Every week we want show the love and put the focus on some of our favorite photographers. This week asked Kenzie Hunter Hokanson of The Copper Fox Studio 40 questions.
Tell us who you are.
I’m Kenzie and I own The Copper Fox Studio.
Tell us everything about Kenzie Hunter Hokanson.
I’m a mother to two little girls who are as equally ornery as they are beautiful. I dabble in the ukulele and was a commissioned painter prior to becoming a photographer. It has been said that I take in entirely too many animals.
Where were you born and where are you located now?
I was born in a small town in Southwest Kansas and moved to Omaha, NE for college. Now I live just outside of Omaha.
The Most Important Questions
Favorite thing that isn’t related to photography?
Ahhh favorites are always a hard thing for me. I appreciate so many things for so many different reasons. Let me think.
Bonfires. The feeling of an almost chilly night by a fire roasting marshmallows with friends is always something that I love. If there is a lake and horses in the background, even better.
Three favorite movies?
No way I can just pick 3.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Anything Tim Burton
Eat, Pray, Love
Three favorite television shows?
How I Met Your Mother
Law and Order: SVU
Favorite musical artist or band?
City and Colour, Band of Horses, First Aid Kit, The Strumbellas
Tell Us About Your Business
How long have you been in business?
September 2018 my LLC was established.
I took film photography in college, loved it but was told I wasn’t very good at it so I dropped it. Started with a DSLR in 2016 on auto and relearned manual in 2017.
What genre(s) of photograph do you shoot?
Family, Newborn, Maternity, Boudoir
What genre(s) is your absolute favorite?
Fine art composites and young families. Especially young siblings interacting.
Tell Us About Your Gear
6d mark ii
Favorite camera lens?
Favorite camera strap?
Yellow scarf strap
Favorite camera bag?
House of Flynn copper rose mini
One photography accessory you can’t live without?
Dryer sheets. It sounds ridiculous but I’m allergic to mosquito bites and they swell up to softball size when I get bit. So I carry dryer sheets on me for sessions and that keeps the skeeters away.
Let’s talk editing!
PC or Mac?
Favorite Editing Software?
Favorite Lightroom Presets and/or Photoshop Actions?
Kelsey Freeman’s Arden collection
Favorite studio management studio?
Favorite product that you sell?
Framed fine art matted prints.
Tell us what drives you!
Who is your biggest photography inspiration?
Brooke Shaden and Sue Bryce.
Brooke has a way of pairing art and photography together that just makes me want to create even more. She is never afraid to make pieces that can be considered dark and uncomfortable but they are insanely captivating.
Sue is so inspirational in her instruction. She uplifts and encourages everyone and truly believes that even the beginners can do exactly what she is doing. There is no ego with it (even though she truly deserves the praise), she just refocuses on bringing others to her level of success. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
Favorite shooting location?
Blair, NE usually in a field crawling with ticks.
Tall grassy areas with trees are my go to.
Where is your dream shoot location?
Iceland has been on my dream list for forever. One day.
Favorite season of the year to shoot?
Early-Mid September. I’m not pouring sweat from the summer and I’m not dying from playing catch up like the fall. It’s just perfect.
Favorite time of the day to shoot?
Favorite type of lighting?
Natural lighting/ backlight. You can’t beat it.
What makes photography special to you?
I think it’s the ability to create art for people that they can cherish. In painting, I had the hardest time selling my work because there was only one. I poured so much time into it and it was like I was selling a child by the time it was finished. With photography, I’m still able to put the soul-work into it and then I turn around and can show it to the family and see how much it means to them to have a piece of art of the people they love most. It’s an incredible feeling to see someone cry with joy as they view your art, and to be able to provide a service where that is the focus….there’s just nothing like it.
If you could photograph anyone in the world (past or present), who would it be?
My brother. He died by suicide in 2011 and I would love the opportunity to take more photos of him for my family.
Favorite music to listen to while shooting and/or editing?
Folk music. I feel like that is kind of my brand is the whimsical, folksy, backwoods vibe. Turn Pandora to bonfire folk radio. You’re welcome.
What do you wear to a typical shoot?
Jeans and a t-shirt with slip on tennis shoes mainly. I get down and play with the kids a lot so I can’t be too dressy.
Give us your best tips!
What was the best resource when you were learning to shoot?
Youtube. I was on Youtube every night just clicking through things that looked interesting, and then the next day I’d try it out.
What was the best resource when you were learning to market?
I really thought Sarah Petty put me in the right direction. She is a big investment because she knows how to run a profitable business so I didn’t stay on long.
The Milky Way retreats helped me a TON. Their business retreat completely changed the way I looked at my business and helped me pinpoint where I needed to focus my energy.
How did you know it was the right time to go into business?
I have an auto immune disorder and had to start receiving infusions for it. There are some scary side effects (like leukemia) and it had my family very worried about what would occur. Right after I started my infusions, we found out that I was pregnant. It was a really scary time with a lot of unknowns. So, I finally just got to a point where I just stood up and said “Well, why the f*ck not.” I was already at a loss of control in so many other things, and I think that’s what always held me back. “What if I can’t run a business, what if I fail, what if it doesn’t work, what if I lose a lot of money, I can’t do that-I’m not a REAL photographer..” But the “well, why the f*ck not?” mentality really snapped me out of my head and in to actually DOING it.
I don’t know if it was the RIGHT time to go into business, I’m sure from the outside looking in a lot of people thought I was totally nuts, but some times we all just need that wake up call that asks- are you REALLY doing what you want to with your life? And if not, well, why not?
What’s your own best marketing tip for other photographers?
Keeping up with clients. I get a lot of people to come back to me because I check back in with them. Remind them that you are still thinking of them, or sending a photo of how small their newborn was and how big they’ve gotten, really makes them feel special and not just ‘another client’.
What’s the one thing that you wish you knew on day one of opening your business?
Not everyone is going to support you, or even be happy about your success. But what they think is none of your business. There is no set path in going where you want, you have to make one as you go, and don’t rush it. Joy and heart is what made you start this business, and you can’t discredit what you build with joy.
Know what you know now, what would have you have done differently when you opened your business?
Backups. Back-up babysitters and back up external hard drives. Back up EVERYTHING. Multiple times over. From kids to files. All of it.
How do you find balance between work and family?
I don’t, truly. It’s kind of just always playing catch up. I stay at home with my 5 and one year old and my husband leads a construction crew so from May-November he usually puts in 60-80 hour weeks. I edit when I can and shoot on weekends. He has Sundays off so I try to put a bulk of my work in when he is home and when the girls are sleeping. It’s true that the days are long and the years are short. I know there will be a time when I can go full time and focus on growing, but for now I’m just enjoying where this all leads.
When was the last time you had your own family portraits done?
We had a family photo done at my 5 year olds first birthday session but other than that it’s just been what I can photoshop together from using a tripod or trigger. We are hoping to finally get some done this year!
And the most important question!
And finally, if you could tell an inspiring photographer one thing, what would it be?
Don’t stop. Whatever you do. Every time you have a session you are growing. Each thing you learn is progress. All of the photographers that you admire all started exactly where you are. Whatever you want this photography journey to be for you, it can happen. Just keep shooting.