We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Holtzman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was fortunate growing up to be able to pursue many of my interests. I started playing the trumpet at 4 years old and continued through college. My father had a darkroom and I spent many hours developing pictures. When I was 17 I became an ocean lifeguard (and at the same time got my pilot’s license). My lifeguard experiences got me interested in becoming a paramedic. I just followed my interests and tried new things that seemed interesting. After graduating college, I started to work in the movie industry as a medic. My father became ill a few years into my medic work. I would alternate days between working as a medic and taking him to his treatments and then dropping him off at his business – a truck dealership. Since I was with him the whole day, I started selling trucks while at the dealership. I discovered that I did like the idea of an 8-hour work day verses the 16 hour day with the movie industry. After my father passed away, I stayed on with the “family business”, as the 8-hour work day was much more convenient. Not too long after that I got married and had a couple of children. Fast forward about 20 years later, when I discovered that I had no upward movement with the truck dealership, I decided to follow my interests again and became an aerial photographer. Just like when I was younger, just followed my interests and figured out the details as I went along. I had no idea that there were other aerial photographers and I was working as an aerial photographer for about a year before I met another one. My marketing strategy was to reach out to 10 leads a day, every day, and build my business. Some years later my son joined me and now have a father-son business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There is a substantial crossover between my business and my creative work. I know that being more business-minded would probably help my bottom line, but if it is a nice day when I’m up flying (working) I will take extra time to get pictures just for me. Growing up playing jazz, improvisation was important to me and that is how I continue to work – trying new things and always pushing myself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Obviously, for a flight over Los Angeles. Flying over the city gives you a different perspective of Los Angeles and Southern California, in general. When friends come in town, I would take them on a flight to show them around, as Southern California is incredibly diverse. Starting in Downtown to see the size of the city, over to the Hollywood Sign for some iconic views, then to the beaches up and down the coast, then over the mountains to the deserts, and circling back over some of the wine and agricultural regions just outside of the city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, Jennifer. Her love, encouragement, and belief in me is why I was able to leave the “family business” and start my aerial photography company. It was very difficult changing careers after 20 years, especially when you have family that you need to take care and provide for. Also, leaving a secure paycheck for the unknown was very scary and having family support is incredibly important.
Mark Holtzman – West Coast Aerial Photography, Inc.