We sat down with our member and one of South Florida’s premiere wedding photographer’s, Erika Delgado; get to know her!
Erika, from the Commune to the War Room, you utilize our space to the max — we love it! Can you give the community some insight about what line of work you are in?
Absolutely, and thanks for making it such a fun space to work in! I’m a wedding and portrait photographer. We usually photograph anywhere between 25-30 weddings a year, and 50-60 portrait sessions.
What’s the most challenging part about your work?
I’d say the most challenging part of my workflow is editing. I can’t usually stay still for too long and editing a wedding takes a lot out of me; although we have an editor who does the majority of our early editing, I still spend 2-3, 8-to-9 hour days working on the final touches, designing the album, and working on the final steps of the workflow to complete the gallery for the clients. I love it and I hate it. I’d much rather be on location with my camera in hand but it’s the final step and I can’t imagine not having a role in it. It’s my work, my art and I need to finish it. So although I feel like my eye balls may fall out of my head, it’s all worth it knowing that I’ve delivered photographs and a beautiful story that I am so proud of, and that my clients will cherish for the rest of their lives. It means the world to me.
And the most rewarding part?
I’m pretty sure I just answered that above, haha! I should have read ahead! I will add to that though. The greatest reward I can give someone is a most precious memory of a moment in their life. A photograph is an heirloom – the one tangible thing that we can touch and feel and in just a moment we can be transported to another season of our lives. When I photograph someone’s wedding day or them with their newborn baby in their brand new home, I know I’m holding a place of a major responsibility. I’m so honored to take these photographs that will bring a smile to their faces, their children’s faces for years and years to come. It’s the most rewarding thing in the world for me.
When did you first take up photography? And specifically wedding photography?
I started gaining interest in photography my first year in college, this was in 2008. I was attending UCF and I would make the drive from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale over and over to visit my family and during those drives, I would day dream about taking a photo along the side of the highway, or under the beautiful tree that I had just zoomed by. I noticed the natural light that would shine on the trees lighting them from behind, or how the light made the freshly wet pavement from the rain shine. I just noticed things I never had before and I wanted to freeze these pretty scenes. I started googling photography and before I knew it, I bought my first DSLR. On these same drives home and back to school, I listened to a lot of Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra audio books. These books fueled my curiosity and ambition to just go for it and start shooting and sharing it with the world. I started a project called “Project 365” which consisted of me taking a photo every single day and posting it to a blog and facebook. I’m not sure why people like my photos (they were awful in my opinion) but I guess they were cool back then because people liked them! Soon enough I had inquiries for headshots, birthday parties, and model portfolios. After a year of exploring with my camera I assisted a friend who shot weddings a few times, then eventually got my own inquiries and just started! I look back now and I cant believe I just did it…
Any productivity tips or secrets you are willing to share?
Definitely! I’m a huge advocate of healthy balance, time management, and goal setting. When you’re running a small business and wear 17 hats, you have to find the balance of getting everything done and still having a life. At least for me, I find I need that happy balance or I’m a crappy artist and business owner. I need to work my butt off for days in a row, often crazy hours and then I need to take a day or a half day to myself – have a good workout, massage, read, or go out into nature… anything I just need to do for myself that day and then I’m refueled to keep going the next day. The key for me is to take care of myself. If I don’t nurture my mind, my spirit, my happiness, I am no good. I’m miserable and downright good for nothing. So for me, this comes down to the hours of my day, time management. I I try to use every minute wisely. I use this app called ‘Swipes’ and it helps me plan my daily schedule down to the minutes. Of course, I don’t always get everything done that I’d like to, but my calendar and daily ‘swipes to do list’ helps me stay focused to meet my daily goals and weekly goals. Which brings me to my next productivity tip: I have always written down my goals. I place them somewhere I can see them every single day. Whether I’m consciously seeing them or not, this act of writing them out, taping them on my wall or refrigerator and walking by them every day… somehow they manifest. Between the combination of hard work, staying on schedule ebery day and giving myself time to breathe in life… a little miracle happens and my goals have always been achieved. F YEA! Write down your goals people, stick them everywhere! you shall see…. haha.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
I’m currently laughing as I read this question over and over. This is a GREAT question. The thing is I don’t really have anything special I want more people to know about me. This question has me stuck, moving on!
What advice would you give a photographer looking to break into the wedding industry?
First and foremost, please go buy yourself a camera or borrow one if you can’t afford it at the moment, just get your hands on a camera. I get messages from people looking to break into the industry and they tell me they’ve never really used a camera and I’m sort of confused at that point. You need to just dive in and start playing. The point is that you need to shoot every single day… And learn how to use that one single camera with that one single lens. Shoot flowers, bugs, spider webs with the light shining through lol (every photographer shoots these at some point) just find what your mind, spirit, and eyes connect to naturally. Photograph these things over and over and study your images in different lighting situations and in the different settings your capture them in. Don’t stop shooting for a single day, take your camera everywhere with you and keep shooting, do this for at least 6 months and along the way read books, ask google and YouTube your questions and be hungry to learn about your photographs. Plenty of photographers offer one on one sessions or workshops, find a wedding photographer who is offering a class and attend. I can’t just tell you in a nutshell how I got this far (i can say it’s a lot of hustle and perseverance) and especially in the early stages of becoming a photographer, these things are exactly what I did. I played, I explored, I asked Jeeves (lol throwback!) and I used my camera every single solitary day for an entire year and fell I love with the process. So go play, go have fun before you ever start thinking about going into business as a photographer because that’s an entirely unique and different aspect of being a photography business. First photography. Then business. Just nurture your inner artist that keeps speaking to you, whether it be with a camera, or a pen, etc. First, create for yourself before you ever decide you want to create for others. I say that with pure love and honesty and I promise it will be a personal treat and an incredible journey! “You have to do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do.”
What’s your take on the coworking infrastructure? And more specifically General Provision?
I think it’s amazing. So may people are freelancing and working from home. But we know how difficult it is to concentrate at home sometimes. It’s so nice to have a work base, a community and GP does a great job at nurturing that community and a fun place to go spend the day working. I’ve met wonderful people here in completely different fields and I love that! So much knowledge in one place. I think co-working is here to last for a while, I’m excited to see where the industry takes us in a few more years.
When you aren’t working hard at GP, where might we find you?
If I’m not at GP, I’m usually working from my home office, craving a day at home where I can hang with my dogs and cat, burn my candles, blast my music, and visit my fridge every half hour for a snack. Often, we travel for work too so we schedule fun adventures around our travels when we can and when I’m not working, I’m usually finding something fun to do around town with my husband Josh.