We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Thompson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colleen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Hi, I’m Colleen Thompson a south Florida Brand Photographer and Artist. I have lived in Boca Raton with my husband and 3 daughters since 1994. In 2016 I gave up my teaching job to pursue an entrepreneurial business blending both of my creative pillars photography and painting. I was approached by a friend who works in the travel and resort business to manage the social media for the Pelican Grand Beach Resort and Spa located in Ft. Lauderdale. I eagerly said yes, although I have never done social media except briefly for my own personal accounts. My job was to go to the resort and take lifestyle photos and post them three times a week. Four years later, I had three main contracts to photograph lifestyle images for Pelican Grand Resort in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Solé Miami in Sunny Isles Beach FL, and Las Alcobas Resort and Spa in Nappa Valley, CA. These images were used for the resort’s websites, marketing, and social media platforms. My studio at the time was in the Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach FL. My photography paid my studio rent while I was pursuing a Pet Portrait Painting business, which became popular when I posted a picture of a watercolor of my Golden Retriever “Rhett” on Facebook. I hit the entrepreneur jackpot in 2018 by successfully blending my talents of photography and painting. I took the plunge and became Colleen Thompson Art, LLC and my business was born.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In 2019 I was busier than ever, as a Brand Photographer, I was flying to Napa Valley and frequently spending a lot of time in Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Having my studio in Delray, I felt like was always commuting. I quickly became overwhelmed with pet portrait orders and the beginning of burnout started. I had decided I was going to give up my Delray Studio on February 1, 2020, when my lease was up because my photography was being shot on locations – not in my studio. In order to regain my joy of painting, I doubled my pet portrait painting prices and limited my orders to one painting a month, capping at 12 a year. This was the perfect plan until the COVID pandemic hit March 10, 2020, and everybody’s life was changed forever! Thankfully, I had just moved out of my studio, so not paying rent was a financial comfort especially since ALL my resort contracts were canceled. As a habitual optimist, I realized the lockdown was giving to us as a GIFT of being PRESENT in the moment! I had forgotten what it was like to spend much-needed quality time with my husband and daughters. So, I used my precious gift (time) wisely, diving in and educating myself on the business of brand photography.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE this question especially with my experience with travel and resort photography! My top favorite places in south Florida: Delray Beach – Atlantic Avenue is hopping with small shops and a ton of restaurants. One of my favorites places to listen to live music is tucked out of sight called 3rd on 3rd in the heart of the artist district. The Arts Warehouse is a must-see with the First Friday Art Walk and Artist in Residence program which I proudly am an alumni of. Boca Raton – for families Boca Raton has the most incredible beaches and parks such as Red Reef Beach, Sugar Sand Park, and Patch Reef Park. If you’re a shopper who likes to find a good happy hour, Mizner Park and Royal Palm Plaza will not disappoint. Fort Lauderdale – The Pelican Grand Resort has a family-friendly atmosphere. Located directly on the beach with a lazy river wrapping around their zero entre pool and the BEST Sunday Brunch in town. Right up the street is Las Olas for a variety of restaurants, bars. For kids of all ages check out the Museum of Discovery and Science and the Broward Center of the Performing Arts. Miami – Looking for a Miami feel that without the hassle? Solé Miami is a boutique resort located in Sunny Isles Beach North Miami. Close by you can explore Bal Harbour and Aventura. As an Artist, Wynwood is a creative delight that is ever-changing. The Florida Keys – A Florida favorite is a weekend in the keys. First stop, Robbbies in Islamorada for a fun lunch and feeding the scary Tarpons. The last destination is Ocean Key Resort and Spa located at Zero Duval Street, Key West. Every room has a view and adjacent to Mallory Square in historic Old Town. Key West, has a long history of hosting artists, authors, and characters of all kinds and the perfect way to end a get-a-way!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with Catherine Cummings and Bill Foster of Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Without the support and trust of these two professional managers, I would never have pursued my photography business.
Instagram: @colleenthompsonart https://www.instagram.com/colleenthompsonart/?hl=en
Fayth Photos / Fath in Your Brand Tina Valent Siebelts