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Five Strategies to Take Stunning Photos, with Rikki Friedman

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rikki Friedman from K2 Photography. A company that started as a small & simple one man band and is constantly striving to exceed perfection for their customers.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always loved pictures. I was always borrowing my uncle’s point and shoot. When I turned 12 he bought me my own canon point and shoot. I’ve been class photographer, family photographer, camp photographer and eventually mom photographer ever since!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I guess I find everyday fascinating — we have bumped into times that i guess were even more amazing — i.e. when the first people that were not friends, family and community stated coming from google searches, when a famous MLS soccer player used us for some work…

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started as a child portrait photographer, and eventually when I had my own kids and wanted to be home when they were home (i.e. no sunrise/sunset shoots, no Sundays, no weekends…) we started on commercial photography. I used to do everything myself from pictures to editing. Everything in product photography gets cut out and I used to painstakingly spend hours doing that. At one point an outsourcing company contacted me and offered to do my cut outs. I was very apprehensive as I admit to being a complete control freak and the thought of sending away my work got me nervous, but after some convincing from my husband who would appreciate a less busy wife we tried them out. They sent back a cut out that I had spent at least an hour on, (and didn’t even do such a good job at!) in about 5 minutes and charged .50! It was an embarrassing moment but since then we have come a long way and now we send about 250 items to be cut out each month!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Definitely our customer service. My father always told me that there are two ways to start a business. Some people set up a fancy store front, invest in the best interior decorator, get the most high end shelving….. And then put out an ad and wait. That method can work — and it sometime does. My father recommended I try the simpler, less glorious path. We baby each and every customer and have a very plain office. We go all out and spend a tremendous amount of time speaking with each and every customer to make sure they are thrilled beyond their expectations. We also keep our prices very simple and low. Generally, each customer we baby has a couple friends and we hardly do any advertising. Our company is growing slowly and carefully, but thank G-d I started alone and now have an office with six other employees! Anyone who speaks to clients in our office had to listen to Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. We stress customer service and we have heard from numerous customers that the reason they are sticking with us is because they always get to speak to a real person!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I don’t want to sound repetitive but I think with so many other photographers out there you have to offer something different. Also, we almost become ‘friends’ with all our clients. We become genuinely interested in their life and work and we enjoy working with them. I think that having fun is very important and when you are working with products it can be very monotonous. Taking that break to schmooze with clients and make friends adds more dimensions to a boring product photography job and makes you try harder to please your friend which also produces better images.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

First off to G-d, the strength he endowed me with, and the drive to keep going against all odds sets me apart from many humans that walk this earth. I was listening to a speaker on Lynda.com (a great source we use often) about running a successful business. I forgot who was giving the speech, but her key point was that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to start a real business. She recommended that if someone is serious about running a business they should be involved in nothing else, definitely not a marriage and children . G-d has blessed me with a super encouraging husband, and 4 adorable, and energetic kids aged 5,4,2,1. My husband is the mainstay behind everything. I would have given up long ago but he encouraged me to keep asking my father if we should forge ahead or find a new business. Eventually he joined the business, completely taking over the photography department and training others under him. I run a team of graphic artists and deal with all of the customers who won’t hear of speaking to anyone besides — Mrs. Friedman:)!

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are in the product photography world right now and I’d say at least 80% of that is for Amazon. Amazon is an ever evolving job and there is always more to do for it. We are working on expanding to video and package design as soon as we can.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I can’t say we are spearheading any major charity projects at this point. We are a growing business and whenever we do actually make money we invest it right back in and expand more. I do think though, that we make each individual person that calls here feel important and that he is actually a person not just a client. I hope the warmth we spread gets transferred from our clients to the people they come in contact with.

Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.

  1. We definitely believe in the 10,000 hour rule : practice and practice and you are never done if you want to be the best. In our office, whenever its a quiet season, we have everyone log into lynda.com or the equivalent and expand their knowledge, be it graphics, photography or just business ideas and practices.

2. Before you start, get inspiration. This advice is for products, they are not moving, and you are not going to miss their smile. Take it easy, get some inspiration, and combine everything to produce a super image.

3. Always try more lights — every spotlight you put on a product brings out one more zing. You can do it in Photoshop, but there is nothing like the real thing.

4. I‘m going to combine 4 and 5: more practice! The more practice and effort you put into your images the better they will be, making you more confident and proud to show what you have to offer.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

It’s easy to throw out ideas, but obviously much harder to put into action. Anyone listening to any radio or news blogs will probably know the sad fact that the most distributed medicine in america is anti depressant. I have a friend who sees a social worker every week for a few years . I asked her if she thinks she will ever graduate. Her answer was no, but at least someone gives her attention. She may not truly need a therapist at this point, but she does need a friend. In the technological world we live in people have millions of online friends but hardly any real friend that truly cares about them. There has got to be a way of communities implementing a friends systems, but I’m not sure how.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.instagram.com/k2_com_photography/?hl=en

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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