Martin VanBuren III first became interested in photography during middle school. Equipped with a small, red, point-and-shoot camera, he explored and experimented with different methods until his senior year of high school, when he split the cost of an introductory-level DSLR camera with his parents and took an interest in sports photography.
“It didn’t take long for parents and players to start offering compensation for the photos I posted on Facebook and so, the ignorant businessman I was, I decided 50 cents a photo was worth the time and effort I put in. But then more and more parents and players wanted photos and were interested in paying, so I rose my prices to a whopping $1,” he said.
In December 2014, just two months after purchasing his camera, VanBuren created a Facebook page for his business, V3 Photography, and began watermarking his images with the brand. It didn’t take more than two days for VanBuren to come up with his business name, a catchy play on his last name.
“The trend of taking photos of students for parents continued until my senior prom, where I brought my camera instead of a date and walked out with a dozen or so picture orders and payment,” he said.
VanBuren is now a senior Media and Communication Major at Castleton, and a respected portrait, event, and wedding photographer. He recently opened his own photography studio in his hometown of Poultney, Vermont, which VanBuren admits has been challenging at times.
VanBuren has found Castleton professors supportive as he balances being a full-time student and a business owner. When he was unable to grasp how strong some of his work truly was, professors pointed it out, giving him the boost of confidence he needed.
“Not having confidence in my abilities from a business standpoint really hurt financially, where I was afraid to charge a lot in fear I wasn’t worth it,” he said. “On top of all the social and communication skills, a spike in confidence was the most beneficial for the success I’m now seeing with my business.”