While her friends are learning how to drive, Kendall Erickson is learning how to run a business. The Ottawa Hills High School sophomore’s love affair with the camera has developed into a thriving business Kendall Erickson Photography. The company is less than a year old, but she has already produced winter scenes and holiday card photos for friends and family, and expects to stay busy this summer doing senior portraits and other photo work.
Erickson got her start taking photos of her junior high friends “modeling.” She says they would take turns as photographer and model, but she figured out that she wasn’t the model type. “The real fun for me was being the photographer.” She switched from a digital camera for an older model owned by her grandmother and used it to take photos at family events. She used money from Christmas gifts to buy her own SLR camera. She took a class to get herself started, which proved to be a big boost to her confidence.
“I was a bit intimidated because all of the other (members of the class) were over 40. It was one of the best things I could have done. That class taught me how to use my camera and I was able to use that information along with my basic sense of composition and lighting to really improve my skills.”
She started working in black and white, as she appreciates that it can add beauty and elegance to photos. But she finds that most people prefer color, so she now does most of her work in color, providing what she says is a more natural look. She likes to do outdoor shots, where she takes advantage of natural light and scenery. Erickson reports that her mom drives her to the photo shoots, "She has to drive because I haven't had time to learn how to drive."
Getting the job done
In her short career, she has learned to juggle other responsibilities to get the job done. She is a cheerleader, a member of the dance team at OHHS, and has a part in the school musical, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She has developed a strong philosophy about her work, explaining, “I believe photography should capture the essence of the subject. I cannot stand the look of indoor portrait studio photographs, because they are posed and serious. I think capturing all of the laughter and smiles is much more important.”
Social media has played a big role in Erickson’s promotion of her business. Her mother has posted some of Erickson’s work on her Facebook page, and that exposure garnered some significant assignments. She shopped for a business logo on Etsy, deciding on a bicycle, reminiscent of a winning photo of a bicycle that she entered in an adult contest. Erickson has a Facebook page for the business (Kendall Erickson Photography) and started a blog (kendallraeproject365.wordpress.com) where she will post a new photo every day for a year. “The blog is a challenge for photographers to take a photo every single day of the year and then to publish those photographs on a blog or other online media source. I am definitely challenging myself. Keeping up with this kind of project has definitely pushed me to my limits,” she says.
At this early stage of her career, Kendall Erickson isn’t sure how photography will figure in her future. She knows she wants to keep taking pictures while also doing graphic design work. But, for now, she says, “When I'm actually out photographing, I always enjoy myself and I'm always happy. When I take a picture and share it with the subject and they like it too, that's my favorite moment. I love being able to do something that makes me happy and then being able to share it personally with someone else, which makes them happy.”
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Facebook: Kendall Erickson Photography.