Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jerry Ghionis, Founder of Jerry Ghionis Photography, located in Las Vegas, NV, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a photographer, filmmaker, and photography educator, and I have also been involved in the development of lighting products for photographers as well as for consumers. My customers are people looking for portraits, getting married, or having commercial projects for which they need photography or filmmaking. The main genres I focus on are portraits, fashion, weddings, and commercials. And on the education side, my customers are fellow photographers that are looking to learn photography from me.
Tell us about yourself
My older brother first introduced me to photography and gave me my first camera when I was 15. I quickly became obsessed with photography and soon wore out my family and friends because I was always photographing them. I was an avid hobbyist from age 15 until I turned 20, when I began my professional career. During that time, I had no real bias toward a particular genre. I tried everything and anything – from photographing people to landscapes to sports, etc. When I decided I wanted to become a professional photographer, I thought about going into fashion photography since it felt very glamorous to me. But then I decided that wedding photography seemed a more realistic way to make a living as a photographer. And being a wedding photographer would also give me a more well-rounded experience because you are actually photographing multiple genres of photography in one day and while under pressure. So I approached a very prominent studio at the time and assisted them for a year and a half with no pay – carrying bags until they finally hired me full-time as a professional photographer. After working there for many years, I finally started my own business in 1997. Within three years, I reinvented the business and grew to become one of the biggest studios in Australia, photographing over 300 weddings and employing 15 people. After operating that studio for 10 years, I decided open a boutique studio offering a much more personalized experience for my clients with only me as their photographer, and I have enjoyed offering that bespoke service to my clients ever since.
As far as what motivates me each day, I am actually obsessed with the creative process. In fact, I care more about the process than in the final result. I'm very passionate about bringing out the best in the people I photograph, whether it is creating a beautiful and meaningful portrait of them or creating an iconic campaign for a company. To put it simply, I'm obsessed with creativity and people.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'm most proud of the longevity that I have had in this industry. I've been a photographer for 30 years, and in order to last that long in an industry, it requires that you constantly adapt and change over the years. That's something that isn't always easy and requires a lot of work and constant hustle. In addition to that, being focused on one industry for 30 years has also allowed me to give back and help others coming up in our industry to be successful, which has been incredibly rewarding.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The ability to make a decision is the single most important skill that a business owner needs. Indecision will cause a business owner to become stagnant and will eventually cause them to fail. So I have learned how vital it is to make the right decision to drive my entities and brands forward, reach new customers, keep existing customers loyal, and sustain that constant grind and hustle.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First, simplify your business plan. Ask yourself: How do I make the most amount of money, for the least amount of time, for the least amount of investment, and the most amount of fun? Secondly, if you are a business owner, it is important to focus on working "on" your business rather than "in" it. Are you doing tasks and unskilled things that anyone could do? You should focus on doing the things that only you are able to do. And third, when looking at your business, focus on the people (your customers and team members), product, profit, your process, and your purpose. All of these pieces are incredibly important, and if they are all working properly, then it will be easier to find success.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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