By Raymond Braganza
Before embracing his ambition to become one of the sought-after Filipino sports photographers, Raymond was like most millennials—working for a multi-national company with a fixed schedule. Back then, photography was just something he does on the side. His entrepreneurial and creative pursuit started when a colleague asked him to cover a friend’s wedding together with two other photographer friends.
Today, his self-named business offers photography services for events, including sports photography. In this #AmbitiousTribe article, The After Six Club’s Operations Manager, Raymond Braganza, shares some startup advice for those who want to bring their hobbies to the business arena.
The business side of my photography hobby started way back in 2009. I was then employed with Accenture and photography was just something I do in between corporate life. Then, an officemate asked me if I can get two more photographers to cover his friend’s wedding. I was able to get my friend from high school, Mot Rasay, and my officemate, Ricky Tiu, to shoot the wedding in one of the hotels in Makati. After that first event, I started to accept photography gigs for smaller social events such as birthday parties and baptisms.
I started with my business full-time last June 2014. I decided to name my company after my own name to show transparency and to have that personal feel when working with clients. Raymond Braganza is all about supplying photos for clients. Most of the bookings I receive are for sports photos. Some of my clients, both past and present, include the Philippine Rugby Football Union, Philippine Volcanoes, and Beach Volleyball Republic. I also get bookings for events, both personal and corporate. I’ve taken photos of kiddie birthday parties, baptisms, and weddings.
Most of the time, I work from home. At times, I go to Spaces, a co-working space in Bonifacio Global City, which is the official home of The After Six Club in the Philippines.
What do you believe makes your business stand out?
Honesty. During inquiries, I let the prospective client know if I can’t provide some of the services that they are requesting. I also do the same when I won’t be able to deliver by the agreed due date. Lying to the customer is like shooting yourself in the foot.
How did you obtain capital? Were there investors?
I was able to buy my gear when I got back from a business trip to India. The per diem that I received was my capital for the camera and the lenses that I bought. I also used my back pay when I left HSBC last 2014 as an investment for new lenses.
How did you build your customer base? What form of marketing has been most effective for you so far?
It was word of mouth at first. I was just starting out and the only way people would know is when people refer me to their friends. After a few years, I started a Facebook fan page to be able to widen my reach. More recently, I started boosting my posts on Facebook and Instagram.
What kind of company culture would like to implement? What are your core values?
If my company will grow bigger, I’d like some of my core values to be honesty, efficiency, and positivity. I would like my employees to be honest with their daily transactions, efficient with how they work, and always have a positive outlook in life.
What skills do you believe are necessary in handling a business?
First, you have to have marketing skills. The business will not prosper if one doesn’t know how to put his or herself out there. Second, you need people or social skills. It is very important for a business owner to be knowledgeable in dealing with different kinds of people. Lastly, a person should know how to handle money. Business is not just about earning. It’s about spending and earning money at the right time and at the right amount.
What would you say are some dos and don’ts in starting one?
If you’re currently employed and has started a small business, never, ever leave your day job. Well, not right away at least. It’s important that the influx of money doesn’t stop yet because you are not sure if the business will prosper. If it doesn’t fly, at least you still have your monthly salary to fall back on.
It is important to build a big network or client base. Your friends, relatives, colleagues, past clients, and other people will be the first sources of your income. Referrals help in making a business a big success.
Lastly, always take constructive criticism as it is—constructive criticism. You may not like how it will sound but, for sure, it will help you improve your product or service in the future.
Was there ever a time you felt afraid that this might not work? How did you manage this fear?
I deal with that feeling every day. I always make it a point to never be complacent, to never rest on my laurels. How do I manage with that fear? I talk to my fiancée . I ask her what I can improve on or what business moves I can do to get more clients.
Describe a typical day for you.
A typical day for me usually starts around 9:00 A.M. I always reserve the morning for my TV series. I eat lunch with my mom by 12 NN. And by 1:00 P.M., I either start working when I’m at home or I leave to go to Spaces to work.
I go home by 6:30 P.M. and eat dinner by 7:00 P.M. with my mom, sister, and fiancée. By 8:00 P.M., I work again until 12 MN. After that, I watch TV again and then sleep around 2:00 A.M.
What sacrifices have you had to make to get here?
Sleep is one. Being a supplier of photos, there are times that events end around 12 MN or 1:00 A.M. It’s hard but it’s part of events coverage to go home late. Post processing also takes time and unfortunately, time for sleep lessens. I’ve also passed up on my other hobby, collecting Funko Pops. I know I have much to improve on in terms of gear so I have to stop myself from buying vinyl figurines and use the money to buy lenses.
What can you consider is your greatest success?
My greatest success would be getting the account of Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) and the Philippine Volcanoes. PRFU and the Volcanoes participate in international level games so people from different parts of the world would get to see my work as a sports photographer.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Before becoming a freelance photographer, I’ve always been an employee. I’ve always had this fixed schedule every day. When I started working on my own, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of handling my own time and fixing my own schedule.
What motivates you?
The need to improve. I’ll never be the perfect photographer but I always strive to be better every day. Whether it’s the way of taking photos or how to improve my post-processing workflow, the need to improve is always present. As I said, I never want to feel complacent.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My parents. They’ve worked so hard their entire lives that I wanted to give back by showing that I can be successful in what I do.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
My goal is to be the go-to guy for sports photography, not just here in the country but around the world. I haven’t heard of any Filipino sports photographer that is well known in his craft. I want to be the first one to showcase Filipino talent all over the world.
What piece of advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never give up. Putting up a business will never be easy. There will always be challenging times ahead. But with the help of mentors and friends, it will be easier.
Edits: Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla | Image Credit: Raymond Braganza Photography, Alex Manalang
Raymond has been in photography for 11 years and 5 years of those, he has been a full-time photographer. His photography journey started back in 2008 when he joined Accenture Photography Club, a group started by Accenture employees as part of their work-life balance. He recently became a member of Canon Professional Services (CPS). His works appeared in several websites and print media like Manila Bulletin, ABS-CBN News Online (Hotel/Restaurant Reviews), and Lifestyle Asia.