Photo by Crystal Tran
Unpacking his school backpack, junior Scout Wampler quickly begins to pack another bag with cameras, memory cards, and lenses. Once packed and homework done, Wampler is now ready to go shoot a wedding for his client.
Wampler is the youngest photographer in the Richmond area. His business Scout Photography has already been successful, shooting mainly with weddings, portraits, concerts, and real estate, He’s rated 5 out of 5 stars on google.
People find their interests in various ways. Wampler found his through trial and error.
“I was inspired to do photography mainly because I’ve always been a creative person,” he said. “Somehow, I’m not very good at drawing, so I don’t have that creative outlet for me. And I’m not the best writer, but I still have this creative energy. I tried every channel and some I didn’t succeed in, so I finally found out that I could channel this energy into photography.”
Unlike most people, especially during their high school years, Wampler decided to turn what some may call a hobby into a business.
“I realized that there’s a high demand for quality photos, especially right now,” he said. “ A lot of people take photos on their cellphones, and using a camera is common knowledge nowadays. But, there’s also a big loss of quality, so while there is availability, there’s also not much quality.”
However, photography at a professional level comes at a price.
“My family has had to support me a lot, specifically financially,” Wampler said. “ Everything photo-wise is so expensive, even if you check online. I’ve had to have my parents buy a lot of things that I’ve slowly had to pay back over time. I had to market to them that it was an investment. It definitely took time. It was a combination of birthday, Christmas, all of the holidays.”
Starting a new business is always exciting, but it’s inevitable to have some negative thoughts.
“I had fears that my peers weren’t going to really support it,” Wampler said. “ While it is important to have adults that support you, if my friends aren’t on the same page that I am, and if they don’t realize that it’s going to make me a little busier, or if they don’t realize that sometimes I am going to have to be a little more stressed out because I do have this going on. That was my biggest concern that my friends weren’t going to support me, but luckily they have and if anything they’ve been my biggest motivators for finding more clients.”
The world of photography is extremely competitive and constantly changing. It becomes easy to compare businesses against each other.
“My biggest complication is that I see a lot of things online, lots of gear, lots of equipment, and thinking that it holds me back that I don’t have that gear,” Wampler said. “But, in reality, that’s not true. So many photographers tell you ‘you don’t need the nicest stuff,’ ‘you don’t need the nicest equipment’ and I’ve had to learn that myself because I have made a few investments and purchasing when looking back, was it necessary? Probably not. I definitely had to realize that it’s not necessarily your own camera gear that holds you back. It’s your own creative direction.”
Wampler went to the STARTed up foundation to pitch his photography company, he would end up winning $250 to put towards his business.
“I knew that I had to go to the STARTed up foundation because not only am I looking for the support, but I had so many questions,” he said. “I knew that if I had the support of people like Mr. Schamel, that could provide, me with these answers and get me into communication with these other adults that I could get the help I was looking for.”
Not knowing exactly what to expect, Wampler was slightly taken back when he first arrived at the foundation.
“Once I was there I realized that the competition and stakes were pretty high because everybody there is incredibly smart,” he said. “I was confident with myself and confident with my business. I wasn’t expecting to win anything, I was expecting to grow. I did it more like a ‘this would be a good learning experience,’ not as an ‘oh there’s a chance I could possibly win money to help my business,’ so I was pretty surprised.”
Being able to use that money to better his business has already helped in certain purchases and just overall bettering his photography overall.
“In our garage, in the backyard, I just purchased a new backdrop that I’m going to put in there,” Wampler said. “It’s actually arriving today. I’m very excited to go home and see that. Really the biggest thing is that while it is a garage and while it is something like that, I realize that all these people that support me, they don’t care, they want to see me growing and improving. If they can see that [I’m improving], then they don’t care where I’m at shooting. They just want me to do well as a business person.”
Wampler enjoys photography, but just as anybody else, there are some parts of the craft he finds more enjoyable.
“My favorite thing to shoot is probably weddings,” he said. “The energy is very high on wedding days, but it also makes for beautiful photos. When you’re dealing with a bride and groom, they’re so nervous, all of the emotions you’re capturing are pure. Like when you’re capturing senior portraits or something like that. You’re struggling to find the emotion, but you’re guaranteed to see some form of this at a wedding.”
With that being said, nothing is perfect and photography is no different.
“My least favorite part about photography is that I love to edit, but I am ridiculous about the process,” Wampler said. “I over analyze every single photo. Where something should take me only 2 or 3 hours to edit for a whole batch, It’s common for me to spend about 4 or 5 hours because I’ll over analyze photos. I love to ask my family for their advice and if they don’t realize something that I did, I get really upset.”
No two people are alike in their taste/style which can cause some dissatisfaction. Criticism is all part of the job and Wampler tries to turn the negative into a positive.
“There have been a few forms of criticism,” Wampler said. “I think it’s because of my age. People don’t always see me as a business person, even though I’m fairly established. I faced not to say criticism, but more of skepticism. I’ve had to prove myself and that’s been one thing that I’ve not loved. Having to prove myself as capable despite having a large and growing portfolio that grows every week. Embracing that, once people realize that I am capable, age is a good thing. People like seeing a young person. They want to see somebody that’s doing well at a young age. Once they get past that area of their mind, that ‘oh he is 17.’”
Wampler believes that there is always room for improvement in all aspects of his life.
“I feel grateful because I realized that there are so many adults that have supported me and so many community members that have helped me grow as a business person,” he said. “I realized there’s so much room for improvement. That’s one thing I focus on, is never stopping my personal growth as well as my business growth. While I do think it’s done well [his photography business]. There is a big future ahead for my business.”
To anyone interested in photography or starting a similar business, he encourages people to take a look at the many opportunities that they may not know can actually help them.
“Number one, I think everybody should take the photography class or yearbook,” Wampler said. “So you can get practice using a camera while you’re in school. Honestly, that’s helped me so much and I’ve learned so much through that. The next thing, don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to face criticism because it’s going to happen, and I don’t do amazing taking that, but if anything it’s helping me grow. Don’t be afraid of people doubting.”
Above everything else and all the changes him and his business have gone through, the spirit of Wampler’s photography business has always stayed the same.
“One thing about taking photos for people,” he said. “It’s not just that I’m taking them, I’m keeping the memories for these people that are so important. Especially in our modern world, we just kind of assume that we’re going to remember everything because we have instant gratification. We can take a photo on our cellphones and save memories there, but what people don’t realize is that that’s only part of it. Unless you have somebody that can really capture the moment and the essence, these are all going to be memories and they’re all going to be gone in the future. I feel like It’s my job to make things more special for people.”
If you’re interested in getting photographed by Scout Wampler, you can see his work and contact him through these links:
Email: [email protected]