We had the good fortune of connecting with Alyssa Hunter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
When I first started my business, I was told to say yes to everything. While I think it’s important to say yes to new opportunities and get out of your comfort zone, I disagree with saying yes to everything that comes your way. While I was building my business as a family photographer, I kept getting inquiries for weddings. Everyone was saying that I should just take on a couple of weddings because even though I wasn’t a wedding photographer, it was a great way to make money. I don’t get excited over weddings, therefore I didn’t want to be a the photographer for such a special event. You aren’t going to be the right person for every job and that’s ok! The more clients you repel means that you’re narrowing down who your ideal client is.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I never thought I would be running my own business. I started out working with nonprofits, which I still do and love, but the nonprofit I was with ended up shutting down. I thought I would take a more traditional role, but instead I took a job as an assistant to a wedding photographer. My time with the wedding photographer led me to realize that I’m not made for weddings, but that I loved photographing the kids at weddings. That’s when I decided to open my own business and focus solely on families and kid’s birthdays. I know a lot of incredible photographers who photograph both weddings and families, but I decided to really narrow that down to the whole parenthood experience. I want to be with a client from maternity photos, to newborn, to first birthday, to family pictures. The hardest part has been moving my business from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Both are heavily saturated with photographers, and I had just had my highest grossing year as a family photographer. Due to personal reasons, I left the Bay Area to move to LA. It’s been hard to find my ideal client in a new market. I do my best to constantly be exploring new areas to photograph at, searching hashtags on social media to find ideal clients, and talking to my friendors (vendors turned friends) to see if they have any ideas or advice. The community you build your business in is so important. One of the most important parts of building my business has been learning. I try to attend a workshop once a year so that I’m constantly learning and improving on my skills. This year obviously no one has been allowed to do much, but I had one of my photography idols come into town, and I reached out on social media to see if I could shadow her. She was so receptive and the day became a mini workshop. There’s always ways to learn, whether it’s online workshops, zoom calls, guides, etc. At the beginning of Covid, I went through a How to Use Pinterest guide. I had 0 views and after only working on it for a few days, I had over 10k views. I only put 20 minutes into Pinterest each month and now have over 80k views. Never stop learning!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a friend come to town, we would be grabbing brunch at Cafe Vida or Bru’s Wiffle. Then we’d head to Malibu to go hiking. We would stop by Pacific Palisades to grab some sweets from Sweet Laurel Bakery. My favorite restaurant in LA is Forma so we would definitely have to order some cheese plates and pasta. Sidecar, Blue Star, or Randy’s are all some of my go to donut shops. We’d probably eat those on our way to Disneyland or Joshua Tree. We’d end the trip with some Salt & Straw ice cream after visiting the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and the beach.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When I moved to Los Angeles, I made it a point to find some industry friends. I went to a Rising Tide Tuesdays Together meeting in West LA and met some wonderful women. We wanted to meet more regularly than once a month, so 6 of us formed an accountability group. We’re able to chat about anything business, and personal, that comes up. Especially during Covid, it’s a great time to have a support system. All of us have different backgrounds as well and are often able to work together or recommend each other for jobs. I wouldn’t be as successful without my favorite Culver City ladies. The group is made up of a calligrapher (Alex of @signsofourlives), a florist (Jaynie of @naturerules.co), stationery designer (Collette of @poppyandbirchca), intimate wedding and elopement photographer (Jenny of @jennycollen), and a bar tender/ owner of a vintage trailer bar (Jenny of @juniper_rocks).
Alyssa Hunter Photography