Deacon Profile: Katie Sprague

Katie Sprague is a sophomore communications major and studio art and psychology double minor from Augusta, ME. Sprague owns a photography business based in both Maine and North Carolina in which she specializes in wedding and senior portraits, family photos, newborn photos, self portraits and landscapes. Discovering her passion for photography at age 11, Sprague has turned it into a business that has become popular among her peers at Wake Forest and people across both states.

How long have you been doing photography, and what inspired you to start it?

I started taking pictures in the sixth grade. There was a girl who I really wanted to be friends with that had a nice camera. So, I convinced my dad to take me to Best Buy, and I spent pretty much all the money that I had from birthdays and Christmas on buying a new camera. The girl gave it up within two weeks, but I didn’t; I kept it up and began working on my school’s yearbook.

I took my first set of senior portraits when I was going into the eighth grade, did my first wedding shoot at fifteen (which my parents had to drive me to, because I wasn’t old enough to drive) and started my own photography business at sixteen.

Is there anyone who inspires your passion for photography?

When I was going into eighth grade, I started going to these workshops at Maine Media Workshops, which, on top of being a college, run workshops for young artists and adults during summers. I was introduced to a photographer named Cig Harvey, who, like me, does a lot of portrait work. We have very similar styles, and so she has always been a big inspiration to me.

What made you realize that photography was more than just a hobby but was something that you really wanted to pursue?

Once I entered high school, I started to take my work a lot more seriously; I worked in the marketing and communications department at my high school doing photography for different events on campus, like sports photography for the athletic department.

I realized that there were so many jobs that used photography; not just marketing and communications but also outreach for various organizations. With social media and the Internet, pretty much every job now needs photography, and for me, it’s more than just taking photos; it’s telling and sharing stories with brands and organizations.

Do you find it difficult to carry a camera around campus with you and to find times to take photos?

Freshman year, it was really hard to find time to take pictures because I didn’t really know anyone at first, and it’s hard to just ask someone, “Can I take your picture?” It’s a very personal thing for a lot of people; some of my friends were very into it and some of them were not at all.

But for a lot of the organizations that I am involved with on campus, I work as a photographer. I’m a part of WFU Style as a photographer; I’m a part of their media team and I do photography and videography for them. I’ve also been involved in Student Union as a photographer, and I recently was hired by Campus Rec as a photographer. So, it’s pretty much in everything I do.

How do you hope your business will progress in the future? Do you want to keep taking photos, or do you think you will eventually move on to something else?

So far, I have been extremely lucky to be very successful in my business. I think that I started at a good time because I started in my senior year and I did mostly senior portraits, so I knew a lot of people my age who I worked with.

As I’ve gotten older, through word-of-mouth and through social media, my business has spread. I don’t think I will keep photography as my main source of income, but I hope to always keep it on the side, and I hope to always have creative endeavours in whatever I do.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to start a business of his or her own out of a hobby?

I think my biggest piece of advice is to give it your all. People tend to think that it’s easy, especially with a business like photography. They think, “Oh, you’re just taking pictures,” but most people don’t understand that when you own a business, you are your own marketing director, PR manager, writer, photographer, and you even have to do your own accounting. You just have to be well-educated and give it your all in every aspect in order to succeed.