Field/Type of Business: Travel |Nature | Military Photographer, Photography Workshops,
Battlefield Journalist, Freelance Travel Writer
Name: Melanie Barrow
Status: Army wife of active duty Soldier, USAF Veteran, Army/DOD Contractor for JRTC
Hometown: Grew up in Chicago but Honolulu is home.
Installation: Fort Polk, Louisiana
Business Name: BodhiKai Imagery
Business Website: http://bodhikaiimagery.wordpress.com/
Facebook Business Page: www.facebook.com/bodhikaiimagery
Twitter Business Page: islandhopper808
Business Phone: 337.718.2472
Business Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How long have you been a business owner? I have been working as a freelance photographer and writer for about three years now. Last fall we moved from South Korea to Louisiana. In South Korea my husband and I worked with an international news publication writing Travel Guides for countries like Guam and Thailand. We had been planning on starting a photography business since 2005, but with eight cross country or international moves, schools, two kids being born, and living abroad, the time wasn’t right until recently. BodhiKai Imagery finally became “official” in December 2011.
When, where and why did you fall in love with what you do as an entrepreneur? I have been photographing everything for as long as I can remember. As an eight-year-old kid, I wrote my own newsletter, “The Boling Family Newsletter,” which would include photos. I would send it to all the members of my family around the country. My grandparents pretty much raised me, and they had nine kids, you can only imagine how big my family is!
After joining the military and traveling all over the globe, I made it a point to document that moment in time, whether it is still or cinematography. No matter where I was, I always had a camera within arms reach. While living in Hawaii I began to get some direction as to where my photography was headed. After moving to Korea in 2009, I made it happen. I submitted work to Hawaii Magazine, and with that first submission, I had my work published for the first time. That is how it all began, and I haven’t looked back.
What are your future goals involving your business? My goals are constantly going through an evolution. If I see something I want, I go for it. Life is too short for “would a, could a, should a’s.” Short-term goals would be to work with my Mount Everest of travel publications: AFAR and National Geographic. Long-term would include traveling, maybe living in off the grid places like the South Pacific or Madagascar. I’ve been known to drop everything and take off on a whim, so it’s definitely not a farfetched dream. Maybe once my girls get a little older, we could volunteer in a place like South America, and send dispatches back. Who knows; life’s possibilities are endless, and you never know where the military will take you.
What advice would you give to others pursuing the dream of entrepreneurship? DO NOT WAIT. If there is something in life that you want, go for it. It’s that simple.
What challenges have you faced in your business? When we moved to Louisiana, I had to get really creative. I thought that when I arrived that I could work with a tourism commission, or even the base newspaper writing/photographing all things local, but that wasn’t the case. I racked my brain for months trying to figure out how to push my photography forward. The local area around Fort Polk is very small, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting five portrait photographers. I really didn’t want to conform and shoot portraiture; this would be something that my heart wasn’t in, at all. So, I pursued the local art community; surprisingly, it is very active in this part of Louisiana. I networked and got involved with different events, businesses, and galleries, and this year alone I will have two solo art shows. I never dreamed I could have my “own” art show, ever. So, the fact that I made the best of a difficult situation allowed me to come out on top in the end.
What is the most memorable/rewarding moment, thus far, you’ve experienced with regard to your Business? I think that my most rewarding moment thus far was when I saw our first travel guide in print at a restaurant in Daegu. Daegu, South Korea is about the size of Houston or Chicago, and we had copies of the newspaper EVERYWHERE. Since it was a monthly publication that just began, I had no idea it was already in circulation. Seeing our story and my pictures in full color was outstanding. After that, I started getting emails or random people coming up to me asking me for travel tips about Guam and Thailand. Since then, I have wanderlust pumping though my veins-this was a very special moment. Plus, it was something that my husband and I achieved together as a team. Not many married couples can say they did what we did. So it set us apart from others, and that felt wonderful.
In one sentence, describe what photography means to you. I once saw a quote written on a wall, “Eyes like a Shutter, Mind like a Lens,” this pretty much sums up my love affair with photography to a T.