Behind the lens: Joey Marasigan says ‘knowing your worth’ is crucial for young people in business
By: Rameesha Qazi
Joey Marasigan has been interested in photography since she was eight years old. She used to follow around her older sister, a film photographer.
Marasigan started off using her sister’s cameras, making YouTube videos, and dancing. She got her first professional-style camera in 2018 and started filming dance videos, which turned out to be big projects.
After these videos, she experimented with her camera a little more and realized it could do portraits, too — and quite well. Marasigan started photographing her friends around campus at the University of Waterloo, where she is currently pursuing the arts and business program.
In 2019, Marasigan took the leap and started her own photography business. She now offers services for weddings and events, lifestyle and branding, and content creation. She says this leap came from realizing her worth and the value of the finished products she was creating.
“I learned a lot going through the motions of starting a business on my own,” she said. “I realized that what I do goes way beyond the finished product.”
Marasigan says it’s rewarding to see the reactions people have to her work. The photos from weddings and other events mean so much to her clients. She says she especially enjoys weddings because she believes that each wedding is like a story that she can chronicle with a series of photos.
“I get to be there to capture a story,” Marasigan said. “I’m lucky that some of my friends trusted me enough to photograph their wedding, which is how I got started with wedding photography.”
She has worked with brands such as Poche Posh and InternQueen. Marasigan says that at one recent event for InternQueen, she was surrounded by inspiring women, which helped her become more ambitious with her own dreams.
“I saw [at the event] that, as a girl, I can reach new heights,” she said. “I realized then that I wanted my photography to be more than just photography. I work on empowering people, helping them see that you don’t have to be a model for amazing photos.”
The ban on large gatherings and the practice of physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic changed things for Marasigan, like they did for everyone.
“Things aren’t normal anymore,” she said. “I took some time to see how I could readjust everything I was doing.”
Marasigan was set to work at weddings for summer, which have all been postponed for the foreseeable future, so she developed resources for couples who were now facing the reality of the situation and created a blog space where she talks about her challenges, experiences, camera equipment, and life. Marasigan says the blog section of her site is unique, as most people don’t get the chance to get to know the person behind the camera so well.
When Ontario moved into Stage 3 of reopening, Marasigan started doing in-person sessions again. “Getting back to photography and being around people was a little strange,” she said. While maintaining social distancing practices, she has been working with one or two clients at a time and has been using a “pay what you can” system.
Marasigan says she’s also very aware of what is happening with Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism movements right now. She decided that for the month of Aug. 2020, while “pay what you can” was in effect for her services, she was going to donate all her proceeds to women of colour through Black Women In Motion and the Native Women’s Resource Center.
“I know it’s been really hard for a lot of people, so I wanted to try and do something to help with that,” Marasigan said. “This was a creative way for me to give back, allow my clients to have their sessions, and do something I love.”
Marasigan says it’s sometimes hard to find a good price point for her work, since it is not only her business, but her passion.
“Putting a price on something you love to do is hard to balance, especially since this was the first time I was doing something like this,” she said.
Marasigan says one key thing for young people to remember is to charge what you’re worth, especially when you’re marketing to people your own age. This is telling them right off the bat why you are worth it, she adds.
When she first started off, Marasigan was asking for just above minimum wage: $20 for a shoot.
“I didn’t factor in everything that goes into doing a single shoot,” she said. “You have to understand all the time you’re putting in, and understand how much it takes. Know your worth and affirm it. It is a difficult learning curve and at the start, I did a lot for free.”
Marasigan adds that keeping track of finances is incredibly important, as this is real income. In her case, as a freelancer, it’s important to know what all her finances look like for tax purposes.
“The thing I tell everyone is that the most important thing is knowing your worth and making sure you’re getting it,” she said. “The moment I changed my rates to reflect my worth, I started getting the clients I wanted and getting to do the projects I wanted to do.”
Marasigan says her business goes beyond photography. It focuses on the experience for her clients, as that is what makes her end product something worth the investment being made.
Joey Marasigan turned her hobby into a hustle, and nothing can slow her down — not even COVID-19.