Mission: To encourage hobbyists and budding entrepreneurs to enhance their photography and turn their passions into a sustainable living.​

Most photographers make excuses that their photography isn't good enough to sell. Sometimes there is a bit of truth in it, but that mentality stops people from advancing. I want to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and improve. There is a lot to learn and I want to make that learning process easier.


- Virak

VIRAK CHHANG

FOUNDER

My interest in images started because of one image taken on Halloween night. The camera came along to document the night but an impromptu photo shoot took place instead. One staged photo in particular became popular among my friends and they suggested I focus my eye on photography.

This is my message to you: Start now.

Get out of the mindset that you need to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on photo equipment to produce good images. Heck, get out of the mindset that you need to produce good images to get business.

PhotoFestDC was started for two major reasons:


- There is a lot of free information on the internet but it is not organized nor is it easy for a new photographer to comprehend. Courses are designed to build knowledge and understanding in a paced manner.

- Photography is a dying business. It's not dying because the demand is lower (it's actually increased). It's dying because good photographers don't always make wise business decisions.

- Ok third reason... Photographers that price themselves too low ruin the market. I make good money because I know how to ask for it. I cannot however, compete with talented photographers that charge $10 for a headshot.

HOW I STARTED


Sign up and attend these courses and I will start you on the path of turning your photography into a career!

-Virak Chhang, Founder of PhotoFestDC

The lady of a previous relationship was a photographer and I used to follow her around on photo shoots. She was a quiet girl and I was the loud one (a disaster in the making). During a wedding shoot I stepped in when tensions rose and the group asked how they should stand. Directing everyone was actually a lot of fun for me.

Eventually we went our separate ways but I didn't have her expensive DSLR camera to play around with anymore. I ended up buying a pocket camera (5.1 mp Song Cybershot) because it did video, too.


Otis, a good friend of mine was a film maker and he inspired me to produce short films. He taught me how to use software to edit video and I was hooked from day one. My pocket camera wasn't good enough so I purchased a 12mp Panasonic FZ-50 to create more short films.

The process was fun and I used the camera to document a home improvement project (Project Mom-Cave):

MARCH 4, 2017

PhotoDC

My friend, Tania agreed to do my first official photo shoot and this was the result.

There are no edits (other than the watermark) and the photo is otherwise straight-from camera. I was so proud I was able to produce this image that I wanted to shoot more!

And I did. For years I shot with the same Canon T3i - a consumer camera that one can buy at Wal-mart. 

​I was even able to add the "blurry effect" in my first 'major' short film:

Although I used the camera primarily for video I decided to take photos, too because after all... it IS a camera! There was one look I was trying to get - THE BLURRY BACKGROUND! I didn't understand how people did it so I searched on Google.

Aperture. Depth of Field. Bokeh. WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?

Maybe I needed more expensive equipment? I went out and purchased a Canon T3i with a kit lens. It didn't work. Eventually I just went to the store owner and told him to sell me anything that would give the blurry effect and he sold me an 85mm 1.8 lens. I produced another shot film and got the blurry focus as I wanted it:

My photo career grew. I shot for the Washington Redskins. I shot for America's Top Model Auditions.I shot for clothing lines. I shot weddings. People paid me good money to take photos.

And I did it all with a $300 investment on craigslist.

​"I'm a DC-area based portrait photographer. Because of my involvement with the dance community most of my work has lately been with dancers.

There so much I have left to learn about photography and videography. There are photographers that I admire and still strive everyday to improve.

I've taken my 20 years of sales experience and applied them to photography and now make a comfortable living doing what I love."

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Studying and practicing is important. When I learned about lighting the game started to change.

The photo of my singer friend, Joy, is one of my favorites because it was taken with my 4-year old cheap camera. No Photoshop or any post-production was made. I literally uploaded it to the internet within 5 minutes of taking this image.

Upgrading my T3i to a full-frame was a hard decision. I was proud of the images I produced with little money invested.