We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristi Hill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristi, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It’s funny because I never meant to become a pro photographer! I went to art school to be an illustrator and wanted specifically to illustrate children’s books. I only did photography as a hobby and it was mostly centered around traveling. I never thought about making photography into a career. I’ve always liked learning new things, especially creative past times, and I took a continuing education class at a local college for digital photography. The instructor had us photograph models a few times, which I really wasn’t excited about until I actually did it! I LOVED it! And it turns out I was pretty good at it. My instructor asked me if I had ever considered being a portrait photographer and the rest is history, really. I always wanted to do something creative for a living. I believe that my years of art training to be an illustrator really helped me to be a better photographer and it is ultimately what put me on this path. I started my photography business, first with high school seniors and families and some boudoir/glamour clients then weddings started to come my way and I realized that I could make a full time gig of that. I made a plan with my husband to take it to the next level and leave my regular 9-5 job. I did a wedding expo flying by the seat of my pants and booked 18 weddings from it within 6 months. That was the push I needed to get where I wanted to go. Today, I have a photography studio in downtown Loveland and am moving my emphasis somewhat into the boudoir/glamour and high school senior realm of photography because I really enjoy those genres most and believe them to be a niche I can expand on. I still do weddings and other portraits that come my way, of course, but I think my future focus will be more on the fine art portrait side of things.
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.
Art is such a personal thing, even when it’s my business. I may be hired by other people to create something that they have in their mind’s eye but it is still an expression of me and how I see the world. But it is also how I tell my clients’ stories. I get to become a little part of their lives and capture moments for them that will never be repeated but can be remembered forever in photographs. That is really powerful. It hasn’t always been easy, nor has it always been fun. As with everything, there definitely are challenges or bad times to overcome. I have been at this for 13 years and have run into just about every scenario or pitfall that can happen to a professional wedding photographer. I’ve had those moments where I thought maybe I wasn’t good enough or maybe there were easier ways to make a living but I always came down off the ledge with a little help from my rational husband and friends. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else for a living and want to continue for a very long time yet. Lessons learned? I have a lot. Especially on the technical side of photography. I’ve had to learn to deal with a lot of different kinds of people and their expectations. That’s not always easy. Patience is definitely necessary in this line of work but also listening to people and realizing that it’s not the Kristi Show. I’m providing a valuable service to my clients and my goal is to make sure they are happy with the results.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a tough question. It depends on the friend! But Colorado has a lot of beautiful landscape to check out and explore and most of my friends don’t live near the mountains so it’s super cool for them. RMNP is a must, of course, and I’ve taken friends in all season! Even the snow and wind! It’s an added bonus if they get the see the elk. If we are hanging out up there, I like going to Smokin’ Daves BBQ for a casual meal and a beer. If we wanted fine dining for a special occasion in Estes, I’d take them to Twin Owls Steakhouse. I live in Northern Colorado so I’ll often take people to Old Town Fort Collins because it’s a cool and quaint place to visit, especially when the festivals are going on. I like to go to Social for an upscale bar but if my friends are beer drinkers, we’d definitely visit New Belgium, Coopersmiths and Prost. I like eating at Austin’s downtown and the Himalayan Bistro off Harmony but there are lots of great places up there. For my shopping friends, we usually check out the shops at Centerra in the Loveland area and the Denver Premium Outlets in Thornton off I-25 and 136th. We’ve dropped a bit of cash there!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe several people a shout out! The instructor that put me on the path to portrait photography is G. Mark Lewis in Loveland. He and I still keep in touch today and I totally credit him for getting my wheels turning about doing photography as a business. I also owe a huge shout out to my husband, Steve Hill of Legacy CPA. As his business name might tell you, he is my business coach, accountant and general financial advice guy. He is also my rock and biggest encourager. Steve actually was the reason I took that continuing education class in the first place. He believed in my photography and thought that it had potential to become something awesome. He was right! Emily Moon of e.Moon Photography is the person who nominated me for this interview and she and I share our studio and often work for one another. We have become great friends and awesome resources to each other and I thank my stars every day that we met!
Hillside Studios e.Moon Photography