It’s so refreshing to meet people who act as if the only thing coming between them and their dreams is a plan.
Dmitry and Victoria Fedotov built a photography business serving some of the world’s wealthiest people by being clear about their goals and plans, by going the extra mile for their clients … and by shutting out the voices inside that say it can’t be done.
Read on for the short story, or click here to listen to my conversation with Dimitry.
Dmitry and Vika met while they were studying power station engineering. Dmitry's parents were poor, so when they gave him a Minolta digital camera he saw it as a way to make money while he studied. It was hard work for little money shooting pictures at Moscow night clubs, on the streets, and for a school project — a steep learning curve too. But it led to stints shooting celebs for a web agency, runway models for Moscow fashion week, and the likes of Putin and Medveyedev for ITAR-TASS. All this while studying and later working full time.
Then in 2008 Vika became pregnant and Dmitry's employer went bankrupt, and they faced a choice. Look for a new job or go with photography?
Dmitry didn’t like the photography he was doing. It didn’t pay well and there was “no art in it”. But he’d earned the equivalent of a hundred US dollars shooting a wedding for a friend, and he calculated that even at that rate shooting two weddings a week would earn them the same as a full time job in the power industry.
So photography it was, and time to work on their business philosophy. Dmitry describes their work as “documentary” but not “photojournalism”. Photojournalism is about “who" and “where", but wedding photography also has to answer “why”.
They decided to begin by charging $1000 per wedding, and went looking for clients who understood what they were doing and why they were doing it.
Their clients may be "big people with big problems”, but the fact that the handbag is Hermès and the car a Maybach doesn’t change what Dmitry believes is the photographer’s primary job — to display not their wealth but the intimate relationship between the bride and groom. A great photo should be a window looking into the whole wedding day, and into that special relationship.
Sometimes it’s hard for outsiders to understand why a photo is beautiful, he says. Because it wasn’t shot for them, it was shot for the clients, who do understand.
With the same “nothing’s impossible” attitude that he and Vika bring to their business, Dmitry has written a wedding photography guide with support and photography by Joe Biussink, Marcus Bell, Jose Villa, Jeff Ascough, Yervant, Cristiano Ostinelli, Daniel Aguilar, Samo Rovan, Franck Boutonnet, David Beckstead, Emin Kuliyev and many more too numerous to mention. And we're pleased to say he's allowing our readers to download it for free.