I first met Cody and Allison as they drove into Memphis from Nashville to shoot a wedding, and we were able to grab some dinner with some other creatives and chat. We had been acquaintances in a few Facebook groups, but this was the first time we had a conversation. Cody and Allison are amazingly driven and talented. Cody’s put together the Forest and Falls workshop coming up this coming April with an amazing line up of speakers.
What made you want to pursue photography as a business? Was there a tipping point for you or was it gradual? To be honest, I sort of fell into it. I bought my first DSLR in November 2014 and started booking small weddings a few months later after shooting a few couples and engagement sessions along side other photographers. Everything else just sort of snowballed from there. I started booking a lot of free and portfolio building shoots that winter as well where I was able to sort of curate what I wanted my work to look like and then booking weddings became a little easier and before I knew it, I dropped everything I was doing at the end of 2015 to pursue wedding photography full time.
Why photography? What drives you to capture images? I think I love the idea of romanticizing real life. From the time I was a child, I always sort of fell for activities that took me away from the real world. I loved all forms of art and the idea of creating excited me. As I said, making photographs that not only capture real life but in a way, enhancing and highlighting the moments we take for granted.
Where do you see your photography going in the future? That’s a tough one. I lean back and forth between editorial and wedding photography but with the two becoming so cohesive in photography culture, it’s easy to do both without feeling torn apart creatively. But above all, I want to educate and inspire. Oddly enough, I was a personal trainer before getting to photography and before that, was going to school to be a music/percussion teacher and taught part time at several different high schools. Both outlets have really pushed me to want to help others succeed and pursue the goals they want to reach.
What personal projects have you done that have resonated the most with people? I am not 100% sure what resonates with people but if I had to choose, I think a lot of my editorial/creative stuff tends to get a decent amount of response from my photography peers. Within that work, I am able to really go into it with no rules, no time limit and no expectations and just simply create. I think that has really helped with a lot of my paid work and helped me to further book the types of clients I want as well.
If you could start your business over, is there anything you’d do differently? Absolutely. I wouldn’t have started shooting weddings as soon as I did or would have assisted those with more knowledge. Granted, I am glad I got that experience and learned a ton from it but I think a lot of us loose sight of how important our jobs really are. Beginning photographers look for pretty and impressive photos and that is totally fine. But experienced photographers understand the depth of what they do and in turn are able to deliver more gripping and important photos. I missed candids at first. I didn’t photograph guests barely at all. I really only lived for the portrait time. I’m glad to have learned that the most important photos aren’t always impressive. Do I still try and deliver incredible portraits? Absolutely. But everything in between takes priority just the same now.
What marketing activities have consistently worked for you to attract new clients? PUTTING OUT CONTENT. More content means more to put out on social media. More social media presence means more credibility to clients and so on. Not only does the idea of putting out more content help my marketing, blogging, SEO etc, but it helps me because I am constantly shooting. I am constantly experimenting. I don’t make money on every shoot and that’s okay. I want to shoot for me and I owe it to my clients to constantly be improving. I want my value and worth to be twice what it is from the time a couple hires me to the time I shoot their wedding.
Who influences you? I am influenced by a wide variety of people but I think I draw inspiration from the most unexpected places and people. Sure, it’s no secret that I came into photography being inspired by guys like Ben Sasso, Jordan Voth and Benj Haisch. But, I almost always go back to my father and step father. My father always pushed me to do what I love and my step father always pushed me to be a man of integrity and to work hard. Both ideas have greatly contributed to any amount of success we have had with our photography business in my opinion.
How do you choose what projects you do? It’s pretty simple and gets more and more simple the more I take on more work. If my logo doesn’t match the photos I am taking or will take, I probably won’t take the project or at least show that project, wedding or shoot to the world. It’s the simple idea of showing what you want to shoot more of and though that idea seems overplayed, it’s truly helped me stay excited about my work.