Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Katie Howard, Founder of Arcadian Photography, located in Salem, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a photographer specializing in newborn photography. I have a beautiful little studio that is located in Salem, Oregon. I primarily work with mothers who are looking to have their pregnancy documented, their new baby photographed, or their family photos updated.
Tell us about yourself
I have always loved photography. Even as a kid, I often asked for a new camera for a birthday or Christmas. After I graduated from Washington State University with my degree in Interior Design, I worked in architecture firms for a few years before I started photography portraits professionally. When I first started in 2009, I photographed anything and everything for about two years. Weddings, high school seniors, local businesses, families, newborns, you name it. Right before my first daughter was born in 2010, I took a 2-day intensive workshop in Nebraska with Kelley Ryden and Tracy Raver to hone my newborn photography skills. After my daughter arrived, I decided to scale back my business by photographing only one genre. I chose newborn photography because it was my favorite. I didn't know it then, but it was a great business decision to niche down as I did.
My mother passed away when I was five years old, and my photos of her, especially of her and me, are some of my most treasured belongings. I'd say the only thing that holds a candle to them are the photos of my kids and photos of me with my kids. Working closely with mothers motivates me to create portraits for them that they will love and cherish for a lifetime. I know mothers aren't photographed nearly enough every day, and it's usually mothers who are setting up the portrait sessions. I work hard to pay them extra attention.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Two things stand out as big turning points in my business. Moving my newborn photo sessions from people's homes and into my studio. It was wonderful to be able to control the environment so that I had the best setting possible for the photos. Next was when I conquered my fear of studio lighting. I had called myself a natural light photographer for many years. It's what I knew how to photograph. And when the natural light was good, my photos were good. But the light wasn't always good. I was tired of the weather dictating how my photos would turn out. Using a studio light and modifier, I learned to create ample soft window-like light.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The uncertainty of not knowing what the next's months income will be. Sometimes I have a slow month (or several!) It's hard not to worry. But then some months are super great. An unpredictable ebb and flow come with being a business owner, and it's hard to stay calm during the hard parts and not get too presumptuous during the flush times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know your cost of doing business. Define your wanted income, tally up your expenses, factor in taxes, and price yourself accordingly! Do not price yourself as the cheapest in the area. It's hard to work up from that place. And the last thing you want is to be losing money.
- Niche down. Get specific about the service and product you are selling. Focus all of your marketing efforts on that one service. Be known for that one specific thing. You are the go-to person.
- Stay focused on your business. Don't look to your competitors to gauge what you will do next, how you will price yourself, or how you feel about yourself. Rember that comparison is the thief of joy.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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