Bill Morgan of Bill Morgan Media spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about his entrepreneurial experience and keeping his business afloat during the pandemic.
NAN PRICE: When and why did you launch your business?
BILL MORGAN: I left my former life as a high school music teacher six years ago. I had been working as a photographer on the side for about 14 years and I always had it in my mind that I would focus more on photography when I retired. After a while, I realized that as much as I enjoyed teaching, I was getting more creative satisfaction from photography.
I decided to make that career change, rather than having regrets later on in my life. I was in a position where I could do it financially and I felt like I was at a place with my photography experience and skills that it made sense. Also, I was seeing some of my colleagues retire and then have health problems or wind up in situations where they couldn’t really pursue their post-retirement ambitions. That was another impetus to get me going sooner rather than later. So, I took an early retirement and formed the LLC in 2013. Once the school year ended in 2014, I went out on my own as a freelance photographer.
NAN: How have you created your niche?
BILL: Most of my work is in performing arts, the majority being dance photography. I also work with musicians and actors on promotional photography. With photography, it’s all about getting your images seen by the people you want to work with, so I’ve used my website along with social media to reach out to performing artists and institutions. This has helped in building relationships with several regular clients here in Hartford, such as Night Fall, the Bushnell Park Foundation, and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra.
The other part of my business is food and beverage photography for restaurants. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been able to experiment with more commercial styles in my studio at the Arbor Arts Center in Hartford—I’m using that work to help reach new clients.
NAN: In what other ways has the pandemic affected your business?
BILL: It’s been very difficult. Due to state restrictions on dance schools and restaurants, my photography business has dropped off during what would normally be a very busy time. Over the past several weeks, things have started to pick back up, but nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. Fortunately, there were several large jobs I had shot earlier in the year and payment was coming in from those shoots that helped me get through the first couple months of quarantine.
I resorted back to a former side hustle that became a detraction from what I was trying to do to grow my photography business. So, I took a couple of website design and development jobs, which was great. I have the time and have been able to do that work remotely. I’m looking forward to completely transitioning back to photography. But, in the meantime, the website design work has been a bit of a godsend.
With regard to the pandemic, in a way, I’m grateful that this situation has given me the time to really step back and assess what I’ve been doing with my own marketing efforts and to spend some time learning—because you don’t know what you don’t know.
Also, I’m currently in the process of talking to dance studio owners, dance companies, and dance professionals around Connecticut to see how they’re coping with the shutdown, and how they’re planning for the restart. I’m looking forward to having those conversations and sharing their stories through my website.
NAN: What do you enjoy most about working in the Hartford area?
BILL: Hartford is a wonderful city and it has some beautiful places to work with as an environment for my subjects—whether it’s a musician or a dancer or even just featuring the beauty of the city itself.
I grew up in a small town. So, I see a lot of fun here in Hartford and a lot of opportunities here for photography. I also enjoy spending time with and working with a lot of creative people here. That’s one of the things I’m really attracted to—working with other creative people and helping them tell their stories. I think those creative people are attracted to this type of metropolitan area.
1. Bill Morgan behind the scenes (Photo courtesy: Steven Laschever Photography)
2. Rosie Karabetsos, Night Fall Choreographer and Brooklynettes dancer (Photo courtesy: Bill Morgan Media)