There’s a lot of love in Kristi Kvenild’s work. She’s a favorite among ATL parents because of the heart she puts into her work and her dedication to excellence, so it’s easy to see why her business—Up & Away Photography—was your Totally Awesome pick for best family photography around Atlanta. A photographer extraordinaire, (plus a mom and fourth-grade teacher!), Kristi believes in refusing to smile when someone says, “Say cheese!” and that everyone can look beautiful in a photo. Here’s what Kristi had to say about the inspiration for her business, balancing mamahood with work, and more:
Red Tricycle: Congratulations! Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome.” What do your customers value most about your business?
Kristi Kvenild: I often get families who warn me that their child never smiles at the camera, or won’t sit still, and yet they wind up with beautiful galleries and are really in awe of the images I get. I don’t mind being silly or talking about boogers in order to get a kid to smile. I’m on the ground, down-and-dirty, and I think that makes parents feel like I care about how their family is portrayed in their photographs. I have a lot of patience for kids!
RT: What inspired you to start your business?
KK: I really enjoy being creative. I love Pinterest and simple graphic design and I like coming up with projects for my daughter to make, but I think photography is an amazing way to be creative in a productive way. I just started to think, how fabulous would it be to be able to do this all the time? To play with kids, make Mom feel beautiful, see Grandma’s eyes light up when she sees her grandkids on a canvas? I like being in control creatively about all aspects of a business—from the marketing design, to designing my website, to (of course) the images themselves. You really feel proud of something when you develop it all from scratch.
RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?
KK: Yes! Learn, learn, learn before you start proclaiming yourself as a professional. Take classes, watch videos, spend time really analyzing and making yourself better. These days, anyone with a camera can “take pictures.” It’s the skill and the artistry behind it that makes a professional a professional.
RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?
KK: I wish I knew all of the tricks! It’s hard running a business when you’ve got little kids—so much of your time is spent trying to balance it equally, trying to make sure you don’t leave one behind because you’re too focused on the other. I think my advice would be to constantly assess. I’m always trying to think, have I spent quality time with my kids today? If the answer is no, I snap the laptop shut and get going. At the end of the day, I like to be able to look back and feel good about the things I did with my family AND with my business.
RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?
KK: I have little splurges of pride as a mother every day—like when my daughter gives her baby brother a hug, or spells a five letter word all on her own, or tells me she loves me. Sometimes I just think, Wow. I made that. I’m raising that. You know?
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
KK: Yes! Clients mentioning they’ve read about me on Red Tricycle get a $50 print credit when they book a Regular Session (families or children).