getting too many shoot inquires to still be free. Ever since then, I honestly haven’t had any issues with booking sessions. I think it’s just putting yourself out there constantly, and again… shooting EVERY day. You will get better as a photographer and people will see that and want to book.

What should we know about Sabine West Photography? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Over the last five years, I have booked just about as many different types of shoots as you can think of. This has allowed me to really focus on the type of shoots I want to book, and more specifically what direction my brand is headed in. I would say that I specialize in editorial/fashion photography and styling. I love developing ideas for shoots and then planning/styling until it has come to fruition.

As a brand, I am pretty proud of my consistency. This is something that I started a little over five years ago as a hobby, and to think that I am now doing it as a full-time job is just crazy. I have met so many people over that time period, and it has been awesome to develop relationships with my clients.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
There are a bunch of different people, podcasts, “YouTubers” that have helped me out along the way.

Here are a few of my favorites

YouTube Channels:
Mango Street
Jessica Kobeissi
Eric Floberg
India Earl
Jessica Whitaker
Jasmine Star
Samuel Elkins

Podcasts:
What We Said
Beyond the Lens
The Photography Together Podcast
How I Built This
She Podcast

All things photography education:
India Earls IGTV’s on Instagram (highly recommend)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sabine West

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