Sakura Spotlight Series: Anna Lee
We so admire any artist who makes a living by running their own business. The world can be an unforgiving place and for someone to be able to utilize their talents and put them into a profitable business model while also pursuing their passion takes not only talent, but guts! And the amazing Anna Lee has got it all!
Tell us a little bit about your business and what you do.
I’m a music and entertainment photographer, specializing in tour documentary. That means I travel on tour with musicians to provide a constant stream of content for their fans to follow along with.
I spend about half the year traveling. When I’m not traveling, I’m based in Los Angeles, shooting for various local music clients and their labels, managers, and events.
My work can be found on my website, and Instagram is frequently updated:
What made you aspire to be an entrepreneur?
The photography industry lends itself to contract work, so it was a natural path for my career. There’s a huge market and need for freelance content creation in nearly every industry, especially these days. And photography is at the heart of visual content.
For me personally, I get so much joy and satisfaction from the process of building something from nothing. The sense of accomplishment and independence I feel from being able to generate my own livelihood is very empowering. And after being self-employed for nearly a decade, that independence is very much part of my identity as a creative and as a person.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before starting your own business?
I wish I had known that there is no secret sauce, no one path or formula to success. And that success looks so different for everyone. I wish I had known that the path you think you’re on might change, and that’s okay. And I wish I had known that when you’re an entrepreneur, you design your own job description, and your business can look however you want it to. Your path doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s in your industry or otherwise. I believe that there’s a learned confidence from these things, which serves to perpetuate your continued success.
What has been the most successful avenue for building and growing your brand/business (social media, ads, word of mouth, referrals, etc.)?
My most successful tool is a marketing campaign that I created called #ALMfancam. The first fan to bring a disposable camera to the show in their city gets exclusive backstage photos. I collect the camera from the winning fan at the beginning of the day, fill it up throughout the day and during the show, then return it to its owner at the end of the night. When they develop the film, they get a surprise set of exclusive photos. I only do one of these per show. This encourages fans to get in line early for the show in their city, it builds excitement for the event, and most importantly it creates awareness for myself by getting fans involved with the content creation process.
What are the aspects of your business that you enjoy the most?
I most enjoy the level of access photography affords me to be involved with various forms of entertainment up close – music especially. Also, the intense comradery formed between small groups of people on tour together is really special. While it’s very fun and rewarding, it’s also very trying and challenging but when you have a small group of people going through those experiences together, working toward the common goal of putting on amazing shows – there’s just nothing like it.
What do you love doing in your free time to refuel and have fun?
There’s no substitute for solid alone time, and for someone who tours full-time, time in your own city with the comforts of home becomes something you don’t take for granted. Living out of a suitcase on the road, never settling in one place for months at a time, really makes you appreciate your own bed, friends, food, shower, etc.
Creatively, I like to refuel with an outlet that is artistic outside of photography. Last year, I officially launched my greeting card company! It’s called Whatever Forever Press, and specializes in sassy and relatable sentiments for any occasion.