Entrepreneurship Stories: Black-Owned Business Month Series – Jerry King of J King Images
Entrepreneurship Stories: Black-Owned Business Month Series
Q&A Featuring Jerry King of J King Images
August is “Black Business Month” in America. To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Cherokee By Choice Investor Georgia Power to feature Cherokee-based black-owned businesses all month long. These inspiring stories will shed a well-deserved light on their incredible leadership, business acumen, and resilience.
“Georgia Power is proud to partner with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development to feature Black Business Month. Minority-owned businesses in Georgia provide over 575,000 jobs to hard-working Georgians and energize the state’s economy. Georgia Power strives to empower these businesses by building social and economic opportunities in communities across the state through our engagement and partnerships that incubate new business owners and ideas,” said Georgia Power Area Manager Jeff Butterworth.
This week, we’ll hear from Jerry King of J King Images – a headshot and professional portrait photographer based in Canton. Follow along on cherokeega.org and via social media to like, follow, and share.
Jerry King of J King Images
What inspired you to start your business?
Impulse. I always had an appreciation for photography, but I never saw myself as a photographer. In April of 2011, I bought a camera, and I fell in love with taking pictures. Nothing was safe from the camera, including your water bottle, dogs, cats, you name it. Next thing you know, I’m taking time off work just to do photography.
Toward the end of my law enforcement career, I thought, “I want to do so much more with my life.” Eventually, I decided I was going to quit law enforcement and pursue photography full-time.
How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?
Moving to Cherokee County was a fortunate mistake. Looking back, it was the best move I could’ve made. I met many people in Cherokee who helped me along the way, saw something in me that I didn’t see, and gave me opportunities and chances. Through those opportunities, I flourished. There are a handful of people that contributed my early success, which built a platform for me to expand. Even down to my landlord. He doesn’t know it, but I’m here because he was lenient with me during the hard times.
Regarding the culture, I was kind of skittish being African American coming to Cherokee. It wasn’t as diverse at the time as I would’ve liked it back in 2013. Prior to moving here, I was used to seeing a lot more integrated backgrounds. I originally thought it would’ve been a detriment for me to start a business here and coming into a place where I’m new, but I was proven wrong. Cherokee County has supported and welcomed diversity. I feel like I’m a part of the community and not a stranger. Cherokee is my home.
What advice would you give to other small business owners who want to grow/scale their business?
Don’t give up, and don’t listen to another person’s limiting beliefs. You always hear from people; whether it be your peers, family members, or outsiders saying, “You’re not going to make it,” or “Not many people make it…most businesses fail.” But you’re not most businesses.
You need to seek advice from people who are where you want to be, and not from people who are at the same place as you.
What kind of services do you offer?
Headshots, mainly. That’s my mainstay. I do editorial and commercial photography, and I’m trying to make the transition to commercial work with corporate offices that I work with, and more lifestyle and branding. I like a challenge, and I love interaction with people. I’m still passionate about photography even though I do it almost every day. I wake up, and I’m excited because I get to meet someone new.
You have such a unique personal story and professional career including military service, law enforcement, and S.W.A.T. team experience), what led you to pursue photography?
I spent 27 years of my life in uniform and service to country. I had always given, given, and given. When I look back on it, I always sacrificed for others and never did anything for myself. In law enforcement, I was meeting people at their worst. I always met someone who was distressed or doing something bad. For the 11, almost 12 years I was on the SWAT team, I had very little contact with the general public. Usually, I was kicking in doors or doing operations, so I had a very jaded outlook on life.
When I picked up the camera and started playing, I realized how much joy it brought me, and I was like, wow this is where I want to be (photography). I wasn’t strapping on body armor or a gun, but I was hanging out with people. I never would’ve met people without the camera. The camera has always been my passport into people’s lives. I’ve gotten to know people; I’ve made some really good friends. I have even connected with people internationally, which I never would’ve done had it not been for photography.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a photography business?
Networking has gotten me to where I am today. I would say, if you’re in it for the money, find something else to do. If you want to see success, be humble and chase relationships – not transactions.
How does having a professional headshot elevate your personal brand?
A well-done headshot can take you places. I’ve known people to get called out of the blue and get jobs simply because of headshots that I’ve done in the past. Someone may say, “Someone saw my headshot, and I got a casting call for something I didn’t even audition for.” A lot of times people look for something that will be the cheapest, but a well-done professional headshot will allow you to stand out and show that you’ve invested in yourself. Those companies know it wasn’t cheap for you to get a well-done headshot, and they know you invested. A well-done professional headshot will allow you to stand out in the right way. Don’t be afraid to expand and come out of your comfort zone. Trust in the process; it’s a collaboration, it’s not all on the photographer. It takes teamwork to get the best shot.
To learn more or book a photography session with J King, visit https://www.facebook.com/jkingimages.