We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Hymes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, how do you think about risk?
I have never really considered myself a risk taker before starting my business, however there is a level of risk associated with opening your own company. I believe being a mom of four, you want a level of stability for your children. You make decisions based on what you want to provide for your children. When my children were all very young and my husband traveled a lot for work, I knew I wanted to be there for them as an anchor. I choose to teach (I loved teaching) and simply work while they were in school. Childcare for multiple children was not a feasible option for the amount of income I could bring in. I loved that season, looking back, it was definitely very difficult financially and emotionally, but as with most things in life, the most difficult times are often the most rewarding! As my children grew up, I had a little more time and wanted to do something for myself as well as provide financially.
I decided to open my photography business after doing it for a hobby for a few years. I decided at 47 years old to start a new career from scratch! It was a risk to invest in education, equipment and start-up costs, especially in an already saturated market. Obviously, the risk of not getting enough clients to offset your expenses was a real possibility and when the pressure is all on you, you find yourself working way more than a 40-hour work week. Healthy work-life balance is another topic of discussion all together. I took another risk, to start curated&craftedco, a styled shoot company for photographers and vendors to come together to showcase their work. We just had our first retreat in 30A, Florida. All of this during a global pandemic. Running and starting a business during the pandemic has added additional level of risk that I wish didn’t exist, but you learn to do things to minimize the risks associated with a pandemic. I had never picked up a professional camera before. I had never run a business. I had to learn how to do basically everything but honestly motherhood taught me that I could do hard things. I spent many days so frustrated and overwhelmed with what I needed to do that that little phrase got me through that painful phase of start-up. “I can do hard things”, was my mantra and is still my go to when I feel overwhelmed.
I think a life well lived, is a life full of risks. We take risks every day with every decision we make. Life is risky. Comfort and routine can be good but sometimes going beyond your comfort zone and your routine will push you to experience things that you never thought were possible. Just this summer I met a couple in Hawaii to photograph their elopement. I was in total disbelief that a couple, whom I had never met, wanted me to photograph their wedding in Hawaii. I was definitely out of my comfort-zone, but it was a highlight of my career so far. The risk of failure is what most people struggle with. Failure in relationships, finances, expectations and careers. We get so wrapped up in “what if I fail”, that we don’t even try. Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of the success. You use those failures to learn how to do better. My photography is a learning process. With every photo shoot I learn something new. Every event, every seminar, every interaction with another photographer, I continue to learn something new. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
There is some debate about viewing photography as art, but I do believe that it is. Documenting a love story or a moment in time is an art. Your equipment is a tool that enables you to create an image, but that image is initially formed in the mind of the photographer. Two photographers can yield very different images of the same people due to not only editing but composition, prompting, posing, and focus. I think what sets me apart is that I don’t put myself in a box of style. I am not “light and airy” or “dark or moody”, I capture what your day is rather than making it fit my aesthetic. I also think that being a mom of four, a former teacher, along with my age, has helped me in understanding people and the emotions of the day. Weddings can be very stressful for a lot of people, and I would like to think I am a calming aspect of their day. Things do go wrong, it rains, bow ties and flowers are missing, you name it. I want couples and families to remember the beauty of the day and I approach photography in a way that is non-intrusive. I arrive with minimal equipment. I shoot with a dual harness with two cameras with two different focal length lenses so I won’t miss anything. I have off camera flash lighting if it’s absolutely necessary, but my focus is on the emotions and the memories. One of the reasons, I love weddings, is that I get to do a little bit of both documentary and styled photography. I am romantic at heart and actually enjoy not shooting the same type of weddings. I love that I can capture a big wedding one weekend, then an elopement the next or a back yard wedding one weekend and a small rural church the next. I love getting to see different people in different settings.
I got to where I am today with a lot of hard work and determination to make it work. Hello YouTube! I have had the encouragement of my husband and the community of women I have met in the industry. I whole heartedly think that the community over competition has been a key to my success.
Having work-life balance is a struggle, and my goal is to refine this a bit along with being physically active. You can easily get consumed with answering email, messages, calls and text messages all hours of the day in fear that someone will go elsewhere. You can find yourself working every hour of the day trying to make sure you keep up with client communication and all the things that go into running a business, especially with editing. I also want to hire some help in the coming year, especially with social media management. I think the other thing I struggled with in the beginning is that not everyone likes my style and that is OK. The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same, so I am not offended when someone says they like something different.
I really want people to know that when they hire me to photograph their wedding, I put my heart and soul into everything from communication, to offering the best experience, to having the best equipment and techniques, to backing up and storing images to make sure they are safe, to editing and delivering memories that hopefully will be enjoyed for generations to come. This little business enables me to provide for my family and I am beyond grateful to have been given the privilege to photograph one of the most important days of their life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, that’s easy. I would take them to Ponce City Market because shopping and food. The roof top restaurant on top of Ponce @9milestation, then a little shopping at West Elm and Citizen Supply followed by renting a scooter and seeing the belt line. Then possibly taking some pictures at some of the amazing murals along the way. Stop by Jeni’s and order the Fros’e Sorbet. Visit Piedmont Park and ride the ferris wheel. You must see The World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium and if time allows the Atlanta History Museum along with a tour of the Swan House.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As a former teacher, the one thing I immediately missed was the community of women I was surrounded with daily. I craved that and I found community in the photography world via a Facebook group, Inclusive Ga Community-Photographers. This little group has created such a wonderful community of photographers. I have met so many women face to face who have helped me to grow, specifically @Andreamariephotos who is now in Asheville North Carolina. Andrea gave me a boost of confidence that really propelled me to where I am at today!