Turning her side hustle into her day job was inevitable for culture and colour lover Kate Dyer.
The creative behind Urban Safari Photography recently returned to Adelaide after nine years living interstate, and says it was travelling abroad that ignited her passion for photography.
Kate talks turning her side hustle into her day job in 2012 – and never looking back, her photography services for business, including the perfect headshot update, and her hopes to get her hands on Jonathan Van Ness, impressive locks and all.
Lauren // Thanks for being our business partner of the month for February! How long ago did you launch Urban Safari Photography and why?
Kate // Thanks for having me! I’ve been shooting professionally for 12 years, but Urban Safari actually began a few years before that, making handmade jewellery and then dabbling in graphic design.
I began freelance work as a uni student, to help me save for overseas travel. The extra money was handy, but it also gave me a creative outlet that became far more valuable. I was never content with a 9-to-5 office job and quickly became bored and frustrated with doing the same thing, day after day. I thrive on variety! So having a ‘side hustle’ made the day job more tolerable, until I went full time in photography in 2012.
// It sounds like you sort of fell into photography. How did that come about?
I discovered exchange programs while studying marketing at uni, and did three trips over my degree, the last being a year abroad in France. Living and travelling in Europe was a huge motivation to improve my photography skills so I did a lot of self-study via YouTube, kept a blog of my adventures and shared plenty of photos on Facebook over the year.
When I returned home to Australia, friends who had seen my travel photos began asking me to shoot their weddings and babies. It grew from there, thanks largely to a support network who passed my name around. I had always wanted to run my own business and photography just sort of nudged its way in.
When I moved to Melbourne in 2012, I decided to give it a go full-time… and here I am!
// What types of photography services do you offer clients?
I specialise in branding photography, which basically means photos for businesses and brands, including personal brands. Lots of headshots, portraits, teams at work and behind-the-scenes type content. My approach is light, bright and fun, but still polished and professional. I work with a lot of creative individuals, but also larger corporate clients who want a less traditional look.
// You offer a very cool headshot day service! Tell us more about this and why it’s so great for us busy women in business?
We are living in a time where profile photos are unavoidable, and no-one should have to make do with cropping a dark image from their friend’s wedding for LinkedIn. A lot of online stalking goes on in the business world, so it pays to have a recent, professional shot when your potential clients or employer goes Googling you.
I created my Headshot Days as quick, easy and painless opportunity to create a few great images of yourself, that you’ll actually want to use. I promise, everyone is far more photogenic than they realise! The sessions are only 30 minutes and you get to choose 10 images from a gallery of around 25-30 options, for $250. I use beautiful spaces, play some fun music and you walk away with images you love.
// You also offer an awesome service to create your own image library. How important do you think imagery is as a way to tell your brand story?
Can I say crucial? It’s crucial! Photos give so much context to any story. They’re very easy to consume, and as humans we are innately drawn to images, especially those with other humans in them. They’re highly accessible and can connect regardless of language or literacy.
A brand story that is supported by images is more trustworthy, relatable and believable – if the images are genuine. Creating a custom image library, as opposed to collecting stock photos, will improve consistency across your visual content, and allow you to get so much more personal. In my experience, those are some very powerful tools!
// You come from a family of entrepreneurs. How much did they inspire you to follow in their footsteps?
Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to be self-sufficient. If I wanted to know something, they’d hand me an encyclopedia and tell me to look it up; these were pre-Google days! When I asked for money, they told me to get a job. I worked in my aunt’s costume hire shop, where her creativity flourished. I watched my Dad create his own dream job in a very niche business, and recognised the flexibility and freedom it allowed him. I wanted that for myself too.
Our school careers counsellor encouraged the more traditional, “safe” paths, but my stubborn streak pushed back and I decided self-employment would give me more control over my career.
“A lot of online stalking goes on in the business world, so it pays to have a recent, professional shot when your potential clients or employer goes Googling you.
I created my Headshot Days as quick, easy and painless opportunity to create a few great images of yourself, that you’ll actually want to use. I promise, everyone is far more photogenic than they realise!”
// Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who takes their livelihood into their own hands is an inspiration to me. There’s a lot of people who talk about doing things, but a lot less who actually do the things. I read that refugees are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs as the general Australian population, and look at what many of them start with – or more accurately, without.
The guys on the street selling The Big Issue. New Australians with a family to provide for. Teenage mothers who keep studying and become employable. To support yourself financially, when you’ve had to overcome so many hurdles, deserves the spotlight.
// What do you love about being part of the SA Woman community?
I’ve just moved back to SA after 8 years away and was really happy to find such a welcoming and supportive community to help me settle back in. Working for yourself can be pretty lonely, so the events are a great excuse to get out of the home office and in front of like-minded peers.
While I’m still new to the community, I’ve already made some great connections and find the Member Facebook group a great source of recommendations, feedback and answers to my late night ponderings! I’m looking forward to attending my first Connector event this month and meeting some local ladies.
// If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would you choose and why?
Right now I’ve got a huge crush on Jonathan Van Ness, from Queer Eye. I love the way he really listens to the people he works with, particularly their insecurities, and encourages them to overcome those and find happiness in their own skin. Plus, he has great hair!
I’d also love to create an ongoing series of social enterprise owners. People doing good things, telling good stories and leaving the world a little better off. We could all use a bit more good news these days.
Kate Dyer, Chief Colouring-in Officer xx