Even though he was fascinated by Polaroid cameras as a child, Whigham never considered a career in photography. In fact, after high school, he joined the Marines. Strangely enough, it was the Marine Corps that would give him his start in photography...leading him to become the Marine Combat Photographic Specialist.
"Who knew there was such a job as Marine Photographer?" says Whigham, remembering what he thought when he received the position. "But it only took seeing my first print going through development to get me hooked on the idea of being a photographer." And that idea stuck.
After leaving the Marine Corps in 1997, Whigham established his studio and was working full time as a portrait and wedding photographer by January 1998. Today, his specialty has become a combination of wedding and high school senior portraits.
"I believe I chose these specialties because I truly enjoy the interaction with the families," adds Whigham. "The brides, the seniors, the moms, the planning--I love listening to clients as they talk with us about these two very important milestones in their lives. Maybe it's selfish on my part, but being allowed to photographically capture these clients' visions of their big day gives me such personal gratitude."
But just because you love what you do doesn't mean there aren't challenges to face. One of Whigham's biggest challenges is finding the balance between being a businessman and an artist. He credits PPA with helping him do this.
"Being involved in PPA and PPA Affiliates like Professional Photographers of Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans Professional Photographers Guild has given me the opportunity to discuss business issues with fellow photographers who have gone through the same challenges," explains Whigham. "I learned early in life that experience is the best teacher; however, I don't believe it has to be my personal experience. I believe I can learn as much if not more from someone else's experiences."
And now, Whigham will help you learn from his experiences when he hosts "The ABCs & 123s of Successful Mini Sessions," a Super Monday class on May 16 in Gretna, La.
During his Super Monday class, Whigham will share one of the ways he brings in new clients: mini sessions. He'll teach you the steps that have allowed him to plan mini sessions, create their promotions, and execute for successful results.
"Attendees will not only be able to plan, promote and execute their yearly promotions, but they'll also walk away with tools to determine if those promotions are profitable to their studios," adds Whigham. "Take the guesswork out of your promotions and make the decisions that correctly affect your bottom line!"
Learn more about Whigham's class and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at http://www.ppa.com/education-events/sm_new.php.
Super Monday is an educational program sponsored by PPA every spring and fall. These daylong, interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.
Read more about Whigham, the current president of the Greater New Orleans Professional Photographers Guild, here.
ALL IMAGES Â© JAMES WHIGHAM