Inspiration with Anni Graham

August 14, 2020

What got you started in Photography?

I started studying photography right out of high school and have been pursuing a career in it ever since. I was mainly pursuing photojournalism, but would shoot weddings for friends to pay for rent, etc while attending college. I honestly didn’t love weddings that much and felt they were more of a production than an intimate and emotional gathering as they should be. It wasn’t until I got engaged and started planning my own wedding that I discovered a new kind of wedding photography that included adventure, travel, small intimate wedding and elopements and realized this was exactly what I had been searching for in photography so a number of years. As soon as I graduated and got married, I dove in and started my business!

What lessons do you wish you knew back then that you know now and some of your beginner tips?

It took me a while to connect with other photographers, I tend to be a bit of an individualist, but once I started realizing the value in it I wish I had started earlier. It’s really hard to try and do it all by yourself! Connecting with other photographers allowed me to learn different ways of doing things, we started sharing referrals and couples, and it has now become my community of moral support while running my own business (which can get a little lonely). But I think the best thing I ever did in wedding photography was go full time. It was definitely scary, but without the pressure of needing to pay rent and pushing myself to the limit of becoming a better artist, business owner, etc I wouldn’t be where I am today. 

When you need new inspiration/motivation, where can you find it? Is there any different way you go about finding it?

Inspiration and motivation come from so many different places, but a consistent one for me is to do personal shoots. I find that there isn’t anything more creatively stifling than the pressure of needing to do something perfectly. Sometimes I just need to do a shoot that is unpaid, and possibly photos that will never be delivered, just to be able to have the freedom to practice, try a new technique, a new lighting situation, a new lens, anything really. I have to keep a healthy balance of personal and paid shoots in order for my creativity to consistently overflow into all of my work. 

Best tips for those who are already established and trying to up level?

The best tip that I have for anyone who is established within their business is to push their business into a niche. It’s a bit counterintuitive and most people think that doing everything will get their business flourishing, but time and time again it’s been proven that become really, really good at one thing will make your business thrive. A niche doesn’t necessarily have to be shooting only one kind of client, it could be a very recognizable editing style, a unique business style, or maybe it’s mastering a particular location that you shoot in all the time. You can choose what that looks like for you, but doing it make your business stand on it’s own. 

How do you avoid burnout?

Avoiding burnout might be the topic of my year! But it’s a really good one to constantly be learning. I found that taking time off, true time off, is what I need to feel refreshed. In order to take that time off I had to learn a really hard lesson in saying NO. It’s so hard to say no to work or to potentially make a couple feel that I am rejecting them because I am available according to my calendar, but it’s so incredibly important. The more you do it, the more confident you become in it, and you start feeling in control of your life again. 

Your thoughts on traveling the world like you are able to do and destination photography?

I think destination photography is amazing and I absolutely love it, but whether or not I am being paid to travel and shoot somewhere, I would be doing it anyway. Travel is a deep part of my life since childhood and has been an easy transition to make it a part of my business. What worries me is seeing photographers who have no experience traveling or shooting in a foreign county take free travel jobs to exotic locations as an excuse to either take a vacation or to gain status in the world of social media. Destination photography is a lot harder than shooting in your home city and in some cases, not as profitable. If you really want to become a destination wedding photographer, you need to become a well versed traveller first! 

Why are you excited to be a part of the Evolve Workshops Instructor line up again and what can we expect from you in Hawaii and Greece?

I’m so excited to get to be a part of Evolve again this year because I think Jamie and Kortni are an incredible team who are constantly growing and pushing their workshop to new levels. I’m particularly excited for both Hawaii and Greece because they happen to be two very common places for couples to elope, plus they are absolutely gorgeous to experience in real life. Like I said earlier, it’s so important to be a good traveller, to get to know a location and know what it entails in order to be a more competent photographer and these workshops give a photographer the experience to grow, connect, and travel in a community. It’s the accumulation of everything I have talked about here – the chance to practice and get better at your skill, to connect with likeminded photographers who are doing the same, to become a better traveller by increasing your range of locations and experiences, and to have fun in the meantime!