Xinia: Let’s start off by tell us about yourself and your business
Autumn: My name is Autumn Reynolds and I live in Lewisville, Texas. I am married and I am 24 years old. I started my photography business three years ago. I have a home studio. I photograph maternity, newborns, kids, seniors, and families.
Xinia: What was the moment when you decided to do this for a living?
Autumn: There really wasn’t one single moment where I decided to do this for a living. Photography started out as a hobby for me in middle school and gradually turned into a full-time business after I got out of college. I guess if I had to pick a moment when I knew I wanted to do this for a living I’d probably say sometime during my first year of college. I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do.
Xinia: Why photography?
Autumn: I love photography because you can be so creative with it. I would like to consider myself an artsy person but in reality I am not sure I really am. But I do know that I’ve been interested in photography since middle school and have an eye for a good photo. I love how great lighting and beautiful subjects can be a perfect combination for gorgeous images. I love being in control of every aspect of a session and seeing the ideas in my imagination come to life through my lens.
Xinia: How long did it take you between the planning process and actually launching your business?
Autumn: The start of my business was gradual. I didn’t start my business like business owners typically do. I have been paid for my services since high school but I wouldn’t say I started my full-time business way back then. It’s been a slow, steady learning process. I’ve learned a lot about the business side because that was not my area of expertise and I continue to learn day by day.
Xinia: What role, if any, does a business plan play in building and launching an arts company (as a business pursuit)?
Autumn: A business plan is a great idea, however it is something I really struggled to create at first. It’s hard because an arts business is so inconsistent. There are a lot of unknowns from month to month that I can’t possibly know how much I’ll make or spend in any given year. However, a business plan is still important because you need to consider who your target market is, what you think you’d like to make, what kinds of expenses you’ll have, etc. Knowing those answers is crucial to running a business that is self-sustaining.
Xinia: What has been one of the most difficult/tough moments that you have gone through during this process, and what did you learn from them?
Autumn: Where do I start? There have been so many learning experiences in this business. As I mentioned before, knowing the business ins and outs was a challenge for me. But another challenge at first was understanding that I couldn’t keep doing photos for free or very little. I had to, and still continue to, understand that my work is valuable and worth something. I create works of art for clients and I should be compensated fairly for my time, experience, education, and creativity.
Xinia: What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring artist entrepreneurs about planning?
Autumn: First I would say don’t rush. There is no need to get in a hurry. It’s important to take time to consider what you want your specialty to be, who you want to be your target market, etc. Second, I would stress how important it is to understand how to run a business. I really think I should have gotten a business degree! It all seemed like another language to me. It’s important to know about taxes, profit, expenses, etc. Third, I would suggest getting really good at your craft before launching your business. I eased into a full-time business and my photography has greatly improved over the years but to have a business, it is important to be good at what you do from the beginning, otherwise you won’t get the clients you want and they may not take you seriously or want to pay for your work. Keep practicing and creating.
Xinia: What do you believe are necessary qualities, if there are any, for artist entrepreneurs to possess or develop?
Autumn: A no-brainer quality is creativity. In the world of art, there are so many copy-cats that are too afraid to try new things and develop their own style. Another quality is patience. Sometimes it takes time to find the people that truly love and value your work. Not every piece of art is for every person. Another quality would be persistence. Sometimes artists will go through dry spells where we don’t feel creative or inspired. But keep pressing on and trying new things. Keep doing what you love and the creativity will come again.
Xinia: If you could go back in time and do this all over again, is there anything you would change? If so, what would that be?
Autumn: I would take more business classes for sure. I’d talk to more business owners, especially photographers, to learn from their mistakes and see how they do things. I would maybe try to develop my style quicker.
Find out more about Autumn on her website: http://www.autumnreynolds.com/
And look for her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/autumnreynoldsphotography