Texans in My Path-Skylar Reeves: A Texas Tale of Photographic Success
By: Penelope Butler, Contributor
It’s a rainy afternoon in Austin, Texas and Skylar Reeves, photographer and owner of 15 Minutes of Fame, Skylar Reeves Photography is speaking to me by phone. She has just returned from a vacation in the Bahamas with her close-knit family… the first vacation she has afforded herself in several years. Building her business has not allowed her much free time and she will readily admit that even her few spare moments are spent editing her photographs. In fact, she admits to almost being consumed by editing, frequently starting at 6:30 in the morning and working tirelessly past midnight, seven days per week. Appropriately enough, it is the editing that gives her photographs a creatively unique look.
The last time I saw Skylar was in Crystal Beach, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula. She was shooting my children and I, as well as many other families scheduled for beach portraits that weekend. Booking 15 Minutes of Fame parties seems to have launched Skylar Reeves Photography, in Texas, to heights that Skylar states she had been unable to attain in Atlanta, Georgia, the headquarters of her business for the first seven years.
Both beautiful and modest, Reeves credits her clients with the nativity of 15 Minutes of Fame Parties. After launching her business in Atlanta, Skylar made a spur of the moment decision to return to her home state of Texas. The usually independent and fearless adventurer admits to being apprehensive about her decision to move her studios to Austin, Texas after painstakingly building her business for seven years in the Empire State