We had the good fortune of connecting with Robert Mitchel Owenby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robert Mitchel, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
For over a decade, I’ve been what I call a ‘dedicated hobbyist’ in terms of my photography. But when the pandemic hit, everything changed. That’s no secret. And while I obviously wish that Covid-19 was never a thing, suddenly being at home all the time gave me the opportunity to really focus on my photography as a viable business option. In fact, it became a necessity. All my performance work had dried up completely, my arts admin work was indefinitely on hold since all the theatres were closed, and my UI benefits were unpredictable at best. So for me, that meant that I needed to create an income stream that I was in control of. And naturally, I chose to double down on photography. It’s weird to be thankful for anything involving the pandemic, but I am very thankful to have had the chance to focus on photography as a business in a way that I, frankly, hadn’t had the time to do in the past. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve upgraded all of my gear, put a big focus on education, completely reimagined my website, and created a unique pricing structure in which my clients only pay for the images that they actually want. So while I always imagined that eventually I’d maybe turn my photography into a “real” business, it was really the necessity born from the pandemic that pushed me to make that happen now rather than later.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always been a creative, and I’ve always been drawn to arts. In middle school and early high school I was in concert band and marching band. Music is so powerful and important in my life, so even that early on, it was important to me to be able to create and make music. Then, a year or so into high school, I discovered theatre and my life took on a whole new direction. I would go on to be in every show my high school did from that point on. After high school, I became a student at the nationally acclaimed Gainesville Theatre Alliance to pursue my B.A. in Theatre. Then after college, I would begin making my life as a professional creative, taking gigs doing everything from theme park work, MC’ing for cirque-style high dive shows, to of course working in theatres across the country. I’ve always loved taking pictures as well, and when I picked up my first entry-level DSLR sometime around 2008, another realization happened – I had a love for photography as well! Flash forward to 2021. I made it through the hell-scape that was 2020, and now I’m building my photography portfolio and client base as I work towards becoming one of Atlanta’s go-to photographers for Headshots, Portraits, and Events.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Okay! So let’s say you’ve only got 24 hours to spend in Atlanta. This would be my recommended itinerary for the day: 9am: Breakfast at the Flying Biscuit in Midtown on 10th. 10:30am: Spend a couple hours exploring Piedmont Park 12:30pm: Hop on the belt-line and head towards Ponce City Market 1:00pm: Shopping and Lunch in PCM 3:30pm: Head downtown and choose between tons of great entertainment and education options like, the Civil Rights Museum, Georgia Aquarium, College Football Hall of Fame, and the CNN center 7:00pm: Grab a quick dinner and drink downtown. Then, if you’re a sports fan, you should definitely go see Atlanta United or the Atlanta Falcons play in the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or if arts and culture is more your speed, try literally any theatre in Metro-Atlanta and you can’t go wrong! 11:00pm Finish of the day by getting some good eats at the Majestic Diner 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?
I believe that who we are is a culmination of who we surround ourselves with and where we spend our energy. I am so blessed and so lucky to be surrounded by so many incredible people. At the very top of the list of people who have had a major hand in every aspect of my life is my grandmother, Barbara Owenby. She, along with my late father, Mitchel Owenby raised me to be kind, compassionate, hard-working, and above all else, empathetic. She has modeled all of those qualities and more every day of my 33 years on this planet, and by far, she is the most important person to me on this earth.
All Photography by Robert Mitchel Owenby Photography