Name: Rachel Hadiashar
Location: Boston, Mass.
Education: B.A. in flute performance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; M.A. in theology and the arts from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
Job title: Special-events photographer
What She Does: Weekends find this photo junkie crisscrossing New England in her VW Golf, driving to weddings, parties, and other events. But instead of the usual “cake and couple” shots for the mantel, Rachel captures more unexpected moments in unusual settings: senior portraits shot in Chinatown, a young smiling family in a cow pasture, or a close-up of a young bride’s ankle tattoo. She’s definitely not your mother’s wedding photographer, as her website proclaims.
How She Got Her Gig: “I grew up in a household where a camera was always at arm’s length,” she says. “I started taking tons of photos to document the crazy parties my roommates and I would host in grad school, and then kept moving up to nicer camera models and bigger events.” Rachel left her desk job at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last spring to focus on her business, Decent Urban Lifestyle Photography.
Say It Loud: “Photography is mostly a word-of-mouth profession!” she says. “I need to know and work with ‘connector’ people in New England, because most of my work is fairly local (though for weddings I love traveling all over). Local professional organizations and community groups are also very helpful to get to know people when you are new to an area.” Rachel asked acquaintances she met through church, networking groups, and friends to pose for sample photos to help build her portfolio. They started referring their friends and word spread quickly about her photography skills.
Resource Box: Rachel hones her craft by taking photography classes, attending workshops, and browsing photos online. “I’m a Flickr junkie!” she says.
On-the-Job Advice: Rachel says the best way to hone the craft of photography is by “doing it in the field and making mistakes and then going home to look up the answers later.” Another thing to consider is that having a photography business is more about business sense than fine art. “Marketing yourself effectively, figuring out what your services are worth, and moving forward with the type of work you enjoy doing takes some pondering, but the effort is worth it. The market changes from city to city. For instance, a pricing structure that is acceptable in Boston is not always acceptable in Ohio…or even western Massachusetts.” To get ahead, find mentors and then pepper them with questions.
This Job’s for You If: You’re ambitious and have an eye for photography. It also helps if you’re cool under pressure, can be flexible, and have a sense for what the client needs. After all, you are photographing them on what could be the most important day of their life. Says Rachel: “Social skills and jokes to loosen the mood—and basic professional equipment—go a long way.”