Hi we’re Andrew and Lori Osterberg, founders of this blog, VirtualPhotographyStudio.
The purpose of this page is to explain to you how this blog came into being. If you are already familiar with our story and are ready to dive into creating your own Six Figure Photography business, I suggest you go immediately to the How You Can Start page, where I give you steps to start up and grow your own Six Figure Photography business.
Or keep reading. You’ll discover how we built a Six Figure Photography business in under two years, how it changed our lives forever, and what direction we’re heading today.
Here is our story…
How The Internet Changed Our Lives
Since we started out as professional photographers back in the 1990’s, we have consistently earned a Six Figure income year after year, and generated well over a million dollars within this amazing industry.
We’ve purchased our dream home, live in a highly desired neighborhood, send our daughter to the best schools, and travel anywhere we have the desire to go. We’ve taken cruises to places like Panama and Costa Rica. We’ve enjoyed touring some amazing sites in Mexico. We’ve visited exotic locations in the Caribbean. And we’ve toured extensively throughout North America.
While we are at home, we spend a few hours a day writing from our laptops either at home or at a local café. The rest of the time we do whatever we like, including spending time with our daughter,
heading out to lunch together or with friends, watching movies, heading for long walks in the glorious Colorado Rockies, reading, or working on new projects.
Just the other day, our 16 year old daughter started talking about how different our lifestyle is. And after a long discussion, I couldn’t agree more. You see, while all of her friends’ parents are off working the 9 to 5 lifestyle, wondering if their jobs will be there tomorrow, we’ve taken a different path. If she needs us, we’re here. She calls us and we can run up to her school to bring her friends to the movies, or back to our home for an afternoon snack. On school holidays, I don’t worry about her staying at home alone. Instead, we visit museums, head up to the mountains for a day of skiing, or even snuggle up with old movies and mugs of hot chocolate.
As you can see, if you set it up right, your photography business can not only bring you in a healthy income, it can bring you the kind of lifestyle you’ve always dreamed about. Which is something most people can barely imagine.
Of course it wasn’t always like this for us. And it’s taken a long time to build the type of business model we enjoy today.
With the power of hindsight, it’s easy to see the steps we had to take to end up in the position we are today. It went something like this:
1. Figure out how big we really wanted our professional photography business to grow.
2. Find people to model our business after and learn from every resource possible.
3. Continue to learn and grow as we increased pricing to reflect our knowledge and skills.
4. Once we made a healthy living, we discovered ways of approaching business in different manners. Working 24/7 wasn’t a strong desire, so we refined our business to focus in on personal and business balance.
5. Figure out what we are good at and grow different pieces of our business to share that knowledge. Money can come from many different places once you realize where you want to spend your time.
6. We realized we had a great business model, yet were still dependent on working for a living. If we stopped working, the business model would fall a part.
7. The final step – develop different pieces of our business that could continue to bring in income no matter where we are or what we do. Systems are mandatory at this level, which is the once thing we’ve greatly improved on since we first started out many years ago.
We view a perfect work environment as one that lets you earn the income you desire in the way you love the most. Whether it’s in a studio from 9 to 5, or traveling all over the world with your camera in tow. It allows you to spend your days doing what you love to do, without worrying about the money side of things if the economy turns sour or the company has a bad year. You do everything you do because you find it rewarding. You love Monday’s just as much as Friday’s.
Now let me take you back to how we began this process…
How We Ended Up In The Photography Business
Andrew and I didn’t start out as entrepreneurs. In fact, we had no role models whatsoever and had no idea what was possible when it came to striking out on our own.
Andrew and I started our married life in a traditional way. We both had jobs and worked and lived the 9 to 5 lifestyle. Yet we knew there had to be something more.
After Andrew went through three jobs in three years due to “corporate downsizing”, we started learning what stress was all about. (And all of this before we were 27!)
I watched my Dad re-interview year after year for his job – a job he had been in for over 30 years! I watched him worry about making it to 55 – the age he could retire. Unfortunately my dad didn’t make it. Two months short of his 55th birthday, he passed away from a massive heart attack.
So Andrew and I looked at our lives and made some changes. Massive changes.
I knew I hated my job and would never want to be in the same position my dad was decade after decade.
I realized a “job” wasn’t security. In fact, a job in today’s society is the worst form of security there is. Where else can they can they keep you Just Over Broke and call it “security”?
So we asked ourselves a question. Why would we want to depend on anyone else for our security, when we could create our own security?
And with that, our entrepreneur spirit was born.
How We Became Six Figure Photographers In Two Years
We had dabbled in photography for a number of years. Andrew received his first camera as a gift from his Grandma in high school and was the one who carried his camera everywhere.
When we talked about starting our own business, photography was the natural progression. So we moved forward and started building what would become one of the most successful photography businesses around, earning us Six Figures consistently every year.
