Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nevada Wier, Founder of Nevada Wier Photography, located in Santa Fe, NM, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am a photographer specializing in documenting the remote corners and cultures of the world. I love photographing people in their cultural element, using natural visual light, and photographing with a camera that only sees infrared light. I have been published in numerous national and international publications, including National Geographic Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, GEO, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, and Smithsonian. My fine art prints are featured in numerous public and private collections; she is represented by the Obscura Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. Not only am I photographing on assignments, but I am also a well-known keynote speaker, workshop, and seminar instructor. I have been featured in many television productions, such as: National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Through the Lens, and Canon Photo Safaris. I am a Fellow of The Explorer’s Club and a member of the Women’s Geographic Society.

Tell us about yourself

After college, I was an Outward Bound instructor, ski patroller, and river guide on the Colorado River, and I led treks in Nepal, Central Asia, and China. At the same time, I became infatuated with photography. I built a darkroom in the basement of the Southwest Outward Bound school in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and every penny went to photographic gear and outdoor travel adventures. I went on my first international expedition in 1978 to Bolivia, circumnavigating Lake Titicaca for 3 ½ months in a reed boat. This was the beginning of a travel passion that has yet to wane. Everywhere I went, my constant companion was, and remains, my camera. I travel about 7-8 months out of the year.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I am self-taught as a photographer, and that means very little, as the teacher (me) didn’t know anything. Eventually, I started maturing into a creative photographer with an awareness of what it means to see photographically and render that vision fully formed into an image. It took quite a while before I made photographs that I felt had a soul. I began transitioning out of professional guiding and into photographing full-time. My first assignment with National Geographic in 1996 was a big accomplishment, as well as my first book in 1991, Land of Nine Dragons: Vietnam Today. I think the fact that I was able to realize my dreams, which many thoughts were unrealistic, and create the traveling artistic life I imagined is my biggest accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

What I did not know when I said to myself, “I am going to be a photographer traveling the world,” is that it was not just about being a good or even great photographer. Being a professional really meant making a living! That meant learning how to write proposals and articles, have marketing ideas, learn how to manage money, and then be a creative photographer! Being self-employed in the arts is all-consuming. You must want it more than anything. There was no college degree that could prepare me, no signposts along the way, and certainly no clear route. I had to figure it out on my own. And no weekly paycheck!

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. The best avocation comes from a passion for following a personal aspiration.
  2. Vow to be the best you can be in your field. Be brave and a trailblazer.
  3. Sometimes, life will derail the best of intentions, but don’t let that come from your choices. Stay focused!

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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