We had the good fortune of connecting with Phillip and Eileen Blume and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Phillip and Eileen, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
We like to say the success of the “Blume” brands (from our first photography studio near Atlanta to our now worldwide network of photographers and educational products) has really grown up in a mixture of “story and service.” The fact that we create photographs and videos is just a logistical detail about our business. But the soil that has nourished our growth over 13 years and made us a Bulldog 100 Fastest Growing Business consists in our mantra “People first.” Photographers are everywhere. You can probably name half a dozen aspiring photographers you know personally. As a newlywed couple, we began our story the same way — trying to eke out a living as wedding photographers in the over-saturated market. After two years hustling and hyper-focused on “success,” our only achievements were a strained marriage, overdue rent, and neglected relationships. Our health suffered as well, and that year we experienced the loss of our first baby to miscarriage. Our pursuit “to have it all” left us broken. We knew we had to step back and re-focus our life’s Vision on something bigger. Not just profits. Not just pretty pictures. So we (rather irresponsibly) took what meager savings we had left and flew to Guatemala to help a little-known organization that helps boys escape gang culture and earn an education. Our goal was to film a five-minute promo video for the organization. Instead, the story was so inspiring, our efforts ended in a feature documentary film, “Lost Boys of Paradise,” which we traveled the country with to share the story and raise support for this life-changing work! While the proceeds from that personal project aided the non-profit organization, we earned something even better: A bone-deep understanding about the kind of stories we wanted to use our business and lives to tell. We would still photograph beautiful weddings and portraits to help families celebrate life’s true blessings. But we would now treat our business as a fundraising arm for our personal projects, too, to support the many unsung heroes who quietly work to transform our world every day! People, it turns out, resonated with our new Vision. And as an unanticipated consequence, we now work with many clients around the world who’ve discovered us through our personal work and love to support it alongside us.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As wedding and portrait photographers, our work focuses on authentic personalities and relationships. What’s more important than that?! Because our goal as a full-service studio is to help families create truly timeless portraits that will forever keep their love on display at the center of their beautiful homes, we guide them through a process that helps us represent their very best qualities. As parents ourselves, we want children who grow up looking at their portraits to be reminded of the naturalness, security, and joy they receive from their families on the very best days! Probably 90 percent of the work we do is spent learning about our clients, serving them, pre-planning shoots, hand-building art pieces, or helping couples schedule a perfectly relaxed wedding day; but the 10% of our work that consists in actually photographing our subjects becomes an experience beyond description as a result!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We get a lot of out-of-town guests at our studio — from fellow photographers flying in for workshops, to camera equipment reps, and even destination wedding couples who visit for all-out home design sessions that bring their home to life with personal artwork! Anytime we have visitors, we like to show off iconic Atlanta with an impressive visit to the Georgia Aquarium and Coca-Cola Museum, followed by a relaxing walk (and maybe live music!) around Centennial Olympic Park. Of course, many of our photographer friends want to set up a visit to the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) headquarters in midtown or the offices of ShootProof (world-famous photographer software company) while they’re in town. At the end of a long day in Atlanta, our favorite way to wind down is with a meal at Empire State South or a coffee at the amazing Taproom Coffee in Kirkwood.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We owe so much to Nathan and Claudia Hardeman, the founders of Engadi Ministries in Guatemala. In 2011 we first aimed our cameras on the selfless work they’ve been doing for decades. Their passion to help impoverished kids find hope against all odds continues today, and it inspires us to get up and work for something bigger. We also owe so much to our business coaches and mentors of the past decade. We learned early that our biggest business investment must be in personal self-improvement and education. Dedicating ourselves to a process through coaching is the only way we are able to rise above our limiting beliefs and, as a result, achieve both financial and intangible success.
© Blume Photography