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Meet Andrea Domjan of Andrea Domjan Photography in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Domjan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve become a photographer because of a bad decision I made 10 years ago.

It was never on my list to pursue my career as a creative entrepreneur. Today I think of that ‘bad decision’ as the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

With a bachelors degree in economics in my hand, I was working in corporate for almost a decade. I loved my job and the team I used to work with. If I don’t end up switching companies I would probably still be working in corporate.

I took a job offer at another company and it just didn’t work out so I quit within three months. I decided to give myself a break and went on vacation to figure out what to do next.

Before my vacation I took a couple of pictures of some kids in our family and since I had a lot of free time I started to play around in Photoshop. I was learning the tricks from YouTube tutorials.

When I showed the final images to the family they started to encourage me to become a photographer which sounded ridiculous to me back then.

A photographer? Are you kidding me? There are hundreds of thousands of photographers out there, and everyone knows you cannot make money as a photographer!

Luckily life has proved me wrong and I cannot be happier about it.

I started a blog to showcase my photos, later it became a website and then this whole thing became my life.

I was a family, baby and maternity photographer in the first seven years. After some changes in my life, I decided to turn towards commercial portraiture.

I believe you don’t have to be just one thing in your entire life and I embrace changes even though they can be hard to go through.

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?
The road hasn’t been smooth at all. In the first year, I didn’t make any income and I used up all my savings to invest in my equipment and gear. I couldn’t afford a studio so I moved my furniture in my home and took photos in my living room. I did tons of free work to keep my blog alive and show what I could do.

A year later, thanks to a sweet friend of mine, I had the opportunity to set up a temporary studio in her art school where kids learned to draw and paint.

This meant that I had to go at least an hour early every time to move all their desks and subjects away, clean the space and also the restroom for my clients. After the photoshoot, I had to put everything back in the exact same place where they were before so that the kids could continue their artwork where they had left it.

All this while I was working full-time. Yes, I was so disappointed that I didn’t make any money in my first year that I went back to corporate.

In the next 3 years I worked two jobs side-by-side. During the day, I was a sales person selling international shipping and after work I did my photoshoots and editing. I stayed up late nights and woke up in the early hours so that I could finish my editing before I went to work.

Being a self-taught photographer, I had to figure out everything by myself. I was watching hours and hours of tutorials online to learn proper studio lighting, retouching, editing, and everything I know about photography today.

My clients didn’t know that I was actually experimenting on them. I had paying clients in front of my camera and sometimes I had no idea what I was doing, I guess I just wanted this so hard that I made it.

Even though it was very tough and it almost cost me my relationship to work two jobs, I’m very grateful that I’ve spent so much time in corporate. My background in sales has taught me a lot about business and how to be a good service provider.

After three years in corporate, I could finally leave my day job and become a full-time creative entrepreneur and I haven’t stopped ever since then.

I could afford to rent my own studio and have an assistant and a make-up artist on my team.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Andrea Domjan Photography – what should we know?
I specialize in contemporary portraits. That can be anything from commercial portraiture, editorial, business headshots, acting headshots or personal branding for small businesses.

I think what sets me apart from other photographers is that I don’t only just go and shoot a portrait. I take the time to find out and have a deeper understanding of what my clients are looking for, how they want to be photographed. Then I plan their session and create customized mood boards for them. My work is very personalized to every detail. The photoshoot is just the icing on the cake. They get a whole experience that is all about them.

Also being on time, being responsive, following up and keeping deadlines are my priorities.

What I’m most proud of is that I never gave up. Being an entrepreneur is difficult and sometimes feels lonely and you end up working way more than if you were employed somewhere. But I’m proud that I’ve sticked to my dreams and I’ll continue working hard for them.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think communication, being responsive, being on time and delivering before deadline are all necessary to be successful in this industry. You can be the best creative artist but if you don’t deliver on time or you’re not good with communication, and you end up not getting bookings.

Besides all these, marketing is very important too.

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