Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Heather Gill | Business Owner | Snapshots Photo Booth
This month we’re featuring a very special and unique business owner. I had the pleasure of meeting Heather through planning my own wedding. We booked one of her open-air photo booths for our wedding in 2019 and it was an absolute hit! The guests loved it and couldn’t get enough of it.
Heather brings the type of creativity we need in the events industry. She is always thinking about the next big thing – the next big idea. And boy does she deliver, every single time.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Heather on multiple occasions and more recently for a styled photoshoot in Syracuse showcasing her newly announced VW Bug Photo Booth. She literally can take anything and turn it into a photo booth and people love it!
Snapshots differentiates itself by ensuring experience is at the forefront of all of their designs. Their photo booths are more than just a structure you walk into and take photos in. They are fully designed, elaborate and exquisite experiences. From the props inside the booth to the décor outside of the booth. And let’s not forget the actual photo booth! Snapshots has a running list of different styles of photo booths and they all completely enhance the overall feel and experience of any event.
I could go on and on about Heathers work but this month it’s about her story. So without further adieu…
Enjoy her story below.
Tell us about yourself - Where are you from and what did you wish to be when you grew up?
I am a wife of 28 years to my soulmate, Bill, and a mother to 4 children Emily (27), Troyer (26), Brodix (23), and Ellen (22). Growing up, I lived in Clayton, New York and currently reside in Plessis, NY. I grew up on a dairy farm and honestly thought I would be a farmer’s wife (such a cliché). All I ever wanted was to get married, have children and that was simple enough for me.
What brought you to where you are today?
Flash forward to 40 years old, my kids were grown up and self sufficient. I started thinking “Now what do I do?”. So, I went back to college and graduated from Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management and began my corporate career at Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina as the Director of Sales and Catering. During that time, I had purchased a photo booth. I thought it would be a great way to make a little extra cash here and there. I soon realized the freedom in working for myself and how I could dictate my own hours and income. I could work less and make more than working a full-time job for someone else. So I had to make a choice, and here we are!
What do you do professionally?
I actually run 3 businesses. Snapshots Photo Booth, Magnolia Public Relations, Signtech and I may have one more in the works to be announced! My main focus is Snapshots Photo Booth. We travel all over NYS with our mobile and vintage photo booths.
What is the number one struggle you find in owning and running a business?
Honestly, stepping away. I feel like I have to be on 24/7. If someone emails or calls me, I have to answer them back that very minute. I try not to, but I just can't help it. I find myself creeping towards my workstation all the time and before you know it 3 hours has passed.
What does a day at work look like?
When we have jobs going on it is crazy, I won't lie. We can do 6 functions in one day and many weekends we do multiple days. Here it is in a nutshell:
Monday - I always take this day off because my mind and body need it.
Tuesday - We break down all the photo booth kits so we can sanitize, wash and put all the gear back in its rightful place. I design all of the photo booth strips that we will need for the current week.
Wednesday- Put each photo booth together and remove the photos for each event off the computers and load with the next events photo strip. Each kit is assigned an attendant and the function sheet is placed with said kit.
Thursday - Props, Backdrops, Styling Inventory and whatever is needed for the event is boxed up and each photo booth is placed on a rolling cart and lined up for pick up.
Friday – Another cleaning day to make sure the shop is organized. We also upload all of the photos from each event to a gallery, send the link to the client along with a thank you and do any social media posts and gallery’s for guests that were at the event. Then throw in the office work, emailing, social media blasts and well LIFE and you have yourself a very busy week!
What do you spend the majority of your days doing?
I spend the majority of my days organizing everything for all our events, contacting clients and thinking of ways to make my business as efficient as possible.
What year did you start your business and how long did it take to acquire a consistent client base? I began my business in 2014. I would say that within 6 months I was literally crushing it in this area. I mean I feel like I came in with an impressive and unique style and people just gravitated towards it. My photo booths were not your cookie cutter setups. 90% of my business is wedding based and I feel like I connect with couples easily. I understand that this is a big day and I can offer them a photo booth package that blends in with any venue and is styled to match their wedding vibe. I have secured a few corporate clients that hold annual holiday, summer and company parties each year. And when our schedule allows, we are able to throw in some birthdays, anniversaries and community events. We always have a full schedule.
What do you do to stay involved in the community?
I have 4 events every year that our company does at no charge that I have been doing for the last 6 years. Some are non-profit organizations and some are just organizations with causes that I believe in. I wish I could do more, but it's just not feasible.
What do you enjoy most about running your company?
Honestly, it is not about the money, like most people think. The biggest thing for me is the freedom to be in charge of my own destiny.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I see a fleet of VW bugs. I see Snapshots Permanent Install Photo Booths in stores, banks, spas, bars, restaurants and anywhere else I can put one. I see virtual photo booths for concerts, sporting events, tourist attractions. I see it all! I set goals every year. Sometimes I meet them and sometimes they get pushed to the next year and that is okay. It keeps me grounded and focused.
What advice would you give to people your age looking to start their own business?
Haha...I keep saying if only I would have found this path 30 years ago! lol I just turned 50 this year and I feel like you’re never too old to try something new. What is it they say...age is only a number?
If a child walked up to you and asked for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
I feel like the kids growing up right now have an endless possibility of careers. They are not limited in any manner. Take a chance, don't let the fear of failure hold you back from what you crave to do. You are the effort that you put forth. You will amaze yourself with the things you can accomplish if you just take a chance, make the move and go for it.