Photo Credit: Laura Goldenberger Photography
Photography was always in the back of Chloe Moore‘s mind, but it wasn’t until “an excuse to spend the summer abroad” with her older sister in Italy that things started to take shape for her future. She spent college doing the absolute most to make something out of her creative endeavors. Fast forward to today and she’s almost a decade deep into running her own photography business by the beach.
Along the way, she’s learned some incredible lessons and she was nice enough to give budding photographers a heads up on a mistake rookies can make. She also noted what’s to come this year as she prepares for a major addition to her family’s life.
Kendra: In doing these interviews I’ve found one either quits their 9-5 day job and takes on photography, or has been about it since day one. You’re the latter. What got you interested in photography to the point that you went and pursued it at NYU?
Chloe Moore: During the summer of 2007 when I was 19-years-old, I took a film class in Florence, Italy. I unexpectedly fell in love with photographing people and creating in the darkroom. Until this time, I had always planned to study business in college. Because although I always took tons of photos, I never really thought of myself as being creative. Especially compared to my family of artists!
By the time I returned stateside, I was applying to universities with strong art programs. Places where I could pursue photography while still sticking with my other academic passions and the Gallatin School of Individualized Study within New York University was my DREAM school. You literally create your own major and work closely with advisors to study and follow your passions. I was 20-years-old when I moved to New York and interned with a few photographers there while I was school, as well as at Vanity Fair. A couple of years later, I decided to try out wedding photography in 2010 and that’s how I got the ball rolling!
Kendra: How did actually studying photography in an educational setting – in a place like New York City – help strengthen your skills overall?
Chloe Moore: Photography is definitely a learn-by-doing discipline so while my art education was certainly important, I learned way more outside the classroom while interning for other photographers and seeing how they run their businesses. Many successful photographers are technically self-taught and of course, some things like having a creative eye can’t really be taught. You either have it or you don’t.
What really stuck with me when working with older, more experienced, photographers was how to value my services and be realistic about business costs. Now that I’ve been doing this for almost a decade I can say I’ve unfortunately seen many talented photographers burn out of the industry within a year or two because they don’t know how to run a business.
Many will price themselves very low to gain entry to the market and undercut other photographers. They end up realizing, in the end, the time and cost of doing business just doesn’t add up if you don’t price yourself at the correct market value. They need to seriously consider how much time and money you need to invest in business costs.
Kendra: When you started your business almost a decade ago, social media was not what it is today. Would you say the growth of the hashtag culture has helped photographers reach new levels?
Chloe Moore: Back when I first started out, Instagram didn’t even exist yet! That’s hard to believe since social media is now such a huge part of my business! Obviously, Facebook existed and the trend towards “showing off” your life on social media was definitely emerging. So when people got married, the photography was becoming a MUCH more important factor in the couple’s budget.
Wedding photography had always been very stagnant and traditional. Typically the photographer was an older man who had been shooting all of the weddings in town for 30 years and shot the same stock photos every single time. Think bride looking out the window is about as creative as you would get! Couples didn’t devote a very large portion of their budget to photography.
But just as I was starting out on my own, I noticed wedding photography was trending towards being more photojournalistic and much more creative. Which is why I decided to pursue it! The growth of social media in the last decade has certainly aided in the growth of my business; both in weddings and family portraits. We are all documenting our lives online through images. That means more and more people are willing to devote more money to photography to capture the major milestones in their lives. Everything from engagement photos to wedding photos through to maternity, newborn, baby’s milestones, etc.
Kendra: You take full advantage of being near the beach. You’ve shot a ton in the sand and even had your own family shot there. What is it about the waves and sunset that is forever classic?
Chloe Moore: I’ve always been a beach girl. I grew up in Florida, lived in Hawaii briefly and would only ever live near the beach here in LA (#sorrynotsorry.) It’s definitely my go-to place to shoot. I love the simplicity of the colors at the beach. They really highlight the subjects. Plus, when you frame them in your home, they go with pretty much any kind of decor. For family sessions, the beach is a good place to let kids run around and be themselves. That way they don’t feel like they’re posing for stiff portraits. Plus, you just can’t beat the sunsets and quality of light in Southern California. It’s legendary among photographers!
Kendra: In terms of a typical say engagement shoot, how many photos do you take and how many wind up ordered?
Chloe Moore: For my standard 1-hour session which is what I include with my wedding packages for an engagement shoot, I usually deliver somewhere in the realm of 100-125 photos including a mix of digital and film images. I always give my clients the digital downloads for the full-resolution files. That way they can order prints and albums wherever they like!
Kendra: From a professional standpoint, where is the best place for a couple to display their wedding portrait?
Chloe Moore: Personally, I’m a big fan of albums! I’m more into artwork on the walls over photos of ourselves and have surprisingly few framed photos in our house. The ones I do have are only about 5×7 in size and live in a small frame on the shelf. I think it’s really important to have physical prints of photos though. So I do have lots of albums and of boxes of photos. I going to clients’ homes and seeing the different ways they display their photos!
Kendra: Back to the beach. You and your family did a shoot there with Jordan Galindo to announce your second baby. Congrats by the way! Since you’re a pro behind the camera, do you take finding a photographer 100x more serious than the average person?
Chloe Moore: Thank you! Being a photographer, I definitely value good photography for my family as well. Luckily, I have made many connections with other photographers. We often gift/trade each other sessions. But if that wasn’t available to me, I would easily spend top dollar on photography. Jordan Galindo, Rebecca Yale, Kayla Lilli, and Laura Goldenberger are all top-notch photographers who have captured our engagement, wedding, and family photos over the years. These incredible women are not only my co-workers on weddings but have also become some of my best friends. It’s easy to trust them with my family’s precious memories.
Kendra: You’ll be taking some time off in late spring/early summer to focus on your new baby, but tell the people what you got going on until then and any plans you may already for after…
Chloe Moore: I will be taking “maternity leave” while we adjust to our second little girl’s arrival in the spring. Meaning I will be taking 8-10 weeks off from shooting. I put “maternity leave” in quotes because honestly, business owners never really get time off. You’re always working!
Our family depends on dual-income. So even on maternity leave I continue to edit, blog, book weddings and shoots for the late summer and early fall, run social media accounts, answer the usual boatloads of emails, etc. During the beginnings of the year, I typically take on a lot of work that I’m not able to during wedding season. Things like fashion lookbook shoots, corporate work and events which don’t usually hit the pages of my portfolio and of course babies are always being born so I continue to shoot tons of maternity and newborn photos during these months!