Bellingham Photographer: Caylie Mash

This months BossLady will bring a smile to anyone's face, she is the perfect balance of a professional who gets the job done properly and the sweet soul with the heart of gold who just wants to make her clients happy. So everyone, please welcome to the BossLady family, Bellingham photographer Caylie Mash! 

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Caylie's awesome second shooter Vinny took these beautiful photos of her, but if you would like to see a full representation of her work, please go check out her website by clicking HERE. ALSO, can we just take a moment to appreciate this gold dress?? Right up our alley! ;)  

Caylie Mash Photography 

Please tell us a little about your company and what your focus is! 

I’m a wedding and engagement photographer based in Bellingham, Washington.  It took a few years to find my focus, but it’s so clear to me now that working with couples and being surrounded by love makes me so happy.  Engagements allow me to get to know my couples in a lighthearted, stress-free way, and then after months of emails and meetings, it’s so exciting to watch their wedding day finally come together!  If they decide to have kids, I often get to capture their first professional photos—not as a couple—but as a little family.  This is the best job!

My partner Vinny assists at my weddings, too, and he’s especially great with candids and detail shots.  We make a great team and I’m hoping that my photography business will grow to become our photography business.

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    I’ve been passionate about photos since elementary school, when my mom let me play around with her point-and-shoot film camera at home and on field trips.  The overwhelming support and compliments from my family inspired me to do a “passion project” about photography in junior high.  As a senior in high school, I chose portrait photography as my culminating project, and suddenly friends and classmates were asking me to take their senior portraits. I couldn’t believe it at first, but then I improved so quickly and just fell in love with portraits!  My class adviser pushed me to do a few weddings, and to my surprise, I ended up loving that, too.  After a couple years of practice, I started Caylie Mash Photography, and I’ve been refining my business and growing as a photographer ever since.

What do you feel is unique about your business?

    These things aren’t necessarily unique, but they’re true to who I am!  I put a lot of love into my packaging.  Even print orders, which I could easily auto-fulfill (my lab can automatically ship directly to clients), are delivered to my door so I can wrap them up, write a thank you note, and drive them over to the post office.  It takes extra time and a little extra money, but it brings me joy and I think my clients feel that, too.

    Working with my partner at weddings is a little unique, too. Vinny has such a creative eye, and he’s good at giving me honest feedback that makes our photos better. I’ve looked up to Joe & Patience, husband and wife photographers in Bellingham, for years.  I’m really inspired by their work, and they’ve been nothing but kind and helpful to us. They recently took our photos, and working with them both was such a great experience!  I’d love to be able to provide that for our clients, and for Vinny and I to eventually work together as a full-time photography team.

What are some big trends you are seeing right now and how can we incorporate them into our everyday lives? 

    This is a trend I’d like for us to move away from, actually.  I can’t tell you how many photos have been ruined by a guest trying to photograph the wedding with a cell phone, iPad, or large professional camera.  Though their intentions are usually good, it makes me so sad.  These couples spend a couple thousand dollars on a photographer they have carefully decided to trust with their quality wedding photos, and the immediate focus of the photographs are the devices that should have been tucked away.  Their family and friends have had this date on the calendar for a year, they’ve flown in from several states away, and they’re watching the couple’s favorite day through a screen instead of being present.  Unplugged weddings are my favorite and I can’t encourage them enough!  They take extra preparation, but it’s worth it.

What is a hardship or challenge you have had to overcome and how did you handle that?

    I graduated with my degree in Human Services this year, and it was difficult to balance full time school, two to three jobs, and a photography business.  It was often a struggle to decide whether homework, editing, or sleep was more important.  I was lucky to get what you could call my “big kid job” a couple months before I graduated, but I was also in the middle of my last quarter, a culminating project, thousands photos, and I had no time.

I’m really conscious about my time now and don’t take on more than I can handle.

    I work for an amazing agency that supports foster youth.  Most days I look forward to going to work, and some days it’s just so hard.  On those days, I give myself the day off of editing for some much needed self-care.  I’m passionate about working with foster youth, and I’m passionate about photography, and I really lucked out that I’m able to do both.  I thrive on variety, and this is the perfect combination to keep me balanced.  I visit my family in Kirkland every month or two (often fitting in a portrait session for previous clients while I’m there), and we text almost every day.  Vinny and I always find time to sit down and watch our favorite shows or go on a late-night adventure in search of chocolate.  The s’more crepe from AB Crepes is our favorite!

If you could give someone starting their own business any advice what would it be?

Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to turn down business if it doesn’t match your long-term goals.  Like many photographers, I started out doing anything and everything—families, newborns, seniors, headshots, etc—and I have finally decided that weddings and engagements are what make me the happiest.  Make friends with other small business owners and refer inquiring clients to them if the opportunity isn’t your thing.  Everyone wins!  

Meet up with other small business owners often and enjoy the inspiration and collaboration too!

Additionally, hire an accountant!  Sara Greenleaf from Greenleaf Bookkeeping and Accounting is incredible!  In 2015 I worked four jobs (mostly all at the same time!) and officially launched my business.  On top of that, I was a full time student and knew nothing about accounting.  I brought my spreadsheets, receipts, and a to-go bag of Fiamma, and Sara had all of my taxes done in an hour.  It was cheap and I received a big tax return that wouldn’t have happened without Sara’s knowledge and experience.  I can’t recommend her enough!

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