Photographer Kelly Peterson recently opened The Pineapple Space, a unique shared space for creatives. She spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about her experience as a creativepreneur and the importance of sharing and creating space for others to flourish.
NAN PRICE: Give us a little background. Have you always been entrepreneurial?
KELLY PETERSON: I got my first camera in high school and I’ve been honing my craft ever since. I love taking photos and I find a lot of joy in taking photos of people and helping tell their story.
After college, I spent some time in the professional world working for someone else. Eventually, I was swayed by my parents. My dad owns his own business, which is where I get my entrepreneurial trait of wanting to work for yourself. My mom was a teacher, she’s since retired.
My career needed a change, so I went back to school to get my teaching degree. I taught second grade for five years and I loved it; however, I always did photography on the side.
Once I had my family, I decided that to take a step back from the classroom and see if I could make my photography business work. For the past six years, I’ve been full-time photographer.
Now that my kids are going to school full time, I began to question: What am I going to do? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return to the classroom.
NAN: Is that how you decided to create the space?
KELLY: Yes. I’ve always been inspired by community and bringing people together. That’s how the space came to mind. Plenty of times I’ve needed studio space last minute when it’s raining and I have a photo shoot scheduled outdoors. When I found this space in Plainville it was perfect. It’s 250 square feet with vaulted ceilings and tons of natural light.
When I think about the photo community, so much has changed from when I first started. There’s always been a great community of photographers and they’ve always been very supportive. Over the last few years, I’ve seen more community over competition.
The photographer next door is no longer your direct competition—they’re your friend, your resource, your network, and your community. Photography can be a very independent business, unless you have employees or a partners, similar to any other entrepreneur. You can be isolated if you’re not working with people often.
I love talking to people, being inspired by people, and brainstorming creative ideas for how we can better our community, each other, and what we offer. So, I wanted this space to be useful for more than just me.
The idea for The Pineapple Space had a dual purpose. I wanted a space for myself to work and create and feel inspired. I’ve worked with content creators for things like branding shoots. I usually go to their spaces to photograph but now I have the opportunity to have people come to my space—and their office doesn’t have to be perfectly organized before I show up. With this space, I can do headshots and branding and marketing photos right here in my own space.
My other goal was to have this space available for other creatives to use. This space is designed to inspire and create. It doesn’t have to be in the photography realm. It can be used to teach knitting, floral design, or marketing strategy. It’s an intimate space to meet and network.
I love this side of the business because I’ve always enjoyed telling people’s stories now other entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startups can use the space to share and tell their stories as well. Because I think the story behind the business is what’s going to make the business successful, not just the product they’re creating.
NAN: You’re creating a community for creatives.
KELLY: That’s the hope. I’ve been using social media to spread the word about the space and share some of my work. But it’s not just a space to show my work, it’s meant to showcase everyone’s. When other creatives create in the space, I want to promote and showcase their work, too.
I think our best resource is other human beings in the world. We just have to be willing to listen and work with others.
NAN: I have to ask. Why pineapples?
KELLY: When I was rebranding my personal photography business I wanted to include a pineapple in my logo for a couple of reasons. One, because it represents hospitality and welcoming. And two, because it’s like an apple, but much cooler. It’s funky and a little bit different—like me. I think that makes me relatable to a lot of people because we all have our own stories and we all have different things that make us unique.
Immediately when I walked into the space, I knew I wanted to incorporate pineapple in the name. It’s authentic. Also it’s welcoming and inviting and I want everyone to come. That’s why it’s called The Pineapple Space.