PhotographyThe Creative WorkforceNate & Ali Happer are the founders and owners of their own photography business The Entrance Collective. This husband and wife power couple are taking photography and turning it into an art. They have an incredible ability to capture the mundane things of life and turning it into pieces of art with their cameras. They have an incredible eye for detail and ability to see beauty in the unseen. Kansas native Nate & Canadian born Ali are taking the photography world in their hands and turning into visual storytelling.
The Creative Workforce : The Entrance CollectiveMonday, July 14, 2014
Tell me a little about who you are & what you do:
ali - I’m Ali & I am a Canadian born 24 year old ice cream loving girl who takes photos. & loves Jesus. I really enjoy going new places & finding the hidden gem. Whether that be a place, a city or a person. I truly believe that everything is & can be beautiful. I strive to take photos that inspire people & make them feel emotions. I want someone to look at my photos & feel like they were there, or that they know the person in the picture. I love being friends with our clients & laughing with everyone. Life is short, make it fun.
nate - Hi. My name is Nate Happer. not Harper. Happer. I am a maker of creative things & storyteller. I get inspired super easily, and love to challenge as much of the status quo as I possibly can. I believe that the world is lazy & complacent and that the world is saturated with a bunch of s*** & it’s truly my goal to create things that matter. To impact people & change mindsets & show the true things that matter in life. I love Jesus & believe that without him I probably wouldn’t be here anymore. But through the journey that I’m on, I’ve learned that without Him nothing really matters. If we have the ability to create a platform to shine even a tiny bit of His light, hope & love, then that’s really all that matters. Through the things I create, the stories I tell, the words I speak.. I’m on a journey to incorporate His love as much as possible & not get swept up in the things of this world & the hype of the people around me.
How long have you guys been taking photos?
ali - I think I was about 15 or 16. I can remember the first time I used my parents digital camera in our backyard after a rain storm & I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe the things I could do & they way the pictures looked. I took that camera everywhere. I documented everything & loved that I could instantly see the photo on that little 1 inch screen. I took photography classes in high school & I remember standing in the dark room by myself developing photos & thinking ‘this is me at my best right now. this is who I am.’
nate - I’ve been capturing images since I was 16. I took a photography class when I was in 7th grade, but never did anything with it. It was always my sister's thing. In high school I needed an extra credit, so I took a darkroom class & just got lost in the images I could create. I guess it kinda went from there. That lead to film-making, film-making lead to making random stuff for my house & now it’s my life.
Why did you guys decide to start your own business?
ali - I think we kind of fell into it. I never ever EVER imagined that I would be a photographer, let alone a wedding photographer? We shot our friends’ weddings because we loved them & loved taking photos. We had the equipment & it was just fun! I think the first moment I thought we could do this was when we were getting our wedding photos taken. I was in love with the way our photographers worked together, and how easy they made it seem. [shout out to Jordan & Nichole Gibbons. we luh u.] But in reality we didn’t really decide until sometime last year. & it was kind of a ‘hey..we could probably do this!’ kinda thing. & here we are!
nate - It started as a means to an end. A journey to a place. But then it turned into being able to provide someone something that just..didn’t suck. You look around & people get paid everyday to make stuff that’s awful. That makes me so frustrated. I hate seeing garbage that people had to pay a lot of money for. So for me, what was the start of a means to an end, became a way to provide a service that tells a story, that captures an emotion, makes people proud of what they’re doing. & for us, allows us to build a place that we love, that we are proud of. Something that we can then give back & build our local.
What are some challenges you face with owning your own business?
ali - One of my biggest challenges is comparison. I am always seeing people way further into being a professional photographer than I am [or we are] and I think ‘why am I not like that? why am I not where they’re at?’. I’m always reminding myself that good things take time & we’re only officially a couple months old. I have to always keep perspective & receive encouragement. It’s hard, but I’m learning. I’m never fully satisfied with my images, but theres a good balance with that. It keeps me working harder, but also if I’m not careful it can eat me up.
nate - everyday is a new challenge. Everyday is a step of faith. It seems like we’re constantly walking on water. Looking down & then sinking & then having to refocus our faith. We have to begin looking up and understanding that it’s going to be okay. We are creatives, not really business people. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges. We want to create, but we have to run it as a business as well, so we’re just learning. I’m so passionate about what we do that I’m willing to learn. The hardest part of it all is that you see that you’re great at something, and you believe that, but you have to get people around you to believe it. But we’re all in. We’ve given our heart & our soul to this & I know we’re going to make it. It’s not going to be easy but it will be worth it.
What is the best part of your job?
ali - To be honest, I love all of it. I love the look on people’s face when they see a photo of themselves & say ‘woah! that’s me!’. I love playing with light & movement. I love sending a couple their wedding photos, knowing that they’ll cherish them forever. & at the end of the day, I really love doing it all with Nate. He’s my biggest supporter & challenger. We work well together & are always learning from each other. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s totally for us.
nate - Sitting on the other end of the table from my wife.
& knowing that everything we do, we do it with integrity. We do it in a way that we believe in & no one else can take that from us.
Some advice that you can give to creative business owners?
ali - Be confident. be proud of what you create. try new things. ask question. oh man, ask all the questions in the world. the worst thing is to try to do it on your own & think that you’ve got it figured out. people have done this before, ask them about it.
nate - I think the biggest piece of advice is to know why you’re doing something. Know why you want to start your own business, know why you’re creating what you’re creating. Because if you don’t know why, when it gets hard, you’ll have nothing to push you forward. Don’t start because someone else did. Don’t start because it’s cool or trendy. Don’t start because you saw someone else do it. Start because you have a passion. Start because you have the drive & desire to be you. Be unique. Be individual. Whether you believe it or not God has created you to be you. Believe in yourself.
Nate, when did you know you wanted to marry Ali?
Wow. That’s a good question. Before we even started dating. I had a super wise film teacher who told me that before he married his wife, he had a list & married the girl who checked all the boxes. They’ve been married for over 40 years, so it worked for him. So I made my list & Ali slowly but surely checked all the boxes. I guess it’s pretty crazy to go by a list that included some pretty random things [including ‘having an accent’] but..she’s perfect.
& I truly can’t imagine doing life without her. We’re coming up on two years of being married & it’s really the greatest feeling to know that we’re in this together & that we’re building something amazing. I love you Alison Happer.
How can someone set up a shoot with you?
Check out our website. Fill out the form on the bottom & let’s make something amazing. We definitely want to make cool things, with amazing people, anywhere in the world. The world is really actually small..so lets do something together.
Follow Nate & Ali on Instagram, @nathanhapper & @ali_happer
All photos featured on this blog post are property of The Entrance Collective.
I was not compensated to create this post and all opinions are my own. The Creative Workforce is a section in my blog to promote small and local business that are having a positive impact in their realm and are striving for excellence in their craft and social awareness. These are businesses that are continually pushing to take our world forward through their creative expression.