A Career Change Becomes a Sentimental Journey

By Sandra Zunino

When Leo Djiwatampu of Chester decided he’d had enough of the corporate world, he turned a beloved hobby into a business. Originally from Indonesia, Leo came to the U.S. to pursue a degree in Computer Science. After more than a decade of working in the aerospace industry in Washington D.C., Leo is now enjoying a newfound career as a wedding photographer.

Leo’s shutterbug pastime began in high school when his father loaned him his camera. Eventually, his proficiency earned him some recognition among his friends and he was entrusted with providing photo coverage for a wedding. As word got around, more photography jobs emerged and Leo’s hobby became a bona fide part-time job. Last year he launched the business as a full-time endeavor. “I’ve been learning along the way about starting a business,” says Leo.

First, Leo had to invest in equipment. While his primary client base came through referrals, he realized he also had to market his business in order to grow. Fortunately, Leo’s computer expertise came in handy, enabling him to create and launch his own website. Additionally, since digital technology has influenced the art of photography, Leo was able to seamlessly transition from film to digital.

While Leo says no two weddings are identical, typically he will generate up to 2,000 images from one job. Clients view their proofs online and decide which images they want for their album. Leo thins the options to about 800 images so not to overwhelm his customers.

After clients choose their images, Leo relies on his creative talents to generate the wedding album. Customers choose colors and textures for the cover, binding and pages from a selection of swatches. Leo then uses the images to create a magazine-like spread that tells the story of the wedding from beginning to end.

This relatively new style of wedding album has become a popular choice for couples. The result is a coffee table book where photos are integrated over backgrounds that are also photos from the wedding. For instance, images of the traditional toast might overlap a close-up of the table setting, softly blurred and blown up as a background. The effect is both dramatic and beautiful.

Because the clients may be under stress with the planning and execution of their day, Leo makes a point of putting his subjects at ease. He strives for candid looking shots with natural, relaxed smiles.

Leo says he enjoys sharing in the sentimental journey of the day, from the couple’s first dance and the toast to witnessing the joining of two families. Working with happy people is a huge bonus, he says.

While Leo has also provided videographer service, he says he prefers photography and will not do both at once, as this would not be optimizing either medium. In addition to covering weddings, Leo also provides family portraits and senior photos.

Leo says his wife, Pat, is his biggest supporter. Not only does she help market his business, she lends her creative opinion whenever needed. Leo says he would like to see his photography business flourish so he and Pat can run the business together, allowing her to spend more time with their 6-year-old son, Marcell. Currently, Pat commutes to a full-time job in Silver Spring.

For more information, visit www.leodjphoto.com or call 202-390-8530.