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Small Business Spotlight: Photographer Young Kwak

Supporting small businesses in a local community has always been a passion of mine. Before becoming a teacher, I would always shop and work at local mom and pop businesses. With my blog, I have provided local businesses here in Spokane, Washington a way to share out their business and what inspired them. Check out this amazing local photographer from Spokane:


Describe your business:

I run a photography and video production business. Being a photographer, most of my work is for news/sports organizations, though I do quite a bit of work for businesses and not-for-profits. My regular news/sports organization clients include in the Inlander, and the AP.

Cody Dix Harris helps corral cattle at Main Place at Lazy H Ranch, in Cheney, Wash., on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. (Young Kwak Special to the Pacific Northwest Inlander)

What is the most important piece of your business:

My clients depend on me to provide a high quality creative product, courteous service, and a prompt turnaround each time. Also, I am expected to adapt to changing situations during a job on a regular basis. As a photographer, my clients expect honesty too.

Spokane Marmots’ Erika Halverson (#14 blue) avoids a tackle by University of Idaho Black Widows’ Virginia Batha (#19 red) and passes to a teammate during the Fool’s Fest rugby tournament in Airway Heights, Wash. on Saturday, April 4, 2009. The Spokane Marmots lost to the University of Idaho Black Widows 31-0. (Young Kwak Special to the Pacific Northwest Inlander)

Give some recommendations to others from your perspective:

Here’s what I say to anybody hiring a photographer or a videographer.  Always meet the photographer or videographer first. Make sure your personalities mesh and you feel good about them. See if you can also get references. You want to make sure the photographer or videographer can deliver what they promise. Make sure they are listening to your ideas and looking for ways to incorporate your wants. The last thing you want is an unpleasant experience.

Most photographers and videographers work with some sort of service agreement, which is a legal document. Make sure you carefully read what is on the service agreement to ensure it is consistent with your expectations. Pricing should be clearly stated on the service agreement too. A model release may also be presented. That is you giving the photographer or videographer permission to take your image, make edits. It also states how the image can and can’t be used by the photographer or videographer. A photographer or videographer may ask you if you are comfortable them posting the images on social media. That’s up to you and they should respect your decision.

Built To Spill, photographed from The Davenport Hotel parking structure, performs at the Steam Plant Outdoor Stage during the Volume Inlander Music Festival in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Young Kwak/The Inlander)

How to know a good photographer?

It’s good to look at portfolios, but I would recommend looking at a photographer or videographer social media accounts. Portfolios show their absolute best work. But, social media shows work product they create on a regular basis. They should regularly post work to their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter accounts, etc…

I would say that you can’t have enough questions, especially if you have never hired a photographer or videographer. You should be comfortable by the time you are signing a service agreement and model release for your photoshoot.


What mindset change you had after you began your practice:

Understanding that my business was my reputation and every dollar spent was mine was very different than being an employee for somebody else. The buck literally stops here. There is no supervisor or somebody who can jump in to help. I am the supervisor. There are also many things not related to the creative process that go along with running a business. Some of my time involves administrative, bookkeeping and client communication work. It’s also not a 9-5 gig and I had to adapt. I may be working early morning, break for most of the day and then work in the evening again. Each day is different.


How can people start this same journey?

I would say find something you love and are good at. Find your own niche. If you are doing what everybody else is doing, it can feel crowded. Also, it’s easy to get stuck in planning a business and never make it happen. Financially, you should plan on making losses early on.  If there’s a second income in your household or a decent amount of savings, that can go towards operating your business early on. But, at some point, you must trust in your own abilities.

Literally you to say, “this is day one of my business” and make it happen. That’s what I said back in October 2007. One more thing for photographers and video producers. You are the brand. I feel that more than most other industries, people want to hire you, not some company name you came up with. If you look in any newspaper or magazine, it is the name of the photographer that is credited.


Find me on social media:




Featured Photo by Ben Sauer on Unsplash

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TWL Working Mom

Jennifer is the owner of TWL Working Moms. She is a full time teacher, a mom & step mom, and NBCT Facilitator. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.

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