Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in photography but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elaine Minionis, Co-Owner of The Lunch Box Studio, located in Pembroke Pines, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is named "The Lunch Box Studio," which is a photography company created with the concept of being fresh, authentic, and out of the box in regard to the images we deliver to our clients. We pursue the idea of letting situations unfold in front of the camera, being mostly observational in our point of view, and also enabling clients to be represented as they truly are: how they are, their personalities, and what they like are catalysts of visual honesty for us. My husband and I own and work at our studio as a tight team, and I also make documentaries and business videos produced by my own company.
For over the past five years, I believe the majority of our customers are family groups and family-related events, even though we also do a lot of business photography, from corporate portraits to product photography. Yet, I can say that our everyday are family photoshoots, Bar Mitzvah, Bris, and everything related to milestone moments pertaining to a nuclear family.
Tell us about yourself
Since I was a little girl, I have always loved reading. I've been writing poetry since I was 8 years old, which is the reason why I decided to study Literature as my academic career. People tend to think that Literature is fiction, but the ones who study books and literary criticism know that almost any writings are a reflection of its historical time and of the way of thinking of that particular moment. So to me, Literature was my way to understand the reality of a time. Yet, there was a point where the exploration of that reality needed a counterpart: the visual. So I began studying documentary photography and, in time, documentary filmmaking as well, and in that space, I could insert research and narrative, plus all the creativity behind an image that could tell a story, a real story.
Regardless of the fact that I am covering an event or working on a photo session of a couple, a nuclear family, or an individual, I'm always trying to pursue the truth in what I see behind the lens. That's why images that are candid, frank, and natural fulfills me the most and encourage me to understand the world that surrounds me and other people's realities. I truly love stepping into someone else's shoes and appreciating their actuality from there. The Lunch Box Studio is my outlet for that.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I truly believe the biggest achievement of what I do is watching my subject of exploration grow in time, that being a family, a business, a child, or a story being captured. The thing is that we can be right there when things are incipient: a couple that is starting their life together, a mother that is about to give birth, a corporate portrait of a businessman who is about to be launched into the world with his startup, a child that turns 1... and then turns 13 and is called to the Torah because he is "officially" a man. I capture their path in time, and that to me, is priceless. I also can't stop feeling this immense joy since I won a regional Emmy award at the end of 2020, given by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, for my documentary "Uncanny: The Dolls of Mariana Monteagudo" and produced by my company. That really changed my life.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I must admit that what I've struggled with the most is... time. When you have your own company, it's like time expands into eternity, and you can literally find yourself embedded in this non-stop way of life. Yes, your work becomes your life because this thing that you created, IS yours. It is easy to think, "Hey, you are your own boss, you can do whatever you like, whenever you like." Well... no, it doesn't work that way. It is true that I don't owe anybody an explanation on how I spend my time, but to be honest, my time is spent on exactly what I've created.
In our case, a small business, it can become difficult working extensive hours, so often until 1 or 2 am, not taking weekends or holidays off because you gotta deliver and no one does it for you, and personal time is literally swallowed by your working time. You depend only on yourself to have bread on your table, and if you don't schedule enough shoots, there is no bread on that table. Everything relies on your own workforce. Period. And if something goes wrong, you are the responsible person. You can't blame a team, and you can't blame a generic name with no face on it. That has actually made me even more of a perfectionist. I don't release that project until it's so bright that it dazzles you. You strive to be better and better because it is your name out there. I think I have grown so much, but at the same time, I've lost so much. Rescuing and honoring my personal space is my current odyssey.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in your cause, especially the emotional one.
- Pursue and pursue it, but also be grounded enough to recognize when it is time to let it die.
- Drink a lot of coffee!
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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