Ismail Sirdah is a photographer and entrepreneur who has gained recognition in the niches of travel, retail, and wedding photography. He recently opened his own photography school, and has helped many young photographers open thriving businesses.

Ismail Sirdah began his work in photography as a photographer’s assistant. Using his SLR camera, Ismail would practice photography techniques for hours until he created a great photograph. His willingness to try new techniques and experiment with new equipment gave him an advantage when he opened his own photography business.

Sirdah has worked with a variety of clientele and is known for his creativity in creating backdrops and using unorthodox settings. He is also noted for his ability to create timeless looks using trendy photography techniques.

His love of networking led to his interest in retail photography, and Ismail Sirdah enjoys the challenge of making products come to life.

How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?

When I founded Ismail Sirdah Photography, I started becoming heavily involved in promotions and marketing for my clients. I found that the images we used in our campaigns had a big impact on my clients’ lives and businesses. When the image was good, so was the response. I started taking on more clients looking to improve their marketing campaigns through photography and learned more about their expectations. I bought the right equipment, and took classes. That led me to founding my photography company as it exists today.

How do you make money?

The first time I picked up a camera, I fell in love. That feeling never left me as I got older. A love for the art form really inspires me to this day.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

I paid off my initial investment of the classes and equipment within two years and worked to build a steady stream of clients. I was profitable within the first month of starting the photography business formally.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Yes, there have been times that I felt in over my head. For example, when I realized that I, I was not good at delegating, and I started to panic. I handled it by recognizing that there were tasks that I could delegate and followed through. For example, I now have an office assistant and now I can focus on the photography and teaching aspects of my business, as opposed to the day to day operations.

How did you get your first customer?

I got my first customer due to taking pictures of an event I was just attending to practice. The picture won an award and was featured in several local publications, and of course, my name was attached. The customer wanted me to take photographs of her storefront, in the same style. It was a great gig.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

Social media marketing has worked really well for me. I share my photographs through Instagram, and I also have a very active Facebook page. I don’t really get into Facebook advertising, but I boost posts at least weekly, which draws in new customers and fans.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

I recently had to decide if I wanted to move away from wedding photography, but I won’t because I love the emotion and joy that is captured in wedding photographs.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I think that my personality helps with my success. I can make friends quickly, and the friendships are genuine. I think that relationships have a lot to do with business, and the more healthy, happy relationships that you can foster, the better off your business will be.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

My most satisfying moment was when I broke a specific dollar amount plateau that I had been working towards with the photography business. It really validated the fact that artists can make money. I had a long-standing belief that artists were destined to be poor, so it felt very satisfying to overcome and change that belief in my mind.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I hope to expand my photography business. Right now I am focused on event photography, but I would like to branch out into more areas. I have been fascinated with natural elements lately, and would like to do some traveling so that I can take more nature and landscape-based shots.

What business books have inspired you?

Grant Cardone’s “10X Rule” really influenced the way I thought about my business ventures.   

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I recently purchased a MacBook Pro, which has helped me get organized. I used to move between a laptop and desktop, neither of which was very good. It feels very good to have everything in one place.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

I am very excited about the new digital camera that I just purchased.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

Practice really does make perfect. It takes a lot of hours of practice to gain good photography instincts, so just keep going!

My mentor always used to tell me that if you are in a bad mood, you have to stop what you are doing and go do something else. Then, when you come back to the task that was putting you into a bad mood, you will have a fresh perspective.

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