Entrepreneur Megan Drane is an international award-winning photographer with a successful photography business in the suburbs of Chicago. She is nationally known for her work with special needs children.
Entrepreneur Interview Q & A:
1. What is your business/Business Name? What does your business do?
Firefly Nights Photography. We are a high-end portrait studio catering to maternity, newborn, children, high school senior, family, and athlete photography, both in studio and on location.
2. Why did you get into this field? What opportunities did you see?
I sort of fell into this by accident. While I did take formal classes in film photography, I am self taught for editing. I became interested in photographing my first child. When my best friend had her first child, she asked me to do newborn pictures for them. Well, they shared those pictures with everyone, and then their friends were asking me to take pictures, etc. It very quickly grew, and after a couple years, it was a full-fledged business. During my seven years in business, I also saw a gaping need for working with special needs children, especially with those on the Autism spectrum. Having a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have an intimate understanding of the challenges inherent in taking pictures of these children, and have found that families are incredibly grateful to finally have a positive experience.
3. What have been your biggest challenges?
Pricing myself to truly make a living. There is a big difference between doing something for some extra money and making a living. It was also a huge step when we opened a retail location – that required a lot of faith that this business would continue to thrive
4. What has been your greatest reward?
Being able to do something creative while still making a good living – better than when I was in the corporate world. And I won’t lie – it is very rewarding and validating to be named “Best Photographer”. Emotionally, my greatest reward is being able to give back to the special needs community by offering special needs sessions.
5. If you could change something, what would it be?
Less competition. 😉 I would love to have a bigger studio, but there is nothing better in my area that wouldn’t be drastically more expensive. I also wish I didn’t work as many hours as I do.
6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be?
Respect your industry. This means not undercutting it by pricing yourself so low. It devalues the industry as a whole. Business ethics are important, but can be lacking when you are just starting out and wanting to gain clients. Also know how much work you really do – all those odds and ends, emails at night, etc. Keep track of how much you really work to determine what you should be making to make it worth it.
7. Social Media. Yay or Nay?
An absolute necessity in this day and age.
8. How do you market your products?
I have built my reputation, so now I have a strong online presence through good SEO and Facebook. I do monthly ads in two magazines. I also have a referral program. I have tried direct mailings and silent auctions in the past, but those were not profitable for me.
9. Is your business a service or a product? If you are a product, how do you handle production?
Photography is considered a service industry, though we do have products.
10. What is unique about your business?
Firefly Nights Photography is known nationally as the premier special needs photographer. One of my passions is working with children who have special needs, especially children on the spectrum. Because my own son has Asperger’s Syndrome, it is a personal interest of mine. I understand the special needs involved when working with children who have sensory issues, physical limitations, and behavioral challenges, and love providing pictures for their families. My assistant also has a child with severe special needs – cerebral palsy and brain damage.
We are a high-end boutique studio catering to clients who want something more than they can get elsewhere.
11. Sell me your product/service.
Megan Drane, of Firefly Nights Photography, is an internationally award-winning portrait and commercial photographer. Firefly Nights was originally created to capture the magic of childhood – the laughter, the mischievousness, the beauty, and the joy. While we started off as a baby and young child photography company, we evolved and expanded our unique look to also include high school seniors and adults. By capturing people’s true essence, in combination with mastered lighting and experience, we create true pieces of art. Our goal is not to provide you with pictures that will be on your desk until the next milestone, but to provide art that can stand the test of time.
Firefly Nights Photography is a licensed photographer and a registered member of Professional Photographers of America, as well as with the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. We were named the 2011 Director’s Choice by Stories of Autism; the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Best Photographer by Naperville Magazine; and 2014 Best Photographer by Glancer Magazine. We also won Best Image in the 2012 international NAPCP image competition in the high school senior category. We have been featured on Chicago’s ABC News and had articles published both locally and nationally. Our work can be seen in doctor’s offices, calendars, international magazines, national advertisements, catalogs, and countless homes.
12. How can people get in touch with you? What’s your website/Contact information?