A local photographer and entrepreneur starts a business out of her home.
Facebook Marketplace, a 3-year-old, an inspiring lunch with a friend and the rise and fall of the sun. All of these elements helped Rachel Kathleen Gorden turn her love of photography from a hobby into a thriving business.
The Maple Grove entrepreneur was a registered nurse at North Memorial Hospital, working in the gastroenterology department. She loved her work but, eventually, the department was shut down.
“I came from the thinking that you had to go to college and follow one path,” Gordon says. “But along the way, I met a photographer friend for brunch, and I realized I could make a career out of taking portraits.”
Gordon had been taking photographs as a hobby since nursing school. She started her full-time business, Rachel Kathleen Photography and RK’s Luxury Studio, in November 2021.
“If you lean into a gut instinct, something we tend to push aside, you may be surprised at what transpires,” she says. “My nursing career gave me perspective. I thought, ‘If I can do that, I can certainly own my own business.’”
Along with her passion for her work, Gordon loves showing her now 6-year-old daughter, Clementine, that women can do anything.
“We can create together. [Clementine] thinks the studio is her dance and art space, and she’s loving having her photo taken. We learn by what is modeled in front of us. Somewhere, there are seeds that I am planting for her,” Gordon says.
According to Gordon, starting her business heavily relied on determination and out-of-the-box thinking. She also credits her then-3-year-old with inspiring her. As Gordon tried to think of ways to entertain Clementine during the pandemic, she noticed the sun rise and set through the three large windows of her living and dining rooms. That’s when she realized that her home could be a beautiful photography studio.
Gordon sold her furniture from those spaces on Facebook Marketplace, painted the entire space white, bought a backdrop and created an eclectic 1920s Victorian style feature wall. The wall has what she describes as a “modern Paris feel” and is “posh but not snobby.”
Gordon rents her space out to other photographers. She also sets her studio up for specific seasons and events. For example, she creates holiday and spring installations and set designs for her clients. She also photographs bridal parties, boudoir sessions and elopements.
Her spring set design includes a flower installation with a swing and vintage chair. This installation is created out of lush florals, periwinkle and creamy soft tans and blues—a setting reminiscent of a Parisian garden. “I do something different every time,” she says. Last year, her spring design included peaches and pinks.
She plans her studio time around family sessions in January and bridal parties in the summer, and keeps space open for photographers working with newborns. Her favorite subjects to photograph are mothers with their kids. “I had a knack for capturing femininity before becoming a mom, but suddenly, I feel part of a different species, and I look for those moments with other moms in the photos that I take,” she says.
Above all, Gordon wants to encourage others to go after their own business ownership dreams. Her ideas have already helped two photographers start their own home studios. “Whatever your gift is that you’re not doing is denying the people who need that gift. We all have the tools,” Gordon says. “As soon
as I picked up a camera, there was something being sparked unlike anything else. And it turns out you can actually get paid to do what you love.”
Smile Like Nobody’s Watching
Here are Gordon’s tips on getting the most out of your next photo shoot:
Plan ahead. Think about your goals for the shoot and the looks you’d like to include. If you have specific locations in mind, think about the surroundings to complement your pictures. But remember, you are the focus of the photo.
Ask for advice on what to wear. Don’t be too “matchy-matchy.” And maybe leave the jeans for a farm or outdoor shoot.
Practice your look. Hair and makeup prep helps you feel confident on the day.
Get comfortable with your photographer. Communicate in a way that makes you feel trusted and understood. So, spend a little time getting to know the person behind the camera.
Eat, drink and rest before your photo shoot. Simple distractions can show up on a photo, so minimize the little things.
Have fun! It may sound obvious—and easy to do—but this is one time when you really want to showcase your beautiful you. “You’ve invested time and money. It’s a moment in time you will never get back,” Gordon says. “Someday, years from now, a picture can take you right back to that time in your life. It’s a precious way to share who you are for generations to come.”