I first came across the beautiful portrait photographs by Iyanka Cooray on Instagram and, as I’ve learned from interviewing him, we both have connections to Dartford, a dream of traveling the world with our cameras and a love of Paul, the French bakery! Below, Iyanka talks about the biggest challenge he faces in pursuing his photography as a business, how social media has helped him build connections and community and the joy of spending time with his baby daughter Lily.
Little Observationist: Give us your tweet-sized elevator pitch. What’s your business all about?
Framed Fantasies: To provide a photography service that’s fun, caring and flexible, yet staying professional at all times. People are beautiful!
LO: Now tell us more: What sets you apart from your competition?
FF: Photography has always been a passion, long before I could afford a decent camera. I was always the one taking photos even around friends and family, and I just wanted to treasure good moments. Framed fantasies was born out of the same passion, and I bring that childlike eagerness to photograph my subjects and to preserve their memories the way I know how to, and love.
LO: Share a bit of background on yourself and your business.
FF: I’m currently based in Dartford, Kent, and most of my photography work has been in an around London. I work full time in the city as an Operations Manager for a marketing company, so Framed Fantasies is still a part time endeavour. It was during one of my roles as graphic designer that I decided it was time I took photography seriously rather than just a very fun hobby. The company I worked for spent an incredible amount of money on stock photography, and that was probably the first indication of how I could use photography to make a decent income as well. I have also been fascinated by portrait photographers and how the good ones manage to tell a story within a picture. That is my ultimate goal. To tell stories, to frame life’s fantasies.
LO: Which social media platforms do you use for your business? Has this been time well invested? Any tips for newcomers?
FF: I use Instagram to showcase my photography and also interact with potential clients and fellow photographers, and skilled individuals linked to photography. I believe this has helped me become a part of a photography community in London. A tip I learnt from a blog was to comment and like on potential customers posts and to interact with other instagrammers as much as possible. I believe Instagram is one big community that can help each other get their businesses up and running! I also use Facebook and Twitter to compliment my Instagram posts.
LO: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given that still resonates with you today? And your favourite resources for small business?
FF: I have a mantra that I always think about before I start my day. It’s a quote by Richard Branson: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
This leads me nicely on to the second part of the question. We are lucky to live in an age where we could more or less learn anything on YouTube and Google! I use YouTube a lot to learn about photography, editing pictures, retouching techniques and for just about anything I want to know more about.
LO: What have been your biggest challenges and greatest rewards as a small business owner?
FF: My biggest challenge is time. As I work full time, most of my photography and editing work are done outside of work hours, and during the weekends. I’m also a member of a few organizations, while being a husband and a new father. But I do believe, there’s nothing we cannot do if we put our mind to it. There are certain days where I might be lucky to sleep five hours, but knowing that I spend my time doing things I enjoy and I’m passionate about, gives me the strength and energy to make the most of the day! My greatest reward has to be when I get good feedback from clients and when they’re genuinely happy that I’ve been able to capture their beautiful moments that they can cherish forever.
LO: What are your hopes for your business going forward: what would you most love to achieve as a short-term goal? And long term?
FF: As a business, one of my short-term goals is to get a consistent stream of jobs coming in which will then help me grow my business even further. I have a few exciting projects planned for the near future, which includes a black and white portrait gallery. Exciting times!
My main long term goal would be to travel the world as a photographer and to capture wonderful people and memories from around the world.
LO: Little Observationist is all about appreciating life’s little luxuries. Name three you’ve enjoyed recently.
FF: Cuddles from my daughter Lily, who’s only 17-weeks-old. Watching Adele at the O2 Arena. Coffee from Paul : The French Bakery.