Photographer and HoneyBook member India Earl was recently named one of the best wedding photographers by BRIDES magazine. Her Instagram feed is a steady stream of imaginative images (it’s no wonder she has 275K followers). But what we love most about India is how much she prioritizes being able to give back and serve others, even if that’s something as simple as baking cookies for her neighbors. We got to hang out with her for a day, filming a video on her and her business. Here she shares why she doesn’t follow trends, how she gets the perfect shot and how she saved seven hours a day using HoneyBook. Keep reading and watch the video to learn more about one of the most inspirational creatives around.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m India; I’m a 22-year-old destination wedding photographer. I’m based in Utah. I’m married to the weirdest, most amazing person I’ve ever met. His name is Jay, and he’s a videographer. We live in Salt Lake City, and we have two dogs that I basically worship. We love to garden – okay, I love to garden– skydive and go outdoor climbing. I’ve been shooting for five years. I’m really passionate about photography because of the people I get to meet and the places I get to go. It’s my way of being able to connect with those people and create something that makes them happy and brings them joy for years and years to come.
What advice would you give yourself when you first started out?
Starting out five years ago, I really wish I knew to not follow trends and to stop caring about what everyone else was doing so much. Shooting and creating things that you’re actually passionate about and doing it in your own way will take your business so much further. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing to keep up, you’re only going to blend in.
If you’re doing what everyone else is doing to keep up, you’re only going to blend in.
Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever had a shoot?
The first one that comes to mind would probably be when we were in Morocco. We were out camping in the Great Sahara, which was so freaking cool, but it was so, so freaking hot and windy. I’ve never experienced hot wind before. We walked up to the top of the sand dune. They’re so misleading because they’re ginormous, and they look really small from the bottom. So we’re sweating and walking up in the heat. It’s so windy, so we’re getting blasted with sand like crazy. We’re shooting on top of the dune, and it was so beautiful, but the sand was literally cutting us because it was blowing so hard. All of us were like, “ow, ow, ow, ow, ow,” while I was shooting. We were laughing during it, but afterwards, we were blowing our noses and having sand come out for two days. So much sand in between my teeth, inside my camera. I learned that I always need to take a bag or a shirt to wrap around my camera just in case of crazy weather.
What has been the biggest challenge of running your own business? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has probably been finding balance between business and personal life because I do love business and photography so much. They’re hard to separate when you work for yourself. When you’re a business owner, you’re not working 40 hours a week. You’re working 70-80 hours a week. Sometimes it’s hard to turn that mindset off and just be present with your friends and family or take time to do things for yourself. I find balance by limiting how much I travel and how many weddings I take on. I realized that whenever I say yes to an inquiry, I’m also saying a big fat no to being home baking cookies or working in our garden or going on a family vacation or having a game night with our friends. Learning to say no has been one of the hardest things for me but it’s also been one of the best things. I’m so much happier now having figured out how to make that balance in my life.
I realized that whenever I say yes to an inquiry, I’m also saying a big fat no to being home baking cookies or working in our garden […]. Learning to say no has been one of the hardest things for me but it’s also been one of the best things.
What’s been your most viral photo?
Probably the time I shot my best friends getting engaged. We set up the proposal in a climbing gym in the little college town we lived in and strung up lights. She did the climb without knowing that we were doing that. When she got to the top, we flipped off the lights, and he lowered her down. As she stood back down on the ground, he got down on one knee. It was just such a cute photo. So it was probably that one, or the time I shot a celebrity wedding a couple of years ago. She’s one of the “Dancing with the Stars” girls. People are obsessed with her, so those photos went pretty viral, too.
What does curation vs. transparency on Instagram mean to you?
I feel like I’m always trying to be as transparent as I can rather than glamorize my business or who I am in any sort of way. Always showing my personality and being myself is really important so that I know the people reaching out to me are okay with who I am rather than being flabbergasted that I show up to shoot their wedding in Vans, ripped jeans and a tank top. I would rather have people hire me who are attracted to that kind of stuff rather than people who think I have it together all the time.
Always showing my personality and being myself is really important so that I know the people reaching out to me are okay with who I am rather than being flabbergasted that I show up to shoot their wedding in Vans, ripped jeans and a tank top.
What’s one funny/quirky thing you do while working, either on a shoot or while working from home?
When I’m shooting, I have really insane energy and try to scare or confuse people so that their only reaction they can do is laugh. I’ll try to be normal and say, “Okay, get in really, really close… all right, just pull each other closer… okay, now just lick her eyelids! Yes, perfect. Okay, now bite her! Okay, now push her away! Now grab her back! Push her away again! Okay, now jump on him!” I start just screaming at them. They’re probably like “Who is this strange girl that’s taking our photo?” When I’m trying to make a fool of myself, it makes them feel better about themselves. It’s the way I get my best work. There’s no expectations or anything like that.
When I’m trying to make a fool of myself, it makes them feel better about themselves. It’s the way I get my best work.
How has HoneyBook helped you?
For a long time I was working a full time job just answering emails and doing invoicing and spreadsheets. I would seriously work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. just doing that stuff. And then when I would have extra time, then I would edit. I just realized that’s so messed up. That’s not what I’m made to do, and I need something to help me. So when I found HoneyBook, it was really cool. I learned how you can automate everything, and that was the biggest game changer for me because I was spending so much time writing out every single email and clicking send on every single contract. It was so disorganized. Once I was able to get all my emails, all my contracts, all my templates, all my invoicing – all my information – in one place that was so cool. I realized I had saved so much time. Instead of working eight hours a day doing all that crap, I was working one hour a day. I was able to focus on my editing, shooting and planning things out that I was really excited about rather than just doing all the nitty gritty business stuff. It took care of all that for me. I was like, “This is so freaking worth it.” Everyone needs this. It’s such a business/sanity lifesaver.
Everyone needs this. It’s such a business/sanity lifesaver.
Thanks so much, India!