Ladypreneurs We Love

Lifestyle Photographer Kelley Raye

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We’re so excited to introduce you guys to Atlanta lifestyle shutterbug, Kelley Raye. Kelley shoots weddings, events, “rad people” and is one of our fabulous Leap Conference sponsors (she’s providing some lovely headshots for our attendees!). Learn about Kelley’s own leap up the ladypreneur ladder below!


Name: Kelley Raye

Age: 31

Current location: Atlanta, GA

Where are you from? Everywhere. Mostly North Carolina and Connecticut.

Education: I have a BA in Lifestyle Management and Communication from the University of Connecticut.

Business & Formal Title: Photographer

Tell us about your photography business. How did it come to be?

Photography was originally a hobby that I’ve had since I was very young. I used to move around a lot and started taking pictures to remember people and things. One day a few years ago, my girlfriend bought our first professional camera. We were preparing to start a whole different business. On Easter, I took some photos of my brother to give to my mom and everyone who saw them said they looked like they should be in a magazine. After coming to the conclusion that they weren’t just saying that, I agreed. I already knew I had a natural eye for photography, I just never thought of it as a business. I started building my portfolio the next month.

What is your company slogan/mission?

I just want to take badass, authentic-feeling photos that capture people being real. There is beauty in authenticity and I want people to know that who they are is beautiful. It’s ok to be non-traditional, it’s ok to take pictures…dare I say…somewhere besides the local park. Where are you really from? What do you really do for fun? How do you really dress? Who is your authentic self? What makes you rad? What is it about your life that you really want to remember? Let’s capture that.

Kelley Raye, Lifestyle Photographer

The Grind

What did you do before launching your photography business?

I was a Director of Sales for a hospitality management company here in Atlanta.

Whenever you decided that you were ready to take the leap, what were your next steps?

I am a leaper. That’s just what I do. I began building my portfolio in April and had started taking on a few clients. I had also been selling canvas art and art prints in my Etsy shop. By September, I had decided it was time to get uncomfortable. The hotel I worked at was a super comfortable place to work. You could end up staying forever if you wanted. But I’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My girlfriend was supportive, so I went and got a part time hostess job at a restaurant around the corner from my house so that I could supplement my income once I quit. Then I handed in my letter of resignation in October 2013.

What is the biggest thing you overcame launching your photography business?

I am still overcoming it actually. I was unaware how long it actually takes photographers to get steady business and income. I thought that it would only take me no more than 6 months to replace my corporate job income with photography income. Wrong! On average it takes photographers 4-6 years to build a business with consistent, steady income that they can actually live off of full-time. I’m on year 2 :) Heh.

Kelley Raye, Lifestyle Photographer

Would you describe photography as your “dream job”? Why or why not? What constitutes a dream job for you?

I would describe any job that I’ve created for myself as a dream job. Once I start traveling more then it will REALLY be a dream. I’ve wanted to be my own boss since I was very young. I used to fill up notebooks with business plans in between playing with my dolls. I had ideas on top of ideas. I never wanted to work for anyone else longer than I’d had to. That was never the plan. As long as I am working for myself, I am working my dream job. I plan to own a boutique hotel, a home décor store, a bed and breakfast, and some other stuff.

Any other projects/side hustles you’re working on? Tell us about them.

Yes. I can’t tell, but it’s an epic idea I’m working on with my girlfriend/future mogul. Maybe you’ll read about it soon.

Entrepreneurs live and breathe their businesses. How do you balance work and life? Do you think that’s even possible?

Hmmm. Balance is a funny word. Well, I try to remember to eat. I mostly get one meal in a day now. I also try to meet up with my other boss lady friends for coffee or an event. This allows me to step outside my business for a minute and not be so consumed. Until I get back home of course.

What does your daily routine consist of?

I wake up around 7:30A or 8A and work on my laptop until about 10A or 11A before my feet touch the ground (if I have nowhere to be). I’m editing, deciding what to post, actually posting, blogging, answering emails, meditating, updating my website, making/sending out contracts, scheduling meetings and consultations and triple checking my calendar. It’s amazing how long all this takes. Once I find a place to stop, I shower, make coffee, and walk the dog. Then I continue planning, brainstorming, reaching out to people, figuring out what holes to fill, work on any ideas I had, and do what I can before my evening shoot. By this time I have more to post, more emails to answer, more stuff to add to my calendar, etc.

You have to do it and you hate it – what are your least favorite tasks to do in your business?

My least favorite tasks would be taking/editing uninspiring photo sessions (can’t win ’em all) and anything accounting. I have a love/hate relationship with Quickbooks.

You’re on the verge of a business-lady-breakdown. How do you unwind?

Oh, so what do I do every day? Because I’m on the verge everyday. I text a business bestie and ask her if she can believe what just happened. She usually can’t. We rehash until we feel like we are not the crazy ones. Most of the time we aren’t.

Ladypreneur Living

What did you think you’d be doing now at age 10?

I was either going to be my own boss or a psychologist. Even if I had to be something, it was going to be something where I was on my own.

Kelley Raye, Lifestyle Photographer

Tell us 3 of your cannot-live-without ladypreneur apps.

Sunrise Calendar (if it’s not in my calendar it does not exist), VSCOcam (so I can edit my iPhone photos like I would my real photos), and Google Analytics (obsessed with the analytics of the traffic to my website).

Top 5 favorite cities? Miami. San Juan. Boston. Paris. Portland.

Red, White, Sparkling or stronger? Rum.

Tell us the best place to eat in Atlanta. If it’s your kitchen, share your best recipe.

Oh my, that’s tough. I love going to Desta, they have the best Ethiopian food in town.

Words to live by: “When it feels scary to jump, that’s exactly when you jump. Otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life. And that I can’t do.” From the movie “New York City, 1981 ‘A Most Violent Year'”.

In 3 years you’ll be: Living in a new city with my partner, traveling to fun places, chosen as one of the top 100 photographers, running successful workshops for girlbosses and eating 3 meals a day.

What advice would you give to budding ladypreneurs interested in photography?

I would say to figure out quickly what you don’t like to shoot so that you don’t waste your time taking on projects or building your portfolio with all the wrong things. Figure out what inspires you and then put yourself in the position to do more of that – even if you have to create it yourself. It also takes an extreme amount of time and patience to get your name out there so while you’re working at it, build a network of awesome people.

Anything else to add? Spill it: Being a Ladypreneur is hard work. It takes guts. It takes strength. It takes a little bit of crazy. But if it’s truly your goal, then you need to make it happen. You won’t be happy any other way. Be badass always. Always!

Socialize with Kelley


Ladypreneur League

Ladypreneur League is a social networking group and career and lifestyle platform for millennial women entrepreneurs. The organization's mission to create a hub for women business owners invested in supporting each other’s successes and interested in collaborating to embark on new projects.