Turning to Photography
Upon returning from her Caribbean vacation, Morden spread all the photographs she had taken on her living room floor and was blown away by the results. "The colors were just amazing," she recalls. "Seeing those colors did something to my brain, especially in gray Washington, D.C."
Shortly thereafter, she started a fine art photography business on the side of her attorney career. But when the anthrax scare hit D.C., Morden couldn't get into her office for days...and the photography bug took a more serious hold. She went and photographed the monuments, getting shots that most couldn't due to her credentials and access.
While photographing the city, Morden had an epiphany about what she really wanted to do with her life: Take her little fine art business and turn it into something she could live off of. To help realize this goal, she attended the Maryland Professional Photographers Association (MDPPA) convention. She was so inspired that she joined MDPPA shortly after leaving her high-powered law job in Washington, D.C..
"For a year, I attended all the meetings, participated in photographic competition and talked to the mentors," she says of her beginnings. "That year of learning was so valuable to me. It got me to a level of photographing people...not just things. Photographers even let me come with them to weddings, so I could learn on the job!"
Taking Photography to the Islands
After that year, Morden opened Paradise Photography on the Turks and Caicos Islands. And she credits those islands with leading her to do a little bit of every type of photography.
"On an island, you are called to photograph families, weddings, commercial work (food, resorts, real estate), etc." she explains. "Lots of people who go to the islands for events and photo shoots would rather hire a local than fly another photographer in."
"Celebrity or high-profile clients and their agents tend to look for a photographer who will be discreet and respect the privacy and confidentiality of the shoot, especially when celebrity children are involved," says Morden, whose experience as a lawyer was a bonus during this session. "Being a lawyer in my previous career, I knew how to handle confidentiality agreements and respect the importance of the unauthorized release of the photos."
Continuing to Grow in Photography
Morden has experienced quite a few changes in her life, from career moves to country moves. But her desire to grow has never changed, and that is why she is an international PPA member. In fact, she says that she joined to continue her photography education.
"I know the value in keeping my skills up," she explains. "And for international PPA members, the online courses and Online Learning Pass are amazing. Where else am I going to get Photoshop training on the islands? The courses are refreshing, and I'm always learning more. The variety of education is one of PPA's biggest strengths."
She also believes that membership has helped her grow her business through the principles of partnership marketing and networking. Morden credits PPA for teaching her about these things, which are vital components for an island business.
"It's a small, personable island, so I work with wedding planners and coordinators to get on their preferred vendor lists and minimize marketing dollars," says Morden. "I even joined local organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Hotel and Tourism Association, and that helps me get work."
Having her website featured prominently on the Tourist's Board website also helps Morden market to potential clients before they arrive on the island. "We give them ideas of what to do on their vacation, such as get a family portrait or plan a dream destination wedding," she adds. "It gives us a chance to book their sittings or events prior to their arrival."
In addition, Morden has established a strong Web presence for her business by partnering with forums like Trip Advisor, which allows tourists to review recommendations of photographers in the area. Her site is also listed on many of the key resorts' sites in the area, giving those interested in photography (for weddings, portraits and events) another way to find out about Paradise Photography. And when she provides images for various island real estate sites, the photo credits and links help drive traffic back to her own site (promoting her commercial work).
Whether it's growing her business through marketing or growing her skills through PPA education, the point is that Morden is continually growing. And that desire for improvement only helps her grow as a force in the industry!
Read more about Christine Morden here.
ALL IMAGES Â© CHRISTINE MORDEN