Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Cassandra Estifanos. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Cassandra, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about a project that you’ve worked on that’s meant a lot to you.
I had a client book me for her maternity and newborn session. I have actually known this client since high school so I was super excited to see her again after so many years. We had a great time at our session together and I was so happy to finally meet her husband as I had seen so many wonderful things about him on social media. During our maternity session together, they lovingly referred to their daughter as “Peanut” because the father to be loved elephants. We even took a photo with a special peanut onesie they brought to their session. A few days before their daughter was born, I received news that the father has passed away in a car accident. I knew I wanted to do something to incorporate him into their newborn session. I took photos of baby girl holding photos of her dad but then I had an idea for something incredible. I didn’t tell mom about my idea because I wanted it to be very special. I photographed baby girl on her tummy and spent hours very carefully photoshopping her onto the trunk of an elephant. I wanted this photo to represent her dad holding her. A photo that to this day, I lovingly refer to as “Peanut”. Mom was so grateful to have such a special and unique piece of art that represented the love her late husband had for their daughter. Years later, “Peanut” has won many awards and sits proudly blown up on my studio wall. And I still see “Peanut” every year for her annual birthday photo session with me.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
My name is Cassandra and I am an award winning maternity, newborn, milestone, and family photographer in San Diego, California. I have been a photographer for ten years now. I worked in the pediatric medical field prior to being a photographer and wanted a job where I could still work with children, but in a happier atmosphere. Photography definitely fulfills that for me. I love clean, vibrant and bold colors and incorporate it into all of my work. It definitely makes my work stand out as my own. I love being a photographer and am a one woman show from first website inquiry to gallery delivery. My clients love that it is me they deal with for the whole process. I am super outgoing and friendly and always strive to make my clients feel more like family/friends when we work together. When I am not busy running my business full time, I am a wife and mom to two. I am super proud to not only have a successful business, but to be showing my children how heard work and dedication pay off.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
My business is very much built on word of mouth. I have never paid for any kind of marketing. A lot of my clients recommend me on local mom groups or to friends when people are looking for a photographer. I also get a lot of inquiries because someone saw my work somewhere (either a friend had photos done by me or they found me on social media). I think as a creative, it is important to let your art and service sell itself as much as possible.
What else should we know about how you took your side hustle and scaled it up into what it is today?
I started doing photography on weekends for friends and family. I didn’t charge anything for it. It was more of like a creative therapy for me after working an exhausting day job in the medical field. People were always complimenting me on my work and telling me that I should do it for a living. I decided to learn a little more about photography, so I took an “Introduction to DSLR Cameras” class at my local community college. Afterwards, I practiced on anyone who would let me (including my poor husband and our dog!) Once I felt like I had a better understanding of that I was doing, I decided to offer family mini sessions. I didn’t charge a lot for them at the time because I didn’t quote know my self-worth yet. I remember when I opened the booking for them, they sold out in 5 minutes. I was so excited! I did the sessions and everyone loved the photos. I started slowly raising my prices and taking on paid sessions on the weekends. Before I knew it, I was in love with the creativity and passion I was experiencing with photography. My husband and I were living in Los Angeles at the time and we always wanted to move to San Diego. We decided to take the leap and when we moved here, I focused on doing photography as my full time job instead of going back into the medical field. My first year, I put everything back into my business and my equipment. By the second year, I was profitable and have been very careful every year to run my cost of doing business to make sure I stay profitable. I am now ten years into photography, have a busy studio, and am so much happier with this job than any other job I have had.
- Website: www.cassemaphotography.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/cassemaphotography
- Facebook: facebook.com/cassemaphotography
In action photo by Detalles by M