Taylor Jackson says he just wanted to make his friends look cool. “Then everybody started to grow up, get real jobs and get married,” he says.
That’s when he turned his hobby – taking pictures of bands and snowboarders – into a wedding photography business. The Kitchener-area resident says he first started using Photoshop at age 12. Two years later, he’d started making snowboard videos.
As he got a little older and his friends started playing in bands, he’d take pictures at their concerts.That led to a concert photography gig with a magazine. “I didn’t make any money, but I got to see the bands,” Mr. Jackson says.
That led to his first paid gigs – taking promo shots for bands. Up until then everything had just been for fun. “I think I just wanted to make my friends look cool,” Mr. Jackson says. “Especially when they ended up in magazines, they loved me.”
Mr. Jackson says he then started posting pictures on online stock photography websites and, for the first time, he started to make a steady income from his photography. While it wasn’t much (he says he was only making about $100 a month), it was “more the hope that it generated.”
One of his stock photos, a crowd shot from a Toronto concert was used in a promotional billboard for the television program American Idol.
It was a big moment, but not a big break. “There was no defining moment, there was just a slow build,” says.
From stock photos, Mr. Jackson says he started to get corporate photography work and what had just been a hobby started to become a bit more of a job. Still, he wasn’t quite ready to make the leap.
He says it took about three years from the time he started to make real money to the point where he quit his day job.
The first wedding he shot was a for friend’s co-worker. He says he got the job on price alone. “At the time it was just a budget thing,” he says. But it gave him “something to show, something to blog and something to sell.”
Mr. Jackson’s business has come a long way since then. He usually shoots weddings with Lindsay Coulter, a photographer who is also his business partner and girlfriend.
During the busy summer season, he also works with six subcontractors. Though it depends on the job, the usual wedding shoot involves a team of three, including Mr. Jackson and Ms. Coulter.
While he says that moving from concerts to weddings is still an ongoing learning process, that experience served him well. “Concert photography is one of the most difficult forms of photography,” he says. “Everything I’d learned was applicable.”
Increasingly, Mr. Jackson is branding himself as a destination wedding photographer. While most of his work is still in Kitchener-Waterloo or Toronto, he says around 25 per cent is now overseas.
That’s given rise to his new hobby, a travel photography blog. And even though his hobby is now a business, he says “it’s still a passion, it’s still fun.”