Two things happened to us that literally made our business soar.
First, we decided to specialize in weddings. We had photographed in a variety of fields: portraits, children, commercial, weddings, stock. But we soon realized our passion was wedding photography; we loved the craziness of the day, and working with people on one of the happiest days of their lives.
Second, we discovered the power of the Internet. Now everyone is online. In fact, Google has indexed billions of pages – and is growing daily! But back in the mid 1990’s, very few people were making waves on the Internet. Andrew and I loved being online, we knew the potential, and we understood that this was going to be the future of marketing. So we embraced the World Wide Web with open arms, and did everything we could to get ourselves noticed online.
We were amazed at how quickly it came. We attracted the top online people. The heads of dot-com companies. Wall street gurus. People that loved technology – and happened to be getting married – discovered our site, and instantly became our clients. Nothing can be more satisfying then receiving a phone call one morning from a groom-to-be, saying his bride-to-be had just spent 12 hours on a dial up line, viewing every image we had on our website. She couldn’t quit crying and she just had to have us photograph her wedding. We booked more weddings by dealing with the groom! It really was amazing.
(If you’ve ever booked a wedding before, you know most photographers deal with the bride and have to convince the groom on the price factor. Imagine how much better life is when the groom calls and says, “I don’t care how much; we won’t have anyone else photograph our wedding.”)
Why We Started New Paths In The Online World
As the years rolled on, our business continued to grow. But when there are only two of you, and you do every wedding together, you can only grow so far. We didn’t want to do more than 40 weddings per year. In fact, we decided 30 was an even better number for us. We no longer had a studio – our clients were anywhere in the world, and had us travel to their location. And we didn’t want to get back into the lifestyle of doing dozens of portraits every month, and having the overhead of another commercial location.
Yet growing was important to us. We wanted a business we could work during the week, and help people along the way. We didn’t have to think too long. In fact, as soon as we started sharing with a few of our photographer friends our new ideas, the phone started ringing. And every one of the photographers on the other end of the phone asked, “How’d you do that?”
Our new idea was born. We created our new company to help other photographers understand marketing, and how you can grow to be a phenomenal success. We wanted other photographers to know the true power of having a website, combining Internet marketing with traditional marketing methods, and seeing your business double – even triple – year after year.
We’ve been doing this for over six years now, and still love working with photographers. Photography is our passion; we just work with it differently now!
We love helping you succeed!
We love watching your business grow!
We love creating tools that will help you achieve your goals!
Since the very first day we started up our photography business, we knew we loved the art form of photography. We catered to wedding clients because we loved the art form of wedding photography. And we moved into the online world with Virtual to help other photographers achieve the same success we had.
Our income continued to soar year after year and we’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of our students achieve their own levels of success, launching all types of photography businesses. Nothing brings us greater pleasure than having an email arrive in our inboxes that say, “You’ve changed my life…”
When we first started out in wedding photography, we catered to just a few clients a year within our wedding photography business, realizing customer service was key to our growth. We made ourselves available 24/7 … and saw our stress grow. We loved what we did yet missed having the time to do what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it.
So we made some changes.
We focused on creating things that didn’t require us to be “present” all the time. Things like coffee table books, greeting cards and stock images. We focused on creating Virtual and presenting new and unique ways of learning the business of photography.
This experience taught us both the importance of finding balance between how much you work, how much money you need to do the things you want to do, how much time you spend enjoying your life, and whom you chose to have around you and share your life with.
We’ve also kept in mind that journeys change all the time. Right now we both feel blessed to lead the kind of lifestyle we do. We know we have options and reevaluate our direction every year. We can do it because we’ve chosen that lifestyle. We’ve made that a part of who we are, knowing there are always new adventures waiting in the wings. We love to experience them and grow along the way. And hopefully you feel the same way now that you’ve read this far down into our journey.
Which means your journey will also continue from this point forward. The next step is for you to take action.
How You Can Benefit From Our Story?
As you’ve read through our own personal journey, I’m sure you’ve had your own questions form and wonder how you can do it too. While our story tells of only one journey on the road to success, the main idea to keep in mind is anything is possible.
Your next step, if you want to follow in our footsteps and build a photography business that will allow you to live any life you choose, is to go to the How You Get Started page and begin the process of designing your own studio.
This blog is filled with many, many different articles and resources that explain how to make a healthy income from photography. Some are detailed and provide you with step by step guidance. Others are meant to give you intangible ideas to help you think outside the box about your own business and lifestyle. Still others are used as case studies to show you how other people have made photography a part of their own lives.
I realize it can be daunting when you first come into this site and see hundreds of pages of content. Which is why we’ve created a series of starting pages to help guide you. This next page will be your guide to the exciting world of photography …
Thanks for reading our story. We’ll see you on the next page.
Andrew Osterberg and Lori Osterberg
Co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com