PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We'll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come from running a creative business.
This week we are interviewing LA-based photographer Kimberly Genevieve, whose colourful style has attracted many many fans, as well as an extensive client base.
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
I’ve had so many jobs, but none of which were intended to do as a career. I was a record store clerk for a couple years, I worked at a travel agency, I worked at a department store, I was a sales rep at woman’s fitness center, and finally a mail carrier in Canada. I used to deliver mail door-to-door for almost 5 years before saying ‘screw this, I’m moving to California!'
Has photography always been in your blood?
Yes! I've always carried a camera with me – especially at school. I used to take photos of my friends all the time and I’d include photographs in my school projects. It was the only way I knew how to express myself.
Where does your love of bright colours come from?
It probably comes from having endured long winter months in Canada where the sun wouldn’t shine for weeks at a time. Bright colours, sunshine, and palm trees really inspire me and make me so happy. I get pretty sad on gloomy days – LA really is the perfect place for me!
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
Truthfully, I had no clue. I just did it because it became necessary.
How did you go about starting your own business?
I wish I had a great story about the business plan I put together when I first moved to LA, but I don’t. It sort of just happened as soon as I started getting job offers, and I knew I had to figure it quickly.
How did you secure your first clients?
Daily Candy saw my work and asked if I’d like to start photographing for them around Los Angeles. I jumped at the opportunity knowing what a huge following their site had. They really opened the door for me and got my name and portfolio noticed by so many. To this day, I still get work from people that started following me when I was working with Daily Candy.
How does working with big brands differ from any other jobs you do?
There’s a much bigger production, more creative planning, many voices and opinions coming from different directions, there’s a bigger budget, and lots of people to please, but I’m not complaining. I love working with big brands!
What is your typical daily routine like?
I try to reply to new emails first thing in the morning. Sometimes I just go hiking and then go out for breakfast with my laptop. It really depends on the day and what I’m feeling. I guess I don’t really have much of a routine – I kind of like it that way.
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
Creativity! You have to be pretty creative to run your own business.
How do you decide which kit to use? Do you have an allegiance to a particular type of gear?
I'm always upgrading my equipment and testing new gear. Thankfully I have a great relationship with Samy’s Camera and I get to try new equipment all the time! For the past three years, I’ve mostly been shooting with Canon gear, and that’s the equipment I spend the most money on. When it comes to strobes and light modifiers, it’s always changing and evolving depending on the type of shoot and the location.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
Hiring someone to handle my taxes, hands down! I try my best to keep organised throughout the year. I keep detailed items, invoices, and receipts so at the end of the year I give everything to her and she handles the rest. It’s a huge burden off my shoulders. I also think that working closely with an assistant has been extremely beneficial. I have someone to help with emails and editing, so the entire workflow moves much quicker this way – I don’t get as stressed out anymore.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
Yes, all the time! I am always thinking and brainstorming new and exciting ways to create photographs. Sometimes it feels as though my brain never sleeps.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
No, not really. I can spend hours just looking at photos on Pinterest and creating mood boards for upcoming shoots. I also spend hours editing photos and watching movies – I'm definitely okay with alone time.
How do you relax?
Mexican food and happy hour with friends!
Where do you find inspiration?
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
I would tell myself to ignore what other people think of me and my work! I used to care so much what people thought but it really doesn't matter. I'm not trying to please other people. It's about what makes me happy and what I love to photograph. I don't care if certain people don't like my photographs or my style. I do it for myself and because I love it so much and because it feels right.
What would you like to be remembered for?
That’s a really good question …
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
The moment I realised I could make a living as a photographer, and that being a full time photographer was actually possible – that was a pretty spectacular moment! I had always worked a 9-5 job and all my friends back home were doing the same thing, but once I arrived in LA and met so many creative people, they all inspired me to start my own business and just go for it!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The feedback. Hearing clients express how happy they are with my photos always feels the most rewarding to me!
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
Submitting a budget for a big job. I'd rather just focus on the creative stuff and not deal with all the numbers. I was never good at math.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my mentors once told me to ‘figure out what you like to shoot the most and keep doing it over and over until you become the best at it!', and that's exactly what I'm doing.
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?
Édith Piaf, Elvis, Michael Landon, Dolly Parton, Charlie Chaplin, and the list goes on and on …
Web: Kimberly Genevieve
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