Thank you all for the love so far with my new blog series on "How to work weddings", a blog for aspiring creatives who are itching to turn their love for weddings into a real business. Be it Side Hustling or Full Time work - knowing where to start can be tough. This blog serves to give you an insight into the wedding world, the motives behind your fellow creatives and what they did or are doing to get their names out there. I really hope you love it!
All image credits: Jo Greenfield Photography
Today I get to chat to Jo Greenfield of Jo Greenfield Photography, an absolute babe and she is a HOOT in person, too! I met Jo while searching for the perfect photographer for my Low Key Boho by the River shoot which was featured on Festival Brides. Jo is the ultimate professional! and a bit of a wizard! Like me, she teaches full time and Photography is her Side Hustle. I'll be exploring this in more detail as well as covering her journey into the wedding world. Enjoy!
Tell us about yourself!
Jo Greenfield, lifestyle and wedding photographer, shootings Weddings part time for 12 years (over 150 Weddings) also one half of The Alternatives, supportive styled shoots for photographers to boost confidence.
You're a woman of many talents... but how long has photography been one of them?
I’ve done it for 12 years but for the first 8 I was totally alone, learnt on my own, just did what I thought a wedding photographer did. Then 4 years ago I met Jenny Appleton and discovered a whole community of photographers. From here my world opened and I gained so much valuable information about business and photography. I now have a wonderful community around me of supportive like minded photographers and wedding suppliers. I absolutely love it!
What made you want to pursue photography as a career rather than just a hobby?
Complete accident, I was asked by a friend at 23 if I’d photograph his second marriage and I refused about 17 times befor he finally ground me down. I don’t have any idea why he asked me, all he’d seen was a portrait of a man I’d taken in Lanzarote on holiday and from that he said he trusted me to just capture his family exactly as they are. Sometimes it literally just takes one person to see something in you that you don’t to change your life completely.
What did you do to build your portfolio?
Again, just shot Weddings, I’m from a world without Facebook and instagram and it didn’t exist when I started so my work cane from word of mouth. It’s only two years ago that I started an Instagram account and learnt through mistakes on how to market myself. I mainly use real weddings to build my portfolio, usually real candid moments but as I’ve grown I do now use more couples and details as well as styled shoot images to appeal to my ideal target market.
You now offer portfolio building workshops - what inspired you to do this and what are the benefits for aspiring photographers?
I have attended a few of The wild ones styled shoots and have loved them. Unfortunately I work full time as a teacher and found that I wasn’t able to go on the mid week ones, and when there was a weekend I usually had real weddings. This combined with my need to teach and educate made jenny and I realise than we should offer supportive styled shoots to people who may be lacking confidence or feel that they can’t attend the bigger shoots in fear of feeling unworthy. There is a big community of photographers of different experiences and we feel that there is a place for all. Most of our attendees are part time photographers who again, struggle to attend the bigger shoots and need more support in their business from straight talking down to earth gals :)
How has your client evolved over time? I.e. do you live for certain types of venues or is it more the location?
I actually really don’t think it has evolved. I’ve always had awesome couples. Daft silly, awesome, bat shit crazy couples who are up for a laugh. I accept most venues and locations and will never say no to any venue. I am in photography for the people. I’m a self confessed people watcher and I am obsessed with the interaction and facial expressions of people. I do have a love for The Lake District, my spiritual Home and where I got married and so naturally I will always jump at the chance to shoot more weddings up there.
Now, where do you get your best leads from? (i.e. Instagram, directories...) and what have you found less helpful
Absolutely 100% Instagram at the moment, second I’d say word of mouth and referrals from previous couples, third Facebook and fourth my website, which looks ok but is probably useless because I don’t understand SEO and I’m too busy teaching teenagers to write blogs :)
I think there's a lot of pressure to leave your "day job" to pursue a creative life, but I often think that I couldn't do wild full time, it would put too much pressure to earn a living and take the fun out of it for me, you've alluded to this on your stories... could you explore the benefits of side hustling in a little more detail here? Why does it work for you?
Simply put, I LOVE working, always have, always will. I enjoy having an active life. I squeeze everything in and still manage to holiday and watch box sets. I don’t have children, and I’ve been very honest about our fertility struggles over the last four years. Ironically my business has boomed in the years when at times, it’s been filled with deep dark devastation and pain. When life throws a challenge at you, you can sit and wallow or you can use it to better yourself and that’s what I chose to do. It’s been bloody tough but I’m sure one day it’ll be worth it. Naturally being childless I have more time to dedicate to photography. My husband and I have a very independent marriage, he works two jobs, so do I, we rarely see each other some weeks but I works. We both give each other the time to pursue our hobbies. We are lucky in that our hobbies both earn us money. The benefits to having a job on the side of photography are that there’s no pressure to earn money, I can pick and choose jobs, i still love it 12 years on and I’m still learning everyday. Without working another job, I fear I’d be lonely, become stagnant and just grow to hate it as I do with most jobs I’ve had over the years.
You're side hustling at the moment - how do you balance Teacher life and Photography life and avoid burn out (as many people will be side hustling at the start of their creative careers)?
I don’t manage burn out well, I have my moments and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It isn’t, but I have a goal and I don’t do well dwelling on what my life doesn’t have and so I propell negative thoughts into action. I cycle to school, I make time for friends, my husband and I have a weekend every month that’s reserved for each other. We actually put these in the diary 12 months ahead of time. If a wedding comes in, tough. Marriage comes first. Regardless of the temptation. I find that being so busy makes the rewards so much more special. We cherish the weekends away together because we are always working. It’s lovely.
Could you share the best bit of advice you've been given since starting?
Be yourself, 100%. If your a potty mouthed sarcastic northerner like me, who cares? I don’t do fake. I’d like to think what I put out on social media is exactly what I am when people meet me. I say things as they are, I’m honest (often brutally) but I’m not pretending to be somebody I’m not. If a potential couple don’t like that, then they are not my couple, I certainly won’t change my language or personality for them. I spent too many years trying to be somebody I’m not, trying to please, fit a mould and one day, I just thought f**k it, I’m tired of pretending to be nice. initially I thought it would impact my business and I’d scare clients off. The absolute opposite has happended and I’ve found my people.
What would your top 3 tips be for aspiring photographers who want to make a living from shooting people in love (lol).
Don’t do it for the money, Do it because you love it Don’t compare yourself to others, but be inspired by others Make photography friends, you’ll need them for your network to second shoot, get advice and just not be lonely.
What start-up kit would you recommend?
Two decent camera bodies and two lenses, for starting out maybe a 35mm or 50mm prime and one zoom, until you become more confident and switch fully to primes.
You don’t need expensive cameras to get started, just reliable kit that does the job. If you’re creative you’ll be able to achieve similar results. As you progress, and charge more, upgrade your equipment. Don’t be one of those with all the gear and no idea. Learn from the bottom and work your way up. Be a slow burner, charge accordingly for your skill set and not what is around you. Explain to clients you are starting out and be honest.
And finally, what are your on the job essentials?
A good kit bag, a good harness (I use holdfast) and a bumbag- seriously! My photography friend Linsey Perry introduced me to the bum bag and it’s a game changer.
I have a laptop for on the go editing and an iMac for home editing which I couldn’t live without.
A huge thank you to Jo! You can follow what she's up to and SWOON HARD! over on Instagram via @jogreenfieldphotographer // for more information or to work with Jo you can visit her website.
Thank you so much for reading - I would love to hear your thoughts!
Faye - Wild Calligraphy