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Meet Mark Creery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Creery.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Mark. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started as photographers often do with a camera in hand as I traveled. I grew up in Victoria, Canada, and I was lucky enough to go to Europe every few years to visit my extended family. The new landscapes and architecture inspired me. I inherited my mother’s DSLR film camera body and lenses in my early 20’s. As a competitive runner at the time, I took photos of my friends competing in races. Then I did my first wedding for a friend for free in 2003. I remember the adrenaline rush I got after surviving having to change film right before the First Kiss and still getting the shot.

In 2005 I went digital and did a few more weddings here and there, for not much money still. I also sold photos from triathlons and running races, which taught me how to capture fast-moving subjects and more business skills. Everything I made from photography, I put back into it. Then in 2007, I bought professional Nikon gear and decided I could do this as a meaningful job. I launched my website and haven’t looked back. Before going full-time, I was a biologist and part-time gardener.

After my first full summer of weddings in Canada, I followed my now-wife to Australia, who was doing research there for three years. Luckily my business took off quickly there, and in 2009, my second year in business, I did 37 weddings. I also managed to skip experiencing a winter that year, as I came back to Canada for another summer of weddings after Fall in Australia. In 2011 we made Fort Collins, Colorado, our new home, where my wife got a job at Colorado State University. I have now photographed almost 250 weddings.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting my business in three different countries has been an interesting experience. Moving to the US was the hardest adjustment for me as I had to wait a year before I could work. It felt like I had lost all my momentum and had to start from scratch. With the downturn after the recession, my growth was slow and it took about 4-5 years before I felt like my business was more-or-less where I wanted it to be. It seemed so easy the first two times. But this has made me grateful for my couples, who have let me continue doing what I love doing.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
My brand is about outdoor photography for fun-loving, adventurous clients. Mountains have always featured prominently in my wedding work. My first wedding was on a ski hill and we went up the chair lift to the top of the mountain, and I’ve even been skiing myself while taking photos. My goal is to showcase the scenery of the location while still focusing on capturing the clients’ unique personalities. Besides weddings, I also photograph families, high school seniors, events, and business headshots. I am proud of my longevity in an industry where most don’t make it past five years in business. I believe it’s my stand for making a difference in the lives of others that allows me to continue being successful.

Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
Fort Collins has a great community, and there is also a very supportive wedding community. I am currently President of the Fort Collins Wedding Association, and we have been working to make Fort Collins more well-known as a wedding destination. With close access to so many nearby event venues in other places, like Denver and Estes Park, we are ideally located to take advantage of much of what Colorado offers. Fort Collins can still use more venues, which we are seeing happening more and more now.

It used to be relatively easy ten years ago to start a photography business, but now the market is so saturated that even established photographers who are doing great work have to try harder and harder each year just to stay where they are. “Fake it ‘til you make it” doesn’t work much anymore. It does push me to continually learn and grow, however. I would advise anyone who is interested to start by working or volunteering with an experienced photographer and learn the ropes. Photography can be very rewarding, but it is a business and those business skills are becoming more and more important. About 90% of my work time is spent in front of a computer, which seems the opposite of what photography should be like. It’s still fun and rewarding, otherwise I wouldn’t still be here doing this.

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Image Credit:
Mark Creery Photography

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