Entrepreneur Spotlight: Carl Bassfield Jr.
From Freelance Photography to Full-Fledged Production Company
Carl Bassfield Jr. established In-Depth Productions in 2019 with an iPhone and a wedding gig.
“This isn’t the first business I’ve attempted to start,” said Bassfield. “It’s the first successful business.”
Before the idea for In-Depth Productions took root, Bassfield cultivated his love of photography by snapping church photos on Sundays with his pastor’s camera. He searched for creative nature shots in his rural Southern Virginia surroundings and documented his growing son on his iPhone. While working as a military contractor at Fort Pickett, filming and editing simulations, Bassfield connected with an industry mentor from California, who took his talent seriously.
Shortly thereafter, Bassfield heard about CO.STARTERS, a program for aspiring entrepreneurs that was part of the Downtown Blackstone Inc. (DBI) Community Business Launch (CBL) and is managed by the SOVA Innovation Hub, the Longwood SBDC, and GO Virginia Region 3. The program provides support, skill-building, business ideas, grant opportunities and networking events for individuals interested in starting a business.
“When you start a business, you want to do everything by yourself and everything right now,” said Bassfield.
However, CO.STARTERS taught Bassfield an important lesson: You have to take the steps one by one. Or, as he said, you have to “reel it in.”
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Instead of launching photography, videography and music production services right away, Bassfield opened In-Depth Productions with a focus on photography, specializing in weddings. Now with a studio in Blackstone, Va., two employees and a number of subcontractors, Bassfield has grown his business organically, adding videography services by request and, more recently, working with clients on original soundtracks, films, and voiceovers.
A second lesson from Bassfield’s time in CO.STARTERS emphasized the importance of developing a support network. As a member of CO.STARTERS’s inaugural cohort, Bassfield formed lasting relationships with his peers and instructors.
“The people in the class were very diverse. Everybody was doing something completely different, but there were opportunities for everybody to work together and network,” he said. “You end up keeping in contact with each other and becoming accountability partners.”
Since the program concluded, Bassfield has photographed his peers’ business events and provided editing services. His relationships with instructors Brandon Hennessey and Katherine Beale of the Longwood SBDC have also provided ongoing support. When he opened his studio, Beale offered a number of interior design suggestions, and recently, Bassfield reached out to Hennessey for tax advice.
As Bassfield scales In-Depth Productions, he returns to the lessons he learned from CO.STARTERS on a daily basis. Identifying his ideal customer and figuring out how to market his business strategically has been a game-changer.
“CO.STARTERS is a huge investment in self — one that’s very necessary, especially if you want to become an entrepreneur. Everything is relevant. You’re going to use all of the information that they give you.”
“I know that nine times out of ten, my ideal client isn’t going to pick up a newspaper,” he said. “The majority of my clients are online. They’re social media users. I’ve taken my advertisements out of the newspaper, and I get a newspaper to do my advertisements through their Facebook page.”
In the next five to 10 years, Bassfield has big dreams for his business. He hopes to open multiple locations and employ a regular staff, spending his own time photographing destination weddings. He has already booked an October wedding in Trinidad and Tobago.
As In-Depth Production grows, Bassfield works to support fellow innovators with business ideas. He recommends CO.STARTERS to those who are ready to make their idea a reality.
“CO.STARTERS is a huge investment in self — one that’s very necessary, especially if you want to become an entrepreneur,” said Bassfield. “Everything is relevant. You’re going to use all of the information that they give you.”