Connors has been making images for more than 25 years. He started as a teenager in his basement, developing images in a traditional darkroom as a hobby. Still, he worked for 15 years in corporate America before deciding to return to his photographic roots seven years ago.
"I was looking for a way to make a living doing something I truly loved," says Connors of hismotivation to start Coast Highway Photography. "Plus, I wanted to work for myself in an environment where I wouldn't have to be on a plane every other week."
His decision was a smart one. Since opening his business, Connors has seen strong gains every year. In fact, 2010 was the best year yet measured in revenue and profit!
Perhaps one of the factors in his success is how he handles his family photography focus. Connors says that his specialty is capturing clients in environmental locations that have a special meaning to them. "I love to photograph any moment in personal and family history, which is the best way to build a strong, versatile business," he says. Plus, such settings provide clients with images that are very special to them...and they tend to buy more and larger prints, increasing his profitability!
In addition, Connors learned inkjet printing and began printing his own work on large fine art paper, which has become a successful product line. He displays seven 60-inch prints in his studio and many others that are 40 inches or larger on, as he says, "beautiful paper that literally lasts for hundreds of years."
"I've built a brand around this concept and tell clients that we're in the 'family heirloom' business," adds Connors.
Although his business found success quickly, Connors knows that his biggest challenge is new client acquisition.
"We've built client loyalty programs, but at our price points, most clients won't come to us every year," he explains. "That means finding new clients is the single most important marketing outcome we work towards."
In order to face that challenge, Connors has built great partnerships with other relevant businesses, has done a lot of pro bono work, and has donated many sessions to worthy charities. And that's not all he's done to increase client awareness...
"Two years ago we moved to a larger retail location on the perfect street in North County San Diego: Cedros Avenue and the Cedros Design District," adds Connors. "I can track many tens of thousands of dollars to our walk-in business now."
While Connors did not have an opportunity to attend a formal photography school before starting his business, he believes that the education provided by PPA has been crucial to his success. PPA competitions at the local, state, regional and international levels have also helped Connors to become a better and better photographer.
"I've taken great advantage--and have been a good student--of all the awesome educational opportunities offered by PPA," he adds. "And competition has allowed my skills to grow while affording me some very good marketing hits through degrees earned and awards won."
Where will photography take him? Who knows...but with his dedication to learning and growing, he's sure to be headed ever onwards and upwards.
Kevin M. Connors has been honored several times as the San Diego Portrait Photographer of the Year, California "Top Ten" and Landscape Photographer of the Year, and has earned a Photographer of the Year Award from PPA in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Read more about Kevin M. Connors here.
ALL IMAGES Â© KEVIN M. CONNORS