Today we’d like to introduce you to April Dawn Sledge.
April, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all started with a question from a real estate agent I was working for in college. He said “you’re going to school for photography right?” At the time I did not think much about photographing houses but looking back now it all made perfect since. Starting when I was 9 years-old I wanted to be an architect until I was in 11th grade. I quickly learned I despised math and that was not going to work. Real Estate Photography was combining my two lifelong passions: architecture and photography.
I did not think starting to start my own business straight out of college was a great idea, and to be honest I was always told there was not a lot of money in photography. I went to work in corporate for about 3 years and decided I was ready to make a leap into entrepreneurship. I went home and talked to my husband, Torre, he said, “okay, quit your job”. I took a month unemployed and started planning every detail. Being a Marketing Coordinator for 2 years I knew the importance of having your brand 100% ready before you started. After I had all my ducks in a row, I looked up any real estate event I could find to help me meet as many realtor at once. Then I found Real Estate Connections Atlanta. It was two days way and my business cards had just arrived. It was a $20 fee to get in and I had already spent a good amount of money on materials. But, I had a strong feeling this was the event I needed to be at to start this business right. After the nerves wore off I was ready to go. I met Phyliss, which graciously she introduced me to Peter Pasternack, lead character from Flip this House, and also the coordinator of the event. Shortly after the event I sat down with Peter for coffee to see how I could hit the ground running in the industry. He was a wealth of information, and he was not afraid to tell me what I was doing wrong. Now, 2 years later, I photography all his events and I am a trusted Ambassador for Real Estate Connections Atlanta.
I have worked hard to build meaningful genuine relationships with my customers. I started out going to 2 events a day 5 days a week. I made sure if agents were out networking they seen my friendly face. Now I am building a team that all my customers love to see out working as well. We have a staff of 4 right now and see more growth in order to prepare for spring. I am where I am today because of a drive inside me to succeed and in order to do that I know I have to have three vital things. One, to surround myself with a strong support system: which includes my husband, family members, and my staff. Two, stay active and involved in my industry to understand my customers’ needs. Three, always listen to my gut feeling.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Everyone told me owning your own business is amazing but it’s not easy. This is without a doubt an understatement. Don’t get me wrong I love a good challenge and sometimes work better when things are tough. I have had three major challenges since I have opened. First, I started out with great equipment but not the best equipment for the job. It was not until I had a very upset client that I forced myself to go into debt in order to buy a $3,000 lens to satisfy a client’s needs. He knows I did it just for him and I glad I did. He started giving me referrals and for the first time I started get GREAT complements on my work. Equipment is expensive, but I make sure not to let it get in the way of a job done right. Second, bringing on staff was hard for me in two ways. I have my way of photographing houses and I was afraid to let anyone else try to do it for me, even if I trained them for months on end. Also, my clients loved me. I was whom they build a relationship with and they wanted me to be the one to photograph their houses. I still struggle with this but it is getting better by setting appropriate expectations. Three, is what I call a Work-Wife balance. I have a hard time putting work aside and taking a break. I may shut the laptop but I will pick up my phone and start sending emails. My husband is a champ and very understanding but I know the frustrations. I can’t remember the last time I made a home cooked meal; my excuse is I don’t have time. I believe these three things will always be issues, there will always be new and better equipment, I will sometimes have a hard time transitioning photographers into the field, and I will always want to work. But I hope to constantly work to make them minor issues.
April Dawn Sledge – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Photography at Dawn started out as a Real Estate Photography Company. We work with real estate agents, contractor, interior designers and stagers to photography the inside and outside of houses, condos, offices, and full communities. We now also specialize in corporate photography such as headshots, company and associations events, and company branding. These all steamed from the needs of our real estate agents. We are most proud of our reputation in the industry. Most of our business comes from referrals from not only current clients but also people who just love seeing our work. We spend very little in advertising and are still crushing our goals. We try to set ourselves apart by being readily available to our customers by having availability to get to an appointment less than three days of them calling to book and a 24 hour turn around on all real estate sessions. Also, we are very personable. Not only do our real estate agents love working with us, but we make their homeowners feel at ease and comfortable when we come into their home.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my career currently would have to be being selected into the “Best Real Estate Photographers in Atlanta 2017”. Only 20 photographers were selected and I was honored to be recognized for all my hard work. Not only am I recognized in the TOP 20 but it is also in an industry that I love, real estate.
- Real Estate Photography Starts at $125 for Under 3,000 Sqft
- Headshot Packages Start at $150 for our Classic Package
- Events Start at $275 for 2 Hours
- Address: 5060 Sugar Pike Rd
Canton, GA 30115
- Website: http://www.photographyatdawn.com
- Phone: 16782473048
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/photoatdawn/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhotographyatDawn/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/photoatdawn
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/company/10306352/
Photography at Dawn, LLC
Sydney Bruton Photography