Intro to Entrepreneurship
April 17, 2011
I had the opportunity to interview Lesley Knox. Lesley is a professional photographer in Omaha. I greatly admire Lesley and her work. I hope to emulate her when I have my professional photography skills obtained. Lesley loves photography. My sense is that she loves what she sees from behind her camera and she loves capturing “the moments.” It’s more than snapping pictures of someone or an event. It’s capturing the emotion of those moments and truly using the photographs to tell the story.
Lesley’s target market is brides. She loves shooting weddings. She finds that bridal fairs and word of mouth are the best ways to attract customers. When she decided she was ready to start out on her own, after mentoring with another professional photographer for two years, Lesley used word of mouth marketing and did twelve weddings her first year. Lesley does not have a formal business plan and has used boot strap financing the whole way through. When looking at what to charge her clients, Lesley did her market research and placed her prices somewhere in the middle of what others are charging.
I learned that the challenges I expect to face are the same challenges Lesley faces today. Aside from getting her name out there, the two biggest challenges Lesley faces today are the fact that everyone out there has a digital camera, not professional grade, but still enough to make people think they can shoot special events with the cameras they have. Some do this to save money; ask a friend or relative to take the wedding or senior pictures. Another aspect of “everyone has one,” is that people try to pass themselves off as professionals, and it makes it harder for lesser known photographers to establish credibility in the marketplace. Lesley said it helps to be a member of the Better Business Bureau, be registered with the state as a business, and carry business insurance. Word of mouth is powerful. Doing what you say, when you say you will do it is essential. Honesty and integrity and passion make an impression that lasts.
Lesley gives the kind of service I hope to achieve. She goes beyond the role of photographer to lend a helping hand to brides, to change a diaper for parents attending to other children, to help with pets and special props. Lesley listens to what her clients are saying both with words and body language. Some families may want very formal, posed studio portraits, others something more fun and relaxed. I had the pleasure of having Lesley take family portraits for me last spring. I was a newly single mother of three children. I had been married seventeen years my home was plastered with photos. Every family photo I had, had my ex-husband in them. I treasure those photos from happy times, but I needed to take them down. I needed something happy with just the four of us, and our dog. Lesley hit the ball out of the park. We did outside shots. Fun shots. Happy shots. Hopeful shots. Lesley heard what I needed and went above and beyond to deliver. The photo session in and of itself is a good memory. I want to give that to others. I want to capture the essence of a moment for others to keep and cherish as much as I cherish what Lesley did for my family. Lesley said that during the Great Depression, families went without shoes or new clothes, but they got their family portraits done each year. I want to be a part of helping families preserve memories and moments.
What I took away from all the information Lesley shared with me, is that I can actually do this. If I keep doing what I am doing, and keep learning what I am learning, I will be able to get where I want to go. I am happy to be in this class, and I will most likely enroll in a few more entrepreneurial classes so I feel more prepared for the business side of pursuing my passion. I do intend to have a business plan. I don’t know if I will choose to pursue an SBA loan or if I will stick with boot strap financing. I don’t know how new or innovative another photographer will be, but I do know that the honesty, integrity, and passion Lesley talked about never go out of style.