Monique Woolley is a 25 year-old artist and photographer living in Agoura Hills. After graduating from UCSB with a degree in art and architecture, she began shooting for a wedding photography company in LA and fell in love with the idea of documenting candid moments that often go unnoticed. This inspired her to start her own photography company, Wild & Woolley Photography, dedicated to capturing those slices of life. Read our interview with the lovely Monique below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I have always known that I wanted to do something creative for work, it was more a matter of figuring out exactly what that looked like. My senior year of college at UCSB, I was about to graduate and had no idea what to do next; I ended up getting a job shooting for a wedding photography company, and things began to line up. I got to work with couples who were madly in love, document their love story in a unique and creative way, and give it to them to keep forever. It fit everything I was looking for. After a couple of years, the only thing I was missing was more creative control. I wanted to bring my personal vision to life. So I took the plunge and started my own company – the scariest and best decision I’ve ever made.
Tell us about your business.
Wild & Woolley Photography is about capturing life’s adventures: weddings, families, and portraits. I’ve always had a fascination with people going about their everyday lives, so I like the idea of documenting authentic moments that tell someone’s story at that given time.
Where is your business based?
I live in Agoura Hills, but shoot all over Ventura and LA county. I greatly enjoy travel and exploring new places, so I am always looking to incorporate that into my job.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The biggest step was simply deciding to do it. From there it was a matter checking things off the to-do list. Such as coming up with a name, getting a business license, liability insurance, designing a website and all the other not so glamorous aspects of getting started.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
While social media and marketing obviously play a prominent roll in raising awareness, my business is growing largely due to referrals. People I’ve worked for tell their friends, who tell their friends and suddenly the ball is rolling.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I am extremely self-critical. It can be highly motivating, but it can also be incapacitating if I let it. There is so much competition in the photography industry, and it’s all there on Instagram for you to see. This can make it difficult to be confident in your own work and not compare it to everyone else’s. I still struggle with this and probably always will, but I trust myself and my vision, so I try to focus on my personal growth.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I surround myself with positive people.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I never shoot the same way twice. I focus on getting to know and understand this particular couple, or family, or person and then document my time with them in a creative way. Providing a space where people are comfortable and can be themselves is my top priority.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Not to doubt myself. Starting a business requires putting a lot of faith in yourself and your abilities, and I think that is a scary thing for anyone to do. But it’s important to not to underestimate your capabilities, to believe in yourself.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Figure out what you love and what makes you special, and do something with it.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My photographer friends and contemporaries who are always there with advice and anecdotes.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am new to the world of social media, which is such a large part of this industry. I didn’t have any personal accounts before I started my business, so I have been learning as I go.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I am going to keep focusing on learning and improving as both an artist and a business owner.