Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kelly Heck, Owner of Kelly Heck Photography, located in Taneytown, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My photography business, Kelly Heck Photography, focuses on corporate and commercial clients. My customers are often small business owners looking for technical and aesthetic photographs that highlight their team and help illustrate their brand, services, and/or products. While, I do travel for some work, and most of my clients reside within my region, which is central Maryland, and the surrounding areas.
All types of businesses can benefit from high-quality photographs, and as expected, my clients do all sorts of cool things! I have photographed men's coaches, home chefs, butchers, law firms, flower farmers, interior designers, CPAs, auto mechanics, veterinarian surgeons, flavor scientists, therapists, candle makers, travel planners, and the list goes on... I have even serviced other photographers!
Tell us about yourself
My father worked for himself, so entrepreneurism kind of came naturally to me. I was always trying to find ways to turn what I loved into what I did for work. And photography was always one of my loved hobbies. Helping people feel beautiful, strong, and confident in front of the camera brings me a lot of joy. I can't tell you how many photo shoots or initial consultations start off with customers telling me how much they hate having their picture taken and then, during or after their photo shoot, seeing them in pure excitement. WHY? Because they finally love how they look in a portrait! And if it's not about what it means to make the person on the other end of the camera happy, I simply just love taking pictures of anything.
The artistry of photography is about making something ordinary look extraordinary. Finding different angles, different methods of lighting, different perspectives... that's what makes photography such a special craft. And the creativity is endless. I also find myself in a lot of fun situations. Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to oversee an open surgery in a veterinary surgical office - it was amazing! Very few other professions give you the opportunity to oversee and experience such unique things.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Over the last few years, my workload has decreased drastically, and I think a lot of people might see that from the outside or something as panic about. But for me, it's about quality of life. I have refined my workflow and my service offerings. And the results are that I am getting more clients suited to my skill set, and every job is a blast. The clients I am so grateful to work with are so nice and friendly, and I'm pretty sure they feel the same way about me. I get to give them more one-on-one attention instead of being spread way too thin across too many jobs. So I think having the initiative to cut back on my offerings, niche down to corporate and commercial work, and adjust my pricing has made a big impact, and I'm very proud of that.
It's very hard to say no when you're faced with accepting or turning away income (like turning down a wedding shoot). But your business will change when you can start focusing on the things you really love, and I love shining the spotlight on fellow business owners. So I guess saying "no" is one of my biggest accomplishments! And you can do it too! :-)
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I think focusing on a list of prioritized items can be tricky at times. Especially when you are spread thin and there are so many things to tackle, but I find a to-do list helps me focus more than anything. But even when things are slow, sometimes distractions really pull at you. Having the discipline to shut down all the noise around you (distractions like email, phone calls, cleaning, making lunch, etc.) and focus on what needs to get done (even if it's not fun) is hard but necessary.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Really define what it is you want to do and go after it. Try not to be the kind of person that does a little bit of everything just to make it by. I thoroughly believe that when you have a niche, you can be more successful.
- Get really good at all the small things. It's not just about being good at photography. Most of my time is spent talking to customers, emailing, editing photos, working on my website, building my SEO, writing blog articles, sending email newsletters, and accounting... you name it, small business is a lot of work, and you need to be good at much of it.
- Find tools that will help give you back your time and establish workflow to do the same. I use a HoneyBook for my CRM system, and the options they have for workflow development and support are so valuable to me.
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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