We had the good fortune of connecting with Mylah Renae and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mylah, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The thought process behind starting my own business isn’t a traditional one. At the time, I was at a job where the boss was uncaring of his employees and rude to any customers who disagreed with him. Being in that environment was taking a toll on my emotional wellbeing. It also had a schedule that was completely opposite of my husband. As a newlywed, I hated that my new husband was more of a roommate than a spouse because we never saw each other with such conflicting schedules. I knew that job wasn’t the place for me long term and that I needed more flexibility in my work schedule so I could spend time with my husband. So, I took the leap into photography way before I was ready (I would not recommend this route). I did take a couple of part time jobs before photography was able to give me a paycheck. It has paid off, but the process wasn’t an easy one.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a wedding photographer, I believe the thing that sets me apart from others is the fact that I can make anyone feel confident in front of the camera. Brides have told me that I’m the only photographer (including friends with iPhones) that have ever been able to capture their Groom’s real smile. Grooms have told me how much they were dreading taking photos, but afterwards admitting to actually having fun during their session. Couples have told me that having me photograph their wedding was like having a friend take photos of such a special day. Treat others as you want to be treated. Underpromise and overdeliver on every step of the process. Be thankful for each couple who trusts you with their memories. Don’t only serve the couple, but serve their family and vendors when given the opportunity to do so. These are guiding principles for my business.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Salado, which is a town known for its love of the arts and antique shops. After you check out the various galleries and puruse the antiques, you’ll want to try Barrow Brewing. They have a fabulous Apple Cider and are located along the river. It’s super peaceful to sit along the banks with a friend, cider in hand. There’s usually a food truck available, too. Chupacabra is also a must-stop for beer lovers, with over 100 beers on tap. There are several wineries in Salado that are popular. Salado actually has a legend about a mermaid named Sirena and hosts a festival and mermaid parade in her honor. The Salado Glassworks offers classes on glass blowing and allows you to watch the artists at work. Alexander’s is a restaurant that offers various themed dinners. Johnny’s is our the go-to place for concerts.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh man! So many people deserve praise and adoration and thanks for getting me to where I am today. Of course, my husband is and has always been my biggest cheerleader! I’m so thankful to have had him by my side as we built this business. Not only did he agree to live off of one paycheck (WOWZA) when I wanted to quit my job to pursue photography, he also gave up half of his weekends every year to go with me to photograph weddings. He gave up birthdays, anniversary weekends, and holidays with me to serve my clients. We celebrated on other days, of course, but it was still a way of supporting me. When I would second guess if pursuing this crazy dream was worth it, he would be the one to remind me that it was. Y’all, I totally married up and I know I wouldn’t have this business without my husband. In fact, he’s the one that bought me my first DSLR camera way back when. My dad, to this day, reads all of my blog posts to check my spelling and grammar. English was my worst subject in school and still isn’t a strength of mine. He even has helped me pack up from bridal shows, which he did for years. One year, the show fell on Father’s Day and he was still the one who showed up after it was over to help me load my car. My mom is my insurance agent and has always made sure my business was protected. She has also sent her friends’ daughters’ to me when it was their turn to get married, so she even sends me business! Yea, my parents are pretty awesome and have helped my business in so many ways! There are two fellow photographers who held my hand and let me get my bearings for weddings under their guidance/mentorship when I first started. I’m so thankful for Kara Marie and Jennifer Weems! They allowed me to shoot weddings with them and what I learned on those days is invaluable. They didn’t just allow me to shoot, but they taught me, as well. Kara would sit with me after weddings to go through my images (the ONLY photographer who ever did this with me) to show me what was working and what could be improved. Jennifer taught me about light and how to create my own when there wasn’t any sunlight available. They both also allowed me to use images I took at their weddings in my portfolio to show potential clients, which is huge. Being able to witness someone in real time do what you want to do will teach you more than any workshop, book, or online course. It’s also great to have peers in the same industry. They help me with tough situations, can commiserate with me, and are just an all around great support system. They’re also a built-in referral system. When one of us is already booked for a wedding, we can send new inquiries to each other so we know the client is in great hands, even if we can’t be there. Angie King and Allison Jeffers are wonderful peer support to have. There are also wedding venue owners who started around the time I jumped into photography. Being at the lower price point for weddings in those beginning days means we grew up together. They’ve supported and encouraged me by allowing me to be at their open houses, putting me on their preferred vendor list, and sending engaged couples my way. Tricia Pool of Twisted Ranch and Kristine Rhodes of CW Hill Country Ranch helped me then and still to this day. I also love that they’re both open books who have shared business ownership with me. There is no way I can leave off my savior, Jesus Christ. I have so many cheerleaders in my life because of my relationship with Him. He also gives me a hope when I believe the business isn’t where it needs to be and start to worry about things I shouldn’t. He’s always provided. There are so many people that have encouraged me through entrepreneurship that I can’t name them all. In business, your network is your net worth. Without your people, it’ll be super tough to have a business that survives. Love your people well.
Mylah Renae Photography