We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Cafaro and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Peter, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In one short sentence: It’s encoded in my DNA.

From a very early age, I was heavily influenced by family members that were entrepreneurs. My grandfather on my mother’s side uprooted his family from Chicago to move to California to pursue his passion for farming and wine. The once small winery he started in the 70s, is now a renowned wine brand. On my father’s side, my great-grandmother and grandfather started many businesses and ventures, which led to their great success. This paved the path to my father starting his own consulting business and then later, his wine brand, Cafaro Cellars.

Perusing my passion, and expressing my creativity was always something that was encouraged growing up. I had a camera (film) in my hands at a very early age, taking pictures of flowers in my backyard, my three cats, and anything else I found beauty in. I’m sure the photo lady that processed the film questioned my artistic ability but I improved as I got older.

After I graduated college and began a career in law enforcement no matter the job title or salary, I was never satisfied. I was overworked and burnt out, which led me to question: is this really what I want to be doing the rest of my life? That ignited the spark that I needed to free myself from working a 9-5 and pursue a career that fed my soul instead of just my bank account. That’s when I realized, I could turn my photography hobby into my own business.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Starting your own business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. You give up your weekends, you work late nights, and self-care goes out the window. In the beginning, you start to even wonder if it’s worth it. I had this idea that owning your own business meant you work whenever you want to work but for me, that was not the case. Building my business from the ground up meant a lot of blood, sweat, and tears – a lot of trial and error. I took every job that came my way and did so much editing that my eyes felt like they were going to fall out of my head. The one thing I never did was give up. No matter how much I questioned myself, I always kept moving forward and never surrendered. I also surrounded myself with people that believed in me, even when I didn’t. It took me a while to find my niche, but once I did, I began focusing solely on that and started to stand out.

I couldn’t be more excited about the future of Peter Cafaro Photography! Having surpassed my own expectations thus far in such a short amount of time, I know the future holds great things for myself and my business. One day, I envision having a team of associate photographers and focusing heavily on travel and destination weddings. Combining photography with my love for traveling would be a win-win and is a goal I’m currently working towards. If someone told me a year ago that my business would be where it’s at now, I would have laughed. My best advice for anyone pursuing their passion is to be persistent. Push yourself further than you think you can go, and then don’t stop – great things will happen.

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?
We would start at sunrise with an epic hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. After our endorphins are as high as the clouds we flew in, we’d head over to Bouchon in Yountville for some pastries and coffee while taking a stroll downtown and soaking up all its beauty. Then it’s off to the wineries for gorgeous views and of course, wine! The top of my list would be Castillo di Amorosa, Artesa, and The Donum Estate. Their wine is just as amazing as their views – and that’s saying a lot because the aesthetics don’t disappoint. For lunch, we’d go to Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in Saint Helena and after that, we’d head to Indian Springs in Calistoga to indulge in a massage and mud bath. We’d then finish up the night in downtown Napa at Avow, situated near the river with a rooftop bar – great drinks, great food, and great vibes.

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 you first begin to talk to people about starting your own business, there’s a lot of people who will tell you that you won’t be successful. I’ve heard everything from “Photography isn’t a real job!” to “You won’t make any money.”

What’s even louder are the fears and the doubts in your own mind.

Through all that, my beautiful wife, Jessica, has never wavered in her love and assistance. She has showered me with an overwhelming amount of encouragement and support, which has been influential in the scaling and success of my photography business. From emotional support, to being my second shooter at weddings – she lives, eats, and breathes Peter Cafaro Photography and I couldn’t thank her enough. She is my cheerleader, motivation, and my inspiration.

Susie Mendoza, of Susie Mendoza Photography, has also been a huge influence in my success. Not only is she a master wedding photographer but she has been the best mentor I could ask for. As you can imagine, there are several aspects of being a wedding photographer and she has helped me navigate through it all, while always hyping me up and building my confidence.

Website: www.petercafaro.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/peterfcafaro

Image Credits
All photos are my own.

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