Entrepreneur Spotlight: Maria Sharp of Maria Sharp Photography
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and if that’s the case, no one helps tell the story of E!C better than the incredible photographers we partner with year-round. We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and work with so many of these talented and successful young professionals around our city whether they’re capturing photos of YPs going behind-the-scenes at the newest local business or C-Level executives sharing their most impactful advice at a panel event.
In our latest post, we had the opportunity to catch up with one of our incredibly talented and ice cream-loving photographers, Maria Sharp. Maria shared her experience starting her own business in Cleveland, the lessons she’s learn along the way and what advice she has for young professionals no matter if they’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur themselves or just finding meaning in our city doing what they love.
Q: Can you tell me about a little about yourself and what you do?
A: I’m Maria Sharp, a big fan of Cleveland and ice cream. I own a photography business and specialize in weddings.
Q: How long have you lived in Cleveland?
A: I grew up on the west side of Cleveland, left for college in Rochester, NY and moved back after.
Q: What made you want to start your own business and how long have you been in business?
A: I enjoyed creating an experience for my couples. I loved getting to know them and making work that was specific to them. It’s hard to do that when you don’t work for yourself. I’ve been in business for 6 years now!
Q: Can you describe your experience with starting the business in Cleveland?
A: Networking was everything! I met a bunch of photographers from cold emailing and then joined a networking group. That group gave me referrals, second shooting gigs, and a part time job when I was starting out. I didn’t learn the ins and outs of running a business in college, so I learned everything from the established photographers willing to share their knowledge. It was essential to starting and growing my business.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from running your own business?
A: Perspective is important. Not every day is going to be rainbows and butterflies. Weddings are super stressful and can be a little repetitive. Once I shifted my perspective to be 100% about the couple and not about their wedding details, my work and my business improved. I established better relationships with my couples beforehand and therefore created more genuine work.
Q: What advice would you give to a YP who is thinking of starting his or her own business?
A: Evaluate the market. Is there a need for it? How long will it be before you make a profit? It is super rewarding to own your own business, but I think there are so many challenges that are often overlooked. That being said, if you really want to do something, take the leap!
Q: What’s the best part about your business and what you do?
A: Making friends with my couples is by far my favorite part.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from your work?
A: I love photographing weddings that my past couples attend or are in. It means the world to me when my couples refer me to their friends and family. This year I photographed a wedding of a bridesmaid from 2016, who was also a maid of honor in 2017. It was so exciting to finally photograph her wedding after she’d been in two of my weddings!
Q: What do you love about being a young professional in Cleveland?
A: Everyone is so friendly and accessible. You can email anyone to pick their brain or meet a peer and bond over your favorite restaurant.
Q: What are your top 5 Cleveland restaurants or ice cream shops?
A: I can’t pick between the two!
4. Mason’s Creamery
5. Mitchell’s Ice Cream