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Meet Mark Laing of Mark Laing Creative Photography in Simi Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Laing.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After 14 startups and 20 years in the online advertising business, I finally had come to a moment when I could follow my dream and pursue my Wedding and Family photography full-time. I’ve been a professional Los Angeles Photographer now for 6 years and doing it full-time for four.

I shot my first wedding many moons ago for some friends as a favor and loved it – I’ve been into photography since I was a kid and vowed that one day I’d do it full time. I started with my Dad’s 35mm film Kodak Retinette 1B. My first real camera was a Polaroid Colorpack II – now that was a great camera! I sold my big Pro SLR film cameras some time ago when digital became really quite unbeatable. I miss my film cameras sometimes but how can you beat a camera which can capture 2,000 photos at a wedding?

If you like being around love (and who doesn’t) and being around lovers then weddings are a great place to start – sometimes I feel that I should be paying my clients, I’m enjoying myself so much.

I also do a lot of events for Fortune 100 companies and schools. Event photography is quite different from weddings and just as much fun. When you’re a Los Angeles Professional Photographer every day is a joy, to be honest. I get to be with people, make people happy through photography, play with cameras and toys and mess with my computer – what’s not to like?

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?
My Biggest struggles? Hmm, marketing has been one of the biggest challenges.

There are myriad ways to spend marketing dollars as a Los Angeles Photographer and I think I’ve tried them all. Often these (mostly online) avenues work for a short while then dry up. Why? Viewer fatigue? Not sure. Alas most of them insist on year-long contracts which means one is often left with nine months of “sub-optimal” advertising. Or they work great for the first year then slow down year two and by year three are a “moribund.”

I’d say at least 50% of my marketing dollars have been a wash but I actually KNOW which 50% it is. There seem to be more people trying to sell stuff to photographers than there are actual photographers themselves. Somewhat like the 49ers in San Francisco during the gold rush – the REAL money to be made was selling the prospectors eggs, clothing, provisions and booze while they toiled away.

SEO has been a boon and I’ve used my background in online advertising to keep myself at the No. 1 spot in Google for around five years now. Folks who come to my own site invariably are the best and turn into the most solid clients.

Mark Laing Creative Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in Wedding and Family photography – “faces rather than places”. I’d love to do more portraiture and headshots. As much as I love weddings, bar mitzvah photography and events, there’s something very creative and soothing about doing studio\location headshots.

I think I’m best known, ironically, for my customer service or personality. I always get great reviews for my photos and videos but people really remember ME, and how I added to their event or wedding. This goes to the heart, I think, of this whole photography business. It is, above all, a PEOPLE business. You have to love being with people as a wedding can sometimes run eight, 10, or even 12 hours long. Couples are stressed and nervous and one doesn’t want to add to their angst. I try to be a calming, soothing influence above all.

I’m most proud of my reviews, I think. I love some of the photos I’ve taken of people and things over the years but this all counts for naught if no one can appreciate or enjoy them. I might think I’m a great photographer but the only people who really matter are my clients. If they’re happy with the results, then I’m happy.

What sets me apart is my responsiveness (I respond to e-mails as soon as I get ’em), always follow-up, backup ALL my stuff onto multiple offline and local drives (you’d be surprised as to how many photographers leave ALL their clients’ photos on their laptop – ONLY.

And my videography sets me apart too. This industry is full of videographers OR still photographers. I’m a Los Angeles-based photographer\videographer, equally comfortable shooting both or either and I think that makes me really different.

Sometimes I’ll shoot just the video for a wedding or event and sometimes just still photographs but more often than not I’ll do both – “Fusion” and then the magic happens. I can use the stills interspersed throughout the video for that beloved “Ken Burns” effect as much as I want. If I don’t have access to the stills, then I just have video and vice-versa – which is why I love to do both at the same time.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career so far has been getting tons and tons of great reviews on Yelp, Google Plus, and the wedding sites.

If it sounds like I’m craving approval, it’s not like that. For me it shows, more than anything that I’m on the right track and the endless hours of editing, the long day’s shoots and painstaking love have all been worthwhile. That, and getting invited back repeatedly by my school and Fortune 500 clients for repeat engagements – I must be doing something right!

Pricing:

  • “Premiere”: $3,250 Unlimited wedding day coverage
  • “Premium”: $2,350 Up to 8 hours coverage
  • “Professional”: $1,750 Up to 6 hours coverage
  • “Preferred:” $950 Up to 5 hours coverage
  • Videography: $1,950 Up to 6 hours of videography
  • “Fusion” package: $2,450 (Videography and Stills) Up to 7 hours of videography and still photography*
  • Birthday parties, Bar\Bat Mitzvahs, Event Prices from $500 for a birthday\event for up to 2 hours to $750 for 3 hours and $1,550 for an all-day Bar\Bat-mitzvah.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
All photos Mark Laing Creative Photography

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