How many entrepreneurs would forsake a lucrative market and a well-established business model for a less established but ultimately more satisfying niche? That’s what photographer Olesha Haskett-Basma did when she abandoned wedding photography. Here’s more of her story in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE THE BUSINESS OFFERS:
Boudoir and portrait photographs.
Yep, you heard us right. Haskett-Basma was on a safe and secure path to success, it seemed, when she launched Oh Experience Photography seven years ago. She booked her very first wedding gig the same month she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Shepherd University. But eventually, she would feel creatively unsatisfied.
As a result she decided to take her career and business in a more…er…intimate direction. Haskett-Basma’s photos are very tasteful. But clearly the market she was aiming at now is less established and ultimately more risky.
THE BIGGEST RISK THE BUSINESS TOOK:
Leaving wedding photography behind.
It probably goes without saying that the biggest risk Haskett-Basma took in her business was leaving the safety of wedding photography behind. Though she admits it was lucrative, she also admits her heart was no longer in it. Leaving wedding photography proved to be an extreme risk and it turned out there was plenty of reason to be concerned.
But ultimately, Haskett-Basma believes the decision has made her better at her craft…and perhaps a more effective marketer too. She recalls:
“I almost went out of business when I traded in weddings photography for boudoir photography about 3 years ago. I had to build a new clientele. I stayed in business by using models to get better at my craft and built a blog.”
WHAT THE BUSINESS IS BEST KNOWN FOR:
Personality and rapport.
Perhaps the thing that has changed the least about Haskett-Basma’s business is the thing that has ultimately made her succession. She explains:
“I am known for my ease with my clients. I make everyone feel beautiful and comfortable in my boudoir sessions. In my portrait sessions I am known for going the extra mile, especially in children’s photography. I never pose the children, I allow them to be who they are. That way, I am able to capture their personality. I do everything they do, even crawl on the ground.”
39th Assembly for the Links, Inc.
Among her greatest wins, Haskett-Basma lists being asked to photograph the 39th Assembly for the Links, Inc. recently, an international non-profit organization for professional women of color. The assignment came about after a photographer Haskett-Basma had worked with years ago became unavailable to do the event. The other photographer remembered Haskett-Basma for her winning personality and asked her to sit in. The event became not only a plumb assignment but a great opportunity to network.
WHAT YOUR BUSINESS WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:
Start with her first love.
Despite the risks and the rough patch she went through, the one thing Haskett-Basma insists she would change if she had it to do all over again, is to start with what she loves. That would have meant starting in the portrait and boudoir niche and bypassing the wedding photography business completely.
The reason, says Haskett-Basma, is simple. While she insists that weddings are, in some ways, not only more lucrative but also easier, she also believes the work she does now plays more to her strengths. She explains:
“I would have done this because I love to work one on one with clients. I love building a session around a clients personality.”
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Image: Oh Experience Photography