Photography business continued: an interview with Michelle Hamstra

michelle hamstra

Picture of Michelle Hamstra courtesy of Michelle Hamstra Photography

Photography continued from page one

Michelle Hamstra, 31, of the greater Chicago area, has been snapping memories for the past three years. She always enjoyed shooting photos but taking it to the next level was a step of faith. Learn more about this mom of four and some helpful tips to get you going.

Q.  How did you get into it?

Hamstra: I always loved taking pictures but when I had children I found myself wanting to be able to take it to the next level.  I rallied family members to go in on a film canon rebel for me. I later upgraded to a digital rebel and eventually to my current camera, Canon 5D Mark ii.

Q:   Was this a venture you pursued to help financially solely?

Hamstra: My business was an exciting step for me to actually get paid for doing what I loved to do. It was a hard step! I was so scared people would be regularly disappointed in my work and that they wouldn’t think I was worth what I charged! But, as I grew in experience I also grew in confidence and I now approach my clients with excitement to capture their memories with both passion and skill.

Q: Did you have any formal training?

Hamstra: I was self-taught in photography and photoshop but I have taken one professional workshop.

Q: Is formal training needed? If not, what is?

Hamstra: I would say no, but I would like to temper that with a caveat.  To pursue the self-taught route requires a lot of work. I spent countless late night hours searching for tutorials, tips and secret editing strategies. If you have the money to invest a few workshops would expedite that process tenfold.

Q: If someone was looking to set up a business what would they need to do or what do you recommend?

Hamstra: I am the worst person to ask. I am a terrible business woman! From everything I’ve read I’d say that Facebook and blogging are the top keys to a successful business. I barely do either.  I rely on doing an amazing job for a bride and posting some things to Facebook and hoping that her friends love her work and want to book me!

Q: What do you shoot mostly and what is your favorite thing to shoot?

Hamstra: People, people, and more people!  I love shooting high school seniors and wedding couples!

Q: What are your rates?

Hamstra: My sessions start at $250 and my weddings start at $2,500.

Q: How would someone wanting to get started determine what is appropriate to charge?

Hamstra: So much of setting your price is contingent on your market, your skill level and your competition. Don’t undercut your competition so much that you make enemies but I do think its okay to be an inexpensive option. A helpful piece of advice I received was to increase your prices after “x” amount of sessions by small increments until you are at the price you want to be at.

Take a look at some of her stunning work. To learn more about Michelle Hamstra Photography visit her site at

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