Sharp focus leads to success

Photographer Amanda King’s passion has seen her named the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards 2019 emerging business winner.  Photo: Supplied
Photographer Amanda King’s passion has seen her named the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards 2019 emerging business winner. Photo: Supplied
A snapshot of an ageing Highland bull was the catalyst that spurred rural photographer Amanda King to take a personal project and grow it into a successful company reaching international markets.

And she does it all from home on the family sheep and beef farm at Glenroy, near Windwhistle up the Rakaia Gorge, juggling it with married life with two young children aged 5 and 3.

The self-confessed city girl has taken the move to rural Canterbury in her stride, setting up her business, ''By the Horns'', two years ago after moving to Windwhistle from the Wairarapa.

The family have since moved 10 minutes down the road to Glenroy but are still on the same farm owned by the family of her husband, Fraser, who was keen to return to work on the family farm.

Mrs King sends her photographs, featuring large shots of farm animals, florals and coastal and rural landscapes, around the world in large-as-life print form: framed, unframed or on canvas.

The photographs are taken either on the home farm or on location around the district and beyond.

''Being surrounded by these beautiful creatures every day inspired me. They have such gorgeous and unique personalities and that is what I try to capture,'' she said of her animal photographs.

Mrs King then got into florals, taken from her large garden at Windwhistle, and coastal prints harking back to growing up in Australia, where the beach was a big part of her life.

''I can just stare at the ocean all day. So I love taking photos of it.''

Her most popular overseas market has been Australia but there is growing demand from online customers in the United States, two prints a day being shipped there.

''It isn't easy, I won't lie. I take every day as I go. I swear, every day I almost miss my daughter's school bus. That is my life. Constantly chasing my tail. My family are so important to me. On the days my little boy doesn't go to preschool I try my hardest to spend that quality time with him. As I know, next minute he will be at school. Time just goes way too fast.

''But I do what I do, because I absolutely love what I do.''

Her advice to other women thinking of setting up a business was to recognise there would be good days and bad days and a lot of learning.

''Running your own business, particularly by yourself, is stressful, but also so rewarding and totally worth giving it a go.''

Mrs King has always had an interest in photography but her passion was shaped after attending a course intended to help her teach it to school pupils.

''I'm a schoolteacher by trade,'' she said.

''The principal put me through a photography course, as he wanted me to teach it as an options class at the school. That is where my passion began. I did further study and courses in my own time.''

She created a children's/family photography business she was able to do outside of her teaching role and continued it when the couple moved to Canterbury.

It was while she was having a break from teaching after the arrival of her first child that she sought a large print for her wall.

''I decided I wanted a print (particularly of a Highland cow) on my wall. But I wanted a large one with a great effect. I was at my friend's place who happened to have a gorgeous old and grand Highland bull. They allowed me to take a photograph of him. I printed him up to 100cm x 70cm and had him framed.

''He became popular and I had requests from people to do some for them. I started taking photos of our own farm animals and created a Facebook page of By The Horns.

''The Facebook page took off. It grew from 1000 followers to 16,000 followers very quickly. It is now 27K.

''I created a website to sell my prints and haven't looked back.''

The success of By The Horns has led to Mrs King being named the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards 2019 emerging business winner. She was prompted to enter the contest by a friend.

''At the end of the day, I told myself it was a great experience and I had nothing to lose. If I didn't win, I would learn from the experience. These last two years have been a massive learning curve for me ... Of course I am still learning,'' she said.

It was a pleasant surprise when she found out she had won.

''I had to read the letter I received from them about five times that I had won, just to make sure before I told anybody ../ I still can't really believe it. I guess it will feel very real at the awards ceremony [next month in Wellington].''

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