Dream Awake with Tony Hoffer of Hoffer Photography

I have been waiting to post this little DREAM AWAKE post for so long,
It is like Christmas morning has finally arrived!
Hoffer Photography is one of my favorite photography companies....ever.
I have been "stalking" their website pretty much since the beginning. Tony and his wife, Amy, work together to capture those special moments in life - engagements, weddings, family adventures, fashion and much more.
They provide their talents so we have the luxury to live fully in those moments and have those frozen memories of joy forever.

I almost fell out of my chair when Tony kindly agreed to share his story on how he achieved his dreams. (literally)
It just goes to show not only does this Tony and his amazing wife, Amy, have talent, they are beautiful people ready to help others capture their dreams.

Let's DREAM AWAKE with Tony Hoffer. 

Hello Mr. and Mrs. Hoffer :)
1. How did you get started in photography and has it always been a passion of yours?
We actually sort of started by mistake. Photography was a budding hobby, but not really much of one. The summer I bought my first camera, my mom volunteered me to shoot some senior photos. A few months later Amy's mom volunteered me to shoot a wedding. They went well and out of nowhere we had 7 weddings that first year, 25 the year after that, and have been full time ever since! It definitely wasn't expected at all!

2. I remember when you were just getting started (and you pictures were just as amazing then too), was it always your dream to one day have your own thriving photography business?
Well thanks so much! I'm just glad you're not tired of us. To be honest, no it wasn't a dream at all. It wasn't even a thought really. My family isn't necessarily one of entrepreneurs, so I was happy working my graphic design job and never really thought about having a business. I think this actually helped because I never had any expectations and just let it happen. I think I got lucky, really.

3. Did you ever imagine you would be where you are today? And have you ever sat back and said, "Wow, this is way better than I imagined?"
That's sort of a loaded question. When I started photography, I was looking at some great photographers doing great things and I was in awe. I still am when I see great work. So if anyone ever says something about us 'getting there' it always makes me feel uncomfortable since I mostly don't like my work (that's the self-destructive artist in me) and have really high goals.

But to answer the other question, there have definitely been times when we've just felt so lucky to do what we're doing. One of the most recent was in Germany. We were there to shoot an engagement session and we decided to take a train to the country with no plans of where to go. We found a good place to stop and before we knew it, we were hiking through the German countryside, Alps in the background, with 2 great clients... There were a few times that day that I had to remind myself that I was working. It was amazing. There's definitely a lot of those moments, many of which are way more subtle than that.

4. Photography seems like it can be a cut throat business in regards to competition, did you ever fear you would not make it? Did you have a "back-up" plan?
I never really started with a plan, so my 'back-up' plan was just to keep doing what I was already doing. In that way, there wasn't that much risk. When the business took over, I quit my job.
Photography is quite the competitive business though. I don't know many fields with so many people trying to enter and such a (seemingly) little barrier to enter. It's certainly a great and fun job, but like any job there are tedious and not-fun parts (the schedule for one). Being good at those things is really the key to thriving because a lot of folks don't want to deal with them.   

5. Is there someone in your life that encourages you to chase your passions?
My wife more than anything. Most people view their spouse as the person that holds them back from things, but Amy forces me to branch out. From things like buying new equipment to trying new things, she's always pushing me to expand, which is perfect for me.

6. Many people are nervous to pursue a dream. They fear they might not succeed, don't have time, are not good enough etc. Do you have any words of advice for people who have a dream they want to pursue, but are not sure how to start?
This is interesting to me, so I'll address it in parts..

A. They fear they might not succeed - This is necessary for any successful business or person. If anyone ever tells you they knew they'd succeed because they have (insert good quality here), they're lying. Other people might see that, but the person succeeding never does. It's the fear of failure, inadequacy and just plain sucking that makes us work hard.

B. Don't have time - If it's indeed your dream, there's no chance you'll have the time. But a funny thing happens when you fall in love with something... You make the time. There was a year when I worked my full-time job and worked about 50-60 hours a week on top of that at photography. It was about 6 months at 100 hours a week. It was crazy, but 60 of those hours were really invigorating.

