Starting a Wedding Photography Business

Interview with Janice Celeste, Founder of Celeste Studios Film & Video Productions

Janice Celeste specializes in cinematic wedding productions. Today, with her husband Mike, they have grown her hobby into a full-blown business.

Janice and Mike Celeste have been devoted to growing Celeste Studios since 2006.

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

At Celeste Studios Film & Video Productions we film platinum-type weddings internationally in a cinematic style.

What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?

I was a postproduction supervisor at a marketing firm in Long Island City and my husband was a retail merchandiser. It is not my first business but it is for my husband.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?

Network, network, network in person and on the Internet. Sometimes it may feel like a waste of time but this business is about building relationships and Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites have been important relationship building tools that are constantly working for us.

Have you hired additional staff?

Yes, we recently hired a part-time college student to do our rough editing, which helped us tremendously. Unfortunately, one of the challenges is retention. Once the person was perfectly trained because of school responsibilities and new logistical issues, she had to quit. We are now looking for another person.

What do you think are the benefits and challenges are to running a business with your husband?

He came on full-time last year when he was let go from his 5-year position in retail. It's difficult for someone over 50 to find a job in this economy and this made more sense. We decided at that point to grow the business and have been very successful at it. One of the perks is that we work almost intuitively together. We make a great team. It's important to know who's the boss and that the title is respected. There have been times when I had to be assertive on the job and upset my husband because he took it too personally. He's quit at least twice.

Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?

We tried outsourcing our editing but we felt that the quality wasn't up to par with what we were doing. I also felt that when the person we outsourced to realized that our expectations of quality were higher than his own he wanted to raise his prices but still couldn't deliver what we expected. This made us a bit hesitant to try again but we have recently revisited the idea of outsourcing but this time to a company in the Philippines.

Finding employees to work in a new and growing business can be a challenge. How did you find your employees?

We utilize Craigslist a lot but we also ask for recommendations from other industry professionals.

How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?

Our business started off as a part-time almost hobby-like business for me to have extra spending money but then when my husband lost his job, we both had to make a full-time salary out of this small business. This meant we needed to make a minimum of six-figures a year. When my company was a hobby, I think that I enjoyed it more. I was able to pick and choose clients and take my time with work. Now I feel like a factory and struggle with maintaining quality along with efficiency.

What an interesting story! I'm sure you are not the only entrepreneur trying to squeeze more out of their business these days. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

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