Summarize your life in a few sentences

Started out homeschooled in Indiana, taught myself photography and Photoshop through self portraits in the woods, graduated SAIC last May, and now running my photography business full time!

What’s your background?

My background is entirely in the arts – I taught myself everything I know about cameras and editing when I was a teenager, thinking that I would become a fine art portrait photographer and show my work in galleries. Once I was a sophomore in art school at SAIC, I realized the fine art world wasn’t for me – I was struggling to show “fine art” photography, instead opting for portrait sessions with women I found inspirational, which made critiques awkward because people didn’t know how to talk about my work. I decided to start taking every business class I could find at school (which was limited) and teaching myself about entrepreneurship online.

How did you start your business?

When I was 16, I started saying that I wanted to be a photographer and haven’t questioned it since. It took a few years and a lot of trial and error before I realized how to actually make photography a career – it started with small fun paid shoots with friends when I was 16 and progressed from there to bigger projects with places like Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to now where I focus primarily on creative entrepreneurs.

What inspired you as a creative woman?

Hearing other women tell me their stories of following their dreams.

What was your first job ever? Any funny or memorable story?

I worked in a snack bar in the roller rink where I took lessons for ten years. Yep, I can skate circles around you, but my skills at reheating frozen chicken wings are absolutely subpar.

If you won a lottery today, will you still continue to build your business?

Being a photographer has always been my dream and it’s never been about the money. I love using the art to empower, inspire and connect with other women who are pursuing their passions – so yes, I would still continue to build my business. I would probably just use it to pay off my student loans (yikes).

Walk us through your day as a photographer.

Some days I’m on location photographing clients all day and then meeting potential clients for coffee dates. Others I’m at home pajamas on, coffee brewed, and editing sessions, answering emails and planning content for my blog or newsletter. Both kinds of days are fun, but I try to definitely incorporate comfy/lazy clothes as much as possible.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

Every time I hear from clients that I made them feel comfortable and beautiful in front of the camera.

Where or what do you think you will be/do in the next 5 years?

I think in 5 years I’ll still be a photographer working with clients, but I just opened The KH Shop recently and that’s something I want to delve more into as my business keeps growing. So maybe I can add shop owner to my tagline soon!

Share a quote/advice that you’d like to tell the 25-year-old you

I’m gonna share advice I’d give to my 15 year old self, cause I’m only 22!

You’re going to fail – and you HAVE to face that fact. Because it’s absolutely going to happen and the worst case scenario is to not learn anything from the failure.

You’ll fail often. More often than you’d like – think multiple times a WEEK. And of course it will hurt and be frustrating, but once you come to terms with the failure you have think about what you can gain from the experience.
Next time you find yourself facing failure in the face, reflect on the situation. What could you do differently next time? Was there anything you would change in a similar situation? Was it a failure because of something you could have prevented?
The only way to combat failure is to learn from it.
Instagram: @katharinehannah