What is your DWF Username? Michael Allebach
What is your Full Name? Michael Allebach (The Tattooed Bride Photographer)
What is your business Location? West Norriton, Pa (30 minutes outside Philadelphia)
What is your website URL? www.tattooedbride.com
What’s your facebook page URL? www.facebook.com/tattooedbrides
How many years have you been in business? 6 years

Was there life before photography or has this been a lifelong passion for you?
Before photography came graphic arts and web design.  I have always loved the arts but my love developed after I learned that I hated web design.

How did you become a professional photographer?

As a child I loved photography but never even thought of it was a possibility as a profession. Other than national geographic photographers and Sears portrait photographers I didn’t really know that you could get paid to take photos.  In 2000, as graphic artist I got thrown into photography for any product I had to advertise but didn’t have files for (on my Iomega 100 Meg ZIPs) . I had no training, so I went to the internet and learned how to light a wine bottle.  At work I lit everything with a few 500 watt work lamps & white cards. My first digital camera was a Nikon 995 (3 megapixel camera).  I’d print those pictures out at 36″ x 48″ for store signage and it looked really good.  At night I would go to punk rock shows and take pictures of bands and experiment with slide film.  Eventually I started working one day a week at a camera store in addition to my graphic art job.

What’s been your biggest business challenge? How have you faced that challenge?

I market exclusively to tattooed brides who mostly pay for weddings themselves.  Based on survey data their budgets are generally half the national average.  I’ve learned to be flexible and offer half day packages to local brides & grooms who have amazingly original weddings and are extremely easy to work with.  Second photographers who shoot with me comment on the personality of my brides & grooms and how easy it is to work with my tattooed brides.

What’s the most effective way you’ve found to market your studio?

After being a wedding photographer for 2 years I found a niche of tattooed brides. Being in a punk rock band for 4 years and never seeing many wedding photos that looked like people from the punk rock scene I felt I had to jump in. In 2008 I took my first photo of a tattooed friend in a wedding dress. Since then the blogs Offbeat Bride and Rock n Roll bride have exploded.  I think there are many niches still available for photographers.  Finding out what makes you unique and going full force into it can be an unnerving process.  I was initially unsure about putting the photos on my website gallery.  The formula of pushing yourself to take amazing photos, having a great story or niche and wowing your clients is the best marketing plan.

If we needed a photographer today why would we book you? What makes you unique?:

You would book me if you had a certain creative vision or didn’t want to be a “cookie cutter bride.”  Every single wedding I photograph is incredibly unique and my couples feel that they have creative freedom to work with me on their wildest ideas.  When a client comes to me with a creative idea like a fire breathing trash the dress or an engagement session on giant earth moving machinery, they know I will accept their creativity and work on the idea to get it right.

Another thing that I hear at the end of the day from family, the couple or bridesmaids is that I’m not like other wedding photographers they’ve worked with.  They say I add an element of debauchery or excitement to the day (this is before they’ve seen a single image).  What I really do is I allow people to be themselves and invite everyone in.  People feel like they can show off their crazy party side when I’m behind the camera.

What is the one item used in your shooting or editing workflow you can’t live without? What makes it indispensible?

Lightroom.  Before Lightroom, digital was a nightmare. I’ve owned every version since Lightroom Beta.

What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

Most overnight success comes from years of hard work.  Before you charge a single client make sure you have your proper business licenses, pay your taxes, insure your equipment and business.  Most important BACKUP your images online or on DVDs.  If you don’t have all these things in place, one little bit of bad luck could wipe out your business before you get started.

What has the DWF done for your business?

I’ve been a member for over 4 years and I remember how many questions I got answered through reading the forums over the years.  It’s a wonderful place for people to bounce new ideas around in, learn the craft of wedding photography and help others learn the ins and outs.


How do you use the DWF?

Now I mainly use it to keep up with the industry trends and business advice.  I will be the first one to admit that I have so much to learn as a business owner; I’m a marketer, a photographer but not much of an entrepreneur.  I’m always picking up new bits of business advice and business practice. The advice and answers I see on DWF helps me evaluate some of my business decisions.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Fly of course! How badass would that be?

HUGE thank you to Mike Allebach! Want to socialize and check out the best of the best? Hop on the DWF and start chatting! Grab a free trial here.


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