Tell us about Allegra Anderson Photography
I’m an Emmy award winning professional photographer and owner of Allegra Anderson Photography, based out of South Glastonbury, Connecticut. I photograph for commercial, editorial and advertising clients, and my work is focused on lifestyle photography, including home and garden, food and travel, and portraiture. I love working with local and regional businesses to create custom photography to help drive their marketing efforts. My entire life, I always knew that I wanted to be a photographer, so I went to Tufts University and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in photography. After graduating, I started working at the Boston-based TV show This Old House, taking behind-the-scenes photographs, portraits, and before-and-after photographs of the home renovations for both the TV show and This Old House Magazine. In 2013 I re-located back to Connecticut to pursue my dream and opened Allegra Anderson Photography. Some of my local clients include Vineyard Vines, Hartford Young Professional & Entrepreneurs (HYPE), the MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford Prints!, CT Eats Out, Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, CT Main Street Foundation, Dover Saddlery, ShopRite, and the YWCA.
Why did you decide to start your own business in Greater Hartford?
I decided to start my business in the greater Hartford area for two main reasons. First, I’m from Ellington, CT and have a strong network of friends in the area that I met throughout my childhood and my time at East Catholic High School. Second, I find that people in this area are easy to get along with and eager to help one another succeed. I put a high importance on building strong and genuine relationships with both my clients and friends. I wanted my home-base to be somewhere that I could grow my roots and establish long-lasting bonds, both personally and professionally.
How does your business impact the community?
As soon as I moved back to Connecticut I joined HYPE, the American Society of Media Photographers, and the board of the YWCA New Britain so that I could immerse myself in the community and in the Connecticut photography world. I have been able to connect with amazing business owners and individuals through these organizations. Being able to produce a tangible product that will broaden the outreach of their business and help them to grow and succeed makes my job even more rewarding. Connecticut is home to many entrepreneurs, artisans, craftsmen, and creatives who care passionately about their community. Nothing gets me more excited on a photoshoot than hearing why the
owner loves their work and then being able to capture that through unique photography. I love connecting with my clients personally, collaborating, and spreading the word about what they are doing.
What words of wisdom would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur who may be hesitant to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
It is definitely an intimidating idea to give up a steady paycheck to start your own business, but if you commit to making a plan and taking steps every single day to execute that plan, I really believe that you will reach your goals and become richer for the experience, feeling the fulfillment of building something that is truly your own. Educate and immerse yourself in your craft. Get involved with organizations that will help you give back to your profession — not only will it enrich your community and make you feel good, it will open up more valuable opportunities to expand your professional network. You can start with your local professional organizations and organizations that are relevant to your business. Also, never turn down an opportunity or an invitation to meet new people. Owning a business is a lot of hard work but it is easier to do if you have and maintain strong, genuine relationships and surround yourself with a team of people who have skills that can help you. You’ll always learn more by putting yourself out there, learning from others, and sharing your knowledge.
What is it like being an entrepreneur in Greater Hartford? What difficulties or challenges have you faced?
One of the biggest challenges of owning your own business is wearing so many different hats. People often ask me “what do you do all day when you’re not taking photographs?” My answer is “what don’t I do?". As a business owner I am a photographer, designer, book keeper, office manager, and editor - to name only a few! With so many roles, it is especially important to surround yourself with people with whom you can learn and exchange ideas. By doing this you can become better at the roles you have to play and familiarize yourself with resources to outsource the work that you doesn’t require your personal touch. The Hartford area is filled with people who are eager to collaborate and help you succeed, and you need to take advantage of that in order to be successful.
What is your vision for your business venture over the next five years?
Over the next five years I plan to continue to immerse myself in the local culture and meet even more business owners and professionals in Connecticut. I’m also excited to participate in more community-based work that will highlight the amazing people I work with, starting with my personal project: Interesting Faces in Spirit Places, a portrait series featuring professionals in a location that speaks to their life’s work and passion. Much of this will focus on the food and art scene in Connecticut, something I am extremely passionate about. I also plan to open my own photography studio and potentially expand my brand into other businesses such as Cafe Allegra!
This blog series, posted in partnership between HYPE and reSET, offers a platform to showcase the commitment that the Greater Hartford Region Entrepreneurs have for their work and this City. It will examine how young entrepreneurs have chosen their work, and give examples of the ways in which they are having an impact in their communities.