Photography has been a large part of Aubrey Jonsson’s life since 1991.
With his main office in Johannesburg and an agent in Cape Town, a true professional needs the right equipment in the right place, at the right time. With 30 storage facilities countrywide, and ACT Logistics to move equipment between locations, XtraSpace is here to help entrepreneurs like Aubrey follow their dreams.
Aubrey has had some incredible life experiences as a photographer. From free-diving with world champions in France and snowboarding in the Alps to attending star-studded events in London, getting the ‘hero’ shot is never easy, but the journey is always worth it.
Aubrey was driven by wanting to succeed as a commercial photographer. “It is such a tough industry that the drop-out rate is super high, and that drove me to work as hard as I could.
“My love of photography goes through stages and you seem to love shooting what is relevant to you at that time in your life,” he adds. “I find my inspiration in everyday life. Seeing other people succeed in what they love is the greatest inspiration to me.”
He fell in love with photographer as a young boy. “My dad got me interested in photography from an early age. He had a dark room at the house and we would spend hours in there, printing black and white prints together,” he recalls.
His photography business was started as matter of necessity. “As a photographer running my own business, I had more control over what and where I wanted to shoot,” he says. “I started to market myself to potential clients. It was very hard at first, however once I started to build relationships, it all started to come together for me.”
Aubrey says his biggest challenge was building a network of clients to support his business. To make this work and to keep them satisfied, he had to “provide an honest, reliable and fair service” to his customers.
His business grew slowly, “until it became exponential and reputation based”. As so many entrepreneurs know to be a cold, hard fact, “the better your reputation the more work one can get”.
His is not an easy business either. With so many photographers being retrenched from media companies, it’s tough out there.
“The photography world is highly competitive and there are always new players to the game,” Aubrey agrees. “The best way to stand out is through the quality of your work and your customer service.”
But he’s convinced entrepreneurs and their small to medium businesses are vital not just in South Africa, but all around the world. And he’s optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship, particularly because of the blandness of globalisation.
“I think that it is really important not only in South Africa but globally. I know that people want to deal with a face and a name instead of just another number in the food chain, and this bodes well for the smaller, personalised companies,” he says.
Aubrey’s advice and learnings
What are the three most important lessons you learned along your entrepreneurial journey?
Integrity, hard work and loyalty.
In hindsight, what would you do differently?
I would have invested more financially in my company sooner to allow for quicker growth, and spent more time nurturing foreign clients.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting out now?
Take the risk. What may seem impossible now is totally within your reach.