Meet Demarcus Bowser, a Memphis-based photographer who specializes in event photography and professional head shots. He began shooting casually in 2003 by capturing friends in his apartment on film. “You had to know what you were doing before releasing the shutter. Otherwise, you were wasting money.” That expensive reality is what led Demarcus to become a master of lighting and exposure before switching to digital photography.
Today, in our #LoveWhatYouDo profile, Demarcus explains how his love of photography has transformed into a business. He also explains how “too much” passion for the craft can sometimes lead to a struggle to scale – a great perspective for others who are contemplating entrepreneurship in a field you love.
Ding!: It’s safe to assume that you love to take pictures. What made you decide to turn it into a business?
Demarcus Bowser: In 2002, I wanted to step up my photography skills. Until then, I was just a guy with a point-and-shoot… taking pictures of family stuff. I wanted better quality images, so I bought an SLR (not DSLR at the time) and started shooting more, studying, asking questions, and buying stuff. That last one – buying stuff – is where the need arose for me to at least break even. I needed lights, lenses, and a lot of other supplies that weren’t cheap. I really wanted to see if I could bring my vision to life. I’d seen other professionals’ work and thought that I was at least as good as some of them.
!: Did you struggle with meeting the back-office demands (accounting, legal, operational processes, etc)?
D: Yes. I was all over the place. I didn’t really have any systems or processes in place. I was just shooting pictures. I also had a day job and was in school. Both of those commitments meant that I had limited hours that I could dedicate to my photography business. I’m a lot better now, but I’m still far from where I want to be. Ultimately, I want to spend most of my time shooting – I think the dream of every photographer.
!: How do you incorporate social media into marketing your business?
D: Not nearly as much as I’ve needed to. I post very few actual session images (compared to event photos, which I post often). I plan to incorporate [photo shoot images into my social media strategy] a lot more after I talk with the nice people over at Ding! to get some insight. (Nice plug. We look forward to chatting with you.)
!: What’s your favorite thing about your work day?
D: Shooting, marking things off of my to-do list, placing an order, meeting with a client to deliver an order, understanding my client’s vision.
!: Do you use any non-traditional tactics to market your business?
D: Not currently, but I have some ideas. Also, I’ve started talking to Al Pickett – a genius at non-traditional tactics – I’m sure he’ll help me develop tons of great ideas.
!: Where do you see your business in five years?
D: Shooting a LOT more to begin with. I also want to have a self-sustaining, better structured organization. I want to concentrate on wedding photography and senior headshots, with a few corporate clients.
!: Why do you love what you do?
D: I have a unique vision that no one else can replicate. I also get to inspire other photographers who appreciate my art. I also love working with my clients – especially the seniors. I get insight into a young person’s world. They’re always so full of life and anticipation of the future.
!: Does your business have a philanthropic initiative?
D: I don’t have a formal campaign, but I do support grassroots organizations whose mission is to cure the issues they seek to serve.
!: Where can people find you on the web?
!: Do you offer Memphians any special promotions on particular days, at specific times, or for certain services?
D: Weekends are our peak hours, so we charge full price for all weekend events and photography sessions. We provide discounted pricing on Mondays – Thursdays.
Demarcus Bowser Photography provides great event photography and professional photo shoots. Thank you Demarcus for giving us a glimpse into your experience as a professional photographer and sharing why you #LoveWhatYouDo.