We had the good fortune of connecting with Rob Sykes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rob, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
If five years ago you had told me I would be running a photography business, I wouldn’t have believed you. Five years ago, photography wasn’t on my radar. At all. I’m a Registered Nurse, and I’ve been working in the ICU mostly since 2014. I got into photo taking because of coffee. On my off days, I would visit specialty coffee shops in town. The way the baristas made the coffee became intriguing to me. Especially the latte art. I started taking pictures of the coffee and the baristas with my phone. At some point I met a photographer at one of these shops, Stephen Hebert. He showed me a small camera he would carry for every day stuff. He explained how I could take better pictures with it. I was sold. Gradually, I was learning techniques to make better looking images. After awhile of visiting so many coffee shops, taking pictures, and tagging the coffee companies in photos on Instagram, the owner of one of the shops took notice. By chance, I ran into him at a store. I was offered an opportunity to make photographs for his company’s social media. This was a turning point. It was then I realized, I can take photos of things I like, and maybe if the photos are good enough, people would like to pay me to take more photos. Fast forward about a year later, and a local barber shop approaches me for the same task, of making images for their social media. It was at this point are started to think about creating a business. Now I was managing multiple accounts. The additional income I was making seemed like something to leverage into a business. I researched the pros and cons of creating a business. Decided a sole proprietorship was the best fit for me. And here we are. I’m three years in to being a business owner.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a Registered Nurse. If I wasn’t a nurse, I probably wouldn’t be a photographer today. When I worked in the ICU, I worked three twelve hour shifts. So I had four days off. This amount of free time allowed me to think about what I wanted to do with my life, besides work. And this is something I am very grateful for. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job that my life doesn’t have to revolve around. So if I can share anything, become a nurse! If you have hobbies or desires to do other things besides work, become a nurse!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Coffee shops during the day. Chinatown, Sushi, and Taco Trucks at night. So for a week, we would be getting coffee every morning at Catalina, The Tipping Point, and Blacksmith. Then for breakfast, we would eat bagels from New York Deli, and breakfast tacos from Laredo Taqueria. For pastries, we’d hit Magnol French Baking. Best pastries in town. The line on the weekends speaks for itself. For lunch, we’d keep it light (to save room for dinner!). So probably stop by Romano’s Pizza, the best New York slice in Houston. Dinner time, we have quite a few options. For sushi, we have to stop by Nippon, Kata Robata, and Kokoro. For late nights, we’re going to Chinatown, hitting Fu Fu Cafe for some pork buns, fried rice and Tsingtao beer! Or, for Japanese street food, we’re heading over to Toukei. Only place in Houston I know that makes okonomiyaki. And they have a good selection of craft Japanese beer! After drinks, we could stop by MJ Pool House. Lastly, we cannot forget about the taco trucks. Houston’s taco truck scene is vast and delicious. For trompo, we’re going to the best, Tacos y Gorditas Correcaminos, on airline. Daniel makes the best pastor and it’s not even close. And for the best fajita quesadillas, we’re hitting Taconazo, a Houston staple.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are four people in particular I would like to shoutout. One, Stephen Hebert. He introduced me to the world of professional quality cameras. He has always been very generous with sharing his time and knowledge. Two, Paul Yoon. He and I would do coffee crawls together. He used the same brand camera as me, but knew a heck of a lot more about how cameras worked and what the best photo-editing programs were. Three, Max Gonzalez. The first person to offer me a job making photographs. This was a major turning point creatively. Thanks to him, I realized I could pursue the craft of photography, and make money doing something I sincerely enjoyed. Four, Stefan Heldzinger. A wizard at photo editing. He helped me tremendously with learning how to edit photos in Lightroom.