This week’s Teacher Entrepreneur profile is Katie Ford of Katie Ford Photography .  I was introduced to Katie by Josh Waldron of Studio JWAL.  Katie has been a Teacher for ten years and has officially been in business for four years, although she has been selling photos for much longer.  Katie has a passion for photography and it shows in her work.  Take a moment to check out her site and I think you’ll agree.

CS:       What is the name of your business and where is it located?

KF:      The name of my business is Katie Ford Photography.  It is located at 27 Stoneridge Drive in Waynesboro, Virginia.

CS:       How long have you been an educator, and what positions have you held?

KF:      I’m finishing my 9th year as a teacher.  I taught 9th, 10th & 12th grade English.  I also teach a leadership class.

CS:       Why did you want to become an entrepreneur?

KF:      I didn’t want to be.  It just kind of happened.  People liked what I did and were willing to pay for it.  It happened organically.  I never thought I would go into business for myself and would want to take up my free time running a business.  For me, the business has to be about something that I love doing, and it is.

CS:       Why did you choose your particular industry?

KF:      I have always loved photography.  Even as a kid, I always had a camera.  One year my husband got me a really nice camera for Christmas and I started taking shots at school.  People loved them and wanted to buy them.  That is how it all started.  I never intended to go into business.

CS:       Tell me a little bit about your business?

KF:      Like I mentioned before, I started taking shots at school after my husband gave me a great camera.  People loved them and wanted to buy them.  Kids started buying them, parents wanted them.  Then people then started asking about portraits.  There are a lot of photographers in our area that do location shots.  But no one has a studio.  I thought a studio would really set me apart.  I didn’t want to do portraits in my home and I didn’t feel comfortable doing them in other people’s homes.

I talked it over with my husband.  I didn’t want to rent space.  We thought about adding on to our home, but I really didn’t want clients coming to my home.  Then about a year ago, we found this cool little space that I thought would make a great studio.  So we took the plunge and bought it

CS:       What is the best business advice you have ever been given?

KF:      Just do it.  If you have something that you want to do, or you love to do and people are willing to pay you for it.  Go for it.  Jump in with both feet.  That is hard for teachers, because they love control.  When you jump in with both feet you don’t always have control.  That is the only way to do things for me.  That is how I live my business.  If I need a new camera or some new equipment I just do it.  I get it and know that my business will be able to pay for it.

CS:       What is the greatest challenge of being a Teacher Entrepreneur?

KF:      Balance.  I want to be the best teacher, the best wife and the best photographer.  If I am the best at all of those, something has to give.  My mental stability is what would probably give.  I have to choose what to be the best at at the time I am doing it.  I don’t need to be the best at everything all the time.  If a client is in front of me I need to be the best photographer.  If I have students in front of me I need to be the best teacher.  If I am with my husband I need to be the best wife.  That is what I focus on.  Doing the best I can at the time that I am doing it.

CS:       What advice would you give to other Teacher Entrepreneurs?

KF:      I have 2 pieces of advice:

  1. Get to know people in your industry.  Even if you don’t know them personally, get to know them through social media, what is there business, what are their strategies, techniques etc.  Find those people in your industry that are successful and learn what they do.  Find out what people in sister industries do.  I have learned so much about marketing from other photographers.  Most people have been more than willing to share what they do and what they have learned.
  1. Take risks.  Don’t be afraid to try things.  Spend a bit of money to go to the trade show.  If you come away with a couple of contacts that is a success.  My biggest fear is that I will have regrets.  I don’t want to have regrets.  Take risks.  Don’t have regrets.  Things are going to be scary.  I remember the first college football game I shot.  I didn’t know where to go, my equipment wasn’t as nice as everyone else’s and I got run over by a player.  I was standing in the wrong spot at the wrong time and got run over.  I survived.  I learned a lot.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life as a sports photographer.

CS:       What books or resources would you recommend to other Teacher Entrepreneurs?

KF:      I’m going to go back to others in the industry.  Talk to colleagues.  I haven’t found a book or another resource that has been as valuable as talking to other photographers.  It will be the best learning you can do.  Talk to others that are doing what you do or learning what you are learning.  I think people are more likely to be candid in a conversation than in a book.  They will be willing to share some real stories with you.

CS:       What is your vision for your business?

KF:      I want to be so busy that I have to turn people away.  I’m not there yet.  That’s okay.  Once I can turn people away I will feel comfortable about my business.

CS:       How will you know when you have achieved your vision?

KF:      Not only do I want to be busy.  I want to make sure that I can create a quality product for my clients.  I have to be able to produce a beautiful product every time.  That is my goal.  I want to be busy but I want to create great products.  It isn’t enough just to be busy.

CS:       What would you do differently if you were to start another business?

KF:      I would outsource logo design, web design, advertising and social media stuff.  That stuff is so labor intensive.  It is hard for me to be objective.  When I was designing my logo, it was hard to step back and be objective.  If I allowed someone else to do it for me, it would have taken a lot of stress off my shoulders.

CS:       Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your business?

KF:      I feel like an entrepreneur imposter.  I never got into this to be a business owner.  I still don’t feel that I’m good enough.  I want to create a quality product for my clients so I am willing to work through the fear, the inexperience and all of the other negative emotions.  I want to serve others and I love photography.  It fulfills my soul.

I want to thank Katie for taking the time to speak with me.  Between her business, teaching duties and family responsibilities she is very busy, yet she was very gracious with her time.

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