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Meet Huntington Beach Professional Photographer: Brett Werner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brett Werner.

Brett, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Photography literally gave me a chance to live my life over again, only this time my way.

The first brushes I had with photography were in my days of technology marketing. As a marketing director, on one occasion we needed photos of a new product in a hurry, so we did our first DIY photo shoot in-house and I thought it was fun but really only took on an interest as a hobbyist at most.

My career since the 1980’s was technology marketing, and it was a good career, but I always enjoyed being creative and building new things. I dreamed of having a trade of my own one day that I could retire with and enjoy in those last years of my life. This was me thinking long-term of course.

There was this occasion, I literally sat at home one day and asked myself, “If I could do anything I wanted, what would my new trade be?” I somehow came up with the idea that I could one day retire doing destination wedding photography in Italy and Hawaii. This idea just popped into my head based on no experience or trigger. I just thought it sounded like a great life.

It stuck. I decided to take action and start taking steps, even if it took over ten years, I was going to do wedding photography in Italy and Hawaii.

I was always goal-oriented, but this somehow ignited into a mission that I was seeing as long-term but very much something that demanded immediate steps. So while I worked during the week, I did some internships for professional photographers on weekends and otherwise. An amazing fashion photographer was a mentor of mine, and I had a couple of excellent wedding photographers that let me drag my bags around at their weddings and assist. Next thing I knew, I was learning the ropes, lighting, techniques, people, weddings, etc.

While all this was going on, I was laid off from my job as a VP of marketing for a software company in May of 2013. When I was trying to get back to work the rest of that year, I figured maybe I should earn a little money on the side with photography so I began to build a website and started to publish some samples of my work and started this business really in winter of 2014. The employment opportunity calls were not coming in, but the photography job opportunities started to germinate. I hit the marketing as best I could and found a little niche in that first year to service a budget client base. That first year in 2014, I did over 70 weddings. I never worked so hard, learned so much, made so many mistakes, and before I knew it, I was self-employed, not by choice, but by necessity.

That was a different time, and we don’t try to do seventy weddings in a year anymore. Our business has evolved to corporate clients, families, products, events and a variety of other areas. Weddings will always be our passion because of the opportunity to be creative and work with couples and their families on the happiest days of their lives. This is a career of passion and love. You have to love people and their unique differences and enjoy putting that all together into a product that speaks to everyone in a way they want to be seen. I can’t think of anything more fulfilling. But it started as an accident or a miracle, both really. And the journey seems to be just beginning.

I ended up getting laid off and hiring myself to survive. It has been a huge struggle, financially, emotionally, physically, but what I have learned has been worth it and I feel stronger and better as a human being than I have ever been.

I am doing something that brings joy to others. I give my customers a perspective of themselves that helps them find their super-power and to see themselves in a beautiful way that builds self-confidence and an image, brand, and identity. I get to play a huge part in that process for my customers and see them transform as people into characters and leaders. It has turned out to be rewarding beyond my wildest expectations.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a terribly hard road financially and just trying to establish consistency with no working capital. I have made sacrifices I never imagined I would make. I am too embarrassed to share some of it. I literally got into this and struggled to make ends meet and all of the challenges you could imagine enveloped my life. Using credit cards to buy food, borrowing from my family, my poor sisters, sleeping on couches. But through all of that, we just focused on this product we offer. I knew I had a marketing background and if I could survive long enough, I was smart enough to figure this out. We just had to focus on quality, memories, heirlooms, and somehow the customers began to come and the situation began to mature into a business.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and career?
I think luck must be welcome, even sought out. I used to always be unlucky, always assumed I would lose a bet or a job proposal to a competitor. But I learned about the law of attraction and even myself noticed something about lucky people, they are optimistic and upbeat, always expecting good things and they get them. I think when you begin to believe in yourself and your goals, things begin to fall in place. I have noticed in my business, as I visualize the success, it seems to take form. So to me, luck is a big part of this but we play a role in making those odds work in our own favor.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Well, tenacity is foremost. I have had far too many reasons to give up but I know the difference between achieving great things and not being successful is largely up to how much we can take and grow from the rejection and failures we have. I love biographies and among the most successful it is just amazing the failures they endured along the way. Talent can be a virtue for sure, but tenacity is the spark or the kick in the butt that keeps things going when there is almost no logical reason to continue.

What do you love about our city and what do you dislike?
Los Angeles is just the coolest city in the world. Everyone wants to be a part of our town, the celebrities, culture, the world-class food, beaches, sunsets, weather, fashion, etc. I can’t imagine living anywhere else for very long anyways. And it’s very easy to say what I like the least….the traffic I can definitely do without.

Pricing:

  • We do portraits, couples, family sessions starting @ $250 and up. Rights included.

Contact Info:

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Image Credit:
Brett Werner Photography

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