Eclectic and non-traditional photography is what defines Montography Studio in Wauseon, Ohio, and it’s what has Montana Neuenschwander booked several months in advance.
Montana tells how she got started and offers her tips for success.
GW: How long has Montography been around?
Montana: Montography has been around professionally for almost three years. But, I’ve been doing photography with my friends and what-not for 4 years. I love what I do.
GW: If I remember correctly you didn’t have any formal training in photography, but took your desire and keen eye and ran with it. Was photography something you planned on or something you stumbled into?
Montana: You’re very right. I was self-taught and I did plan on doing it. I’m very passionate about what I do and I love my clients. They’re the best.
GW: In the start-up stages of Montography what was the initial investment cost to get it off the ground?
Montana: It’s hard to say how much it actually did cost to start up. I already had my camera, which was about a grand and I had to get lighting and backdrops and what-not. I also redid my studio. You should’ve seen the place. Just to say that there was carpet on the walls in the bathroom. That had to go. And my waiting room was a kitchen. Yes, cabinets, sink and all that good stuff, so we had to completely remodel that. So, let’s just say a lot.
GW: Do you do all of your own editing? If so, do you recommend photographers not contract this part of the craft out?
Montana: I also do my own editing which is quite the task sometimes and a lot of people ask why I don’t hire someone to do that, but I just love that aspect of it too. It is great to do it all. Very time consuming, but I enjoy it (most days).
GW: You are primarily a one-woman show. From the artistic perspective of what you do, how do you feel about taking on more photographers to satisfy a larger customer base?
Montana: I’ve been asked this a lot. I think I would hire someone else. Maybe. I just like doing everything and I think it would be hard to have someone else do what I do. What happens if I don’t like something they did? That would be hard for me to confront them.
GW: With the advantages and simplicity of new technology, there has been a boom in new photographers. What advice or tips would you give them to help them achieve a successful business?
Montana: Be creative! You are so right. So many people pick up a camera and are instant photographers. Don’t get me wrong…power to them, but you have to have the creative ability and the eye for photography to be an actual photographer.
GW: Montography is booming, booked months in advance. To what do you credit your success?
Montana: I’m such a people person. I think that helps a lot. If you’re not there connecting with your client then you don’t have a business. The customer is first and foremost. And I’m all about making everyone happy.
GW: In the vein of advertising, what has brought you the most business? Have you used social networking to build your business and if so, has it been effective?
Montana: Seriously, I don’t advertise. Word of mouth baby. That is seriously the best thing ever. Oh, and Facebook…That is the biggest advertiser ever.
GW: On the technical side, any software or products you recommend?
Montana: Photoshop. And I love, love, love, Canon!
GW: What are the average profits for Montography?
Montana: Average is $40,000, but I do 2-3 shoots a day and I had 30 (plus) weddings this year.
GW: Any hard lessons you’ve learned that you can share so that others might avoid those same pitfalls?
Montana: The customer is always right. Never get catty or argue. They’re right; they’re paying you. Just shut up and smile.