Future proofing through diversification

Photographer Rachael started her business, Rahera Photography in Palmerston North in 2011. The business idled along paying for itself as she raised her family and completed a Master of Fine Arts. But in 2020 a change in personal circumstances meant Rachael needed the business to start bringing in a decent income. 

She needed to think bigger and diversify. Her vision was to build a resilient business she could run from anywhere in the world.  

Diversification in action

Rachael is working on making her vision a reality. She recently moved her studio from Ashhurst into Palmerston North’s artistic hub, Square Edge. Her new creative space doubles as a shop where she sells her images and Ilford fine arts printing paper. She also prints images for other photographers using specialist equipment. 

An Ilford Master, Rachael uses her expert eye and in-depth product knowledge to ensure every image she prints is exceptional. 

She also runs workshops around New Zealand teaching people about printing, paper, and the basic elements of photography. 

Rachael says the workshops make economic sense as they require minimal over-heads, but retail adds an important income stream helping future proof the business.  

During lockdown, Rachael thought about things people could do with their spare time and realised there are lots of photo-related projects people never get around to, like printing family portraits or creating albums. 

It prompted her to consider how she could do more business online and keep earning an income when face-to-face transactions are not possible.  

The Rahera Photography website is now being revamped to make it a robust e-commerce platform. As well as buying products, customers will be able to upload their own images for Rachael to print and ship, and book into workshops. 

Rachael says if we end up in lockdown again, the contactless system will make it easy to keep the business ticking over. 

Discovering her passion

Largely self-taught, Rachael says she was an enthusiastic amateur” for years. Her love of photography emerged in 2007 when she was living in the US where she spent hours photographing hummingbirds in her back yard and was excited by the technical aspect of using a camera to capture an image. 

I liked the process and then to be able to take that full circle and produce a print photo – that was really cool,” says Rachael. 

She travelled the world capturing diverse landscapes before returning to New Zealand and going into business. 

Awards

Today, she’s an NZIPP (New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography) Master of Photography with one gold bar and has made it on the national and international stage with her stunning travel and landscape images, winning multiple IRIS awards. 

This year she was a finalist in the Landscape category of the prestigious RISE International Photography Awards.  

While she appreciates the accolades, Rachael says the feedback from judges is also invaluable.  

“For me, entering competitions is a method to grow and do better”, says Rachael. 

She looks forward to giving back to the industry as a judge at the next NZIPP Iris awards in Nelson this July. 

The future

Rachael’s biggest business challenge is learning about marketing and social media. Through engaging with CEDA, she’s been able to gain funding through the Regional Business Partners Programme to develop a marketing strategy for the business. She plans to do a course to upskill so she can build her presence and following online. 

As a photographer, Rachael is excited to help others discover the joy of bringing images to life through printing. With a creative spirit and a keen sense of adventure, who knows where she’ll take Rahera Photography in the future – watch this space! 

Check out Rachael’s work here

Rachael – Rahera Photography

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