C. Are not good enough - I've stopped trying to convince myself that I'm good enough. As I mentioned earlier, it's much easier for me to convince other people that I'm good enough to shoot for them. If I ever tried to convince myself, I think I'd be depressed. Just go do it! But make sure you're willing to be criticized (and not from your family, they'll never say a bad thing about you!).

7. Any last tid-bits of advice to encourage people to stop dreaming and start acting out their dreams?
Dreams are intimidating because you always see the end of the path before taking your first step. If I was to see a fantastic architect and decide that I wanted to be a world famous architect, I'd likely never start. After all, how does one turn into a world famous architect overnight? But I'd be better off deciding to be a graduate with an architecture degree. The other goals will come along the way. Don't get so caught up in the big picture that you forget about the need for the small one. Chances are that anyone you look up to spent a TON of time and effort in the mundane before anyone ever heard of them.

BONUS QUESTION: This question is just for fun, but how do you always get people to look so natural and in the moment within ALL your photos?Oh, this is the most narcissistic answer possible... but it's the honest one. Some photographers have great eyes that can make a beautiful composition. Others are mathematicians that can calculate the perfect lighting in seconds. Others are simply willing to do what the rest won't. Getting good expressions is like these things, it's a skill. It usually comes from the photographer's personality. Two photographers can be equally skilled, but the nicer person will always have happier looking clients. Always.
Thank you so much, Tony, for taking the time to share your DREAM AWAKE tips with us.
I love the bit about needing to find the time to pursue your dream!
It is amazing and encouraging to see people discovering and then relentlessly pursuing their passion!

Samantha, one of Tony and Amy's first clients, was kind enough to share how much she loved their work:

"Tony and his wife Amy captured every moment perfectly at our wedding. They have an unbelievable amount of creativity and talent and made our entire wedding day one that 
we will never forget."

I know, I know - you want to see the rest of their work!
It took a lot of restrain to not copy/paste all their photos onto this little blog.
Isn't it amazing?
Did you see how they captured those special moments?
The sweet lighting techniques?

I won't hold you up, go and check out their stuff!
They are on Pinterest too!

You want to see them in action:
check it out here.

<3 Shay

P.S. What extra effort can you make today to take a step closer to acting on your 
dream? Did you think of it!  Good, now do it... 

P.P.S. I will share my dreams in a week or two!  


Katie Peterson :
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie Peterson :

I too am a avid "Hoffer Stalker"! Great article and a inspiring story. I love that Amy is such a great partner and inspiration! Don't need to see in an article they have passion though, reflects in every one of their photos. Great advice Section-Looking forward to booking them one day soon!

Emily of The Best of this Life :

Thanks so much for this interview - it's really inspiring! These photographs are just beautiful...so many amazing moments captured in such creative ways. Love it!

Today I wrote in my moleskin a whole bunch of ideas for my blog redesign and added pictures on my pinterest board dedicated to this for even more inspiration. It's my 'right now' dream and I'm working towards it :)

Shay @ The FailteHouse :

Thanks so much for sharing!! Kate, yes, the def. have a passion! Emily, I can't wait to see this blog redesign take place - I will head over now so I can see the change. Good luck!
<3 Shay

Sarah :

HOW in the world was that picture of the couple with the umbrella taken?!!? Or edited!? Cause that is incredble! I just love it!

Shay @ The FailteHouse :

I know Sarah, it is amazing! I am sure you can send him a message and ask...I think it has something to do with extreme back lighting and just plan lovely rain :)

marriedinmilesquarecity :

Sheila, I am glad you wrote this blog! I came across it on Tony's wall :) The Hoffers are such talented photographers, and I am so glad I had the privilege of working with them for my wedding!

I really liked the question you asked about chasing your dreams and overcoming fears. I find myself struggling with the whole process daily. I am glad you are blogging, and hope you're doing well!

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