Business Plan Challenge

Teenography: Weston teen’s business lets other students learn, profit

University School student Katelyn Barclay, who started her photo business Teenography as a sophomore, takes pictures at Tree Tops Park in Davie in March.
University School student Katelyn Barclay, who started her photo business Teenography as a sophomore, takes pictures at Tree Tops Park in Davie in March. Miami Herald

Some high school students babysit for extra spending money, but Katelyn Barclay had other ideas.

Instead, the University School student, now a junior, decided during her sophomore year to start a photography business that employs fellow teens. Today her business is generating revenue, creating jobs and attracting accolades: Teenography is the winner of The Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge.

The Weston teen had first became drawn to photography after signing up for a seventh-grade elective class, then continued to hone her work behind the camera.

“I am not super artistic,” Barclay said. “I can’t draw, but I love capturing a moment that no one else has.”

Barclay, 17, soon found herself plying her photography skills for family and friends.

“A lot of my friends and family friends would ask me to take photos of them, but I was taking a really rigorous academic schedule and play volleyball,” Barclay said. “I am in my school photography club, so I knew students who would also want the experience.”

And so Barclay started Teenography, which offers its services at competitive rates in Broward and Palm Beach counties. While the hourly rate for a professional may hover around $100, Teenography charges $40 per hour.

“One of the biggest motivators of why word spread is that you can’t find quality photographs at a price like this,” Barclay said.

Another added benefit, she says, is her photographers’ willingness to jump into a ball-pit or climb a slide to get the best shot.

“We thought we would be doing a lot of family portraits at the beginning, but we found our niche in the children’s party area,” Barclay said. “You want every moment captured, but you don’t necessarily need to hire $100-per-hour photographers.”

After an event or portrait session, Teenography’s website allows clients to review the photographs and finalize their selections.

Most of Barclay’s photographers are looking for more than just extra cash. She employs 15 other high school students, who are all mainly looking to gain experience.

“The experience helps them develop portfolios but also learn how to interact with clients,” Barclay said. “Learning to interact is helpful no matter what field they go into.”

Barclay says the business has spread mostly by word of mouth, but she also markets Teenography on social media.

“We post on Facebook pages, and we also do shoot charity events for free and ask they put an ad in their newsletter,” she said.

Teenography usually has three engagements scheduled each weekend. For Katelyn, the business’ biggest challenge is coordinating the photographers’ schedule — some of the photographers have yet to receive their driver’s license.

“There are a lot of kids that like photography, but it’s hard to find ones with the support and the parents to drive them,” she said.

She hopes next to expand to Miami-Dade County and is looking for enthusiastic young photographers.

“We are looking for photographers with the drive and personality to carry the Teenography name,” she said.

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