Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 15 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2014 with a major in Music Business. Principal Instrument: drums.
Position: Wedding photographer at 21Summit Studios, his own company. It’s a one-man operation, though Ben hires contractors both to help photograph weddings and to edit the photos/video afterward. He does roughly 30 weddings per year, nearly all of them in the late spring through early fall. His company is represented by the agency Entertainment Specialists, and gets most business either through them or through popular wedding sites The Knot or Wedding Wire.
Ben also has a side job, teaching part-time at Berklee, where he was hired to teach immediately after graduation. He teaches 3 sections of MTI-309, where he teaches students how to shoot and make good music videos.
Overview: In high school, Ben shot videos for friends’ bands and did his own video, Empty School, which went viral. He came to Berklee intending to have a career making music videos. By the end of his first year he was charging $1,500 to put together music videos for bands. By the end of his second year, he was shooting videos for the college, first as a work-study student and later through his own company.
Throughout Berklee, Ben was friends with an older student, who had great success with a wedding band, starting a multi-band company. Around the time he finished Berklee Ben went to weddings to photograph/video these other bands in action and while there he observed the wedding photographers. He quickly decided he wanted to do that–wedding work paid well while allowing for free time, and he felt he could do an excellent job. His friend started recommending him as a photographer and introduced him to their agency Entertainment Specialists. Ben put together a professional-level website and business started happening.
You can see Ben’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “90% of the work I do is prior to the wedding day, 9% on the day, and 1% afterward. Most of the work is communicating with clients and figuring out all the logistical details.”
The friendships and people I knew through Berklee was almost worth all that tuition on their own. All I’m doing today is because I knew the right people, and everyone I’ve hired have been through connections. It takes effort, but keep those relationships open, care about people, ask them what’s going on and let them shine and know where they’re shining. So that you can reach out to them if they’re in a position to help you. ”
“Be sure to focus enough on how you present yourself to the client. If you have a simple website with good content and you make it easy for people to say yes, you’ll be surprised as to how many gigs come about. Also, many new photographers charge too little in the hope that it’ll make them competitive. If you saw a Mercedes Benz in a car lot selling for $2,000 you’d assume there was something wrong with it. But if you saw the car for $35K, you might figure that was reasonable.”
Ben as a Berklee student. “As musicians, you have to sit in a practice room by yourself and come to the performance ready to go, and you’re going to get flak from others if you don’t know your part. In some cultures it’s almost cool not to do well in that liberal arts classes, but in music you have to deliver! That was great practice for running my own business.”
“It feels a bit unusual not be in the industry (music) that I really love, but the wedding industry made sense to me becuause I have enough time to work on my other passions. That extra time is more of a benefit to work on my passion projects–building computers, growing plants, writing music.” (and sometimes lying on the beach). Ben’s has a self-described healthy relationship with music, working on an album and experimenting with electronic music while not relying on music for income.
Ben with one of his cameras. “In the wedding industry, I’m still a small fish. But here I am.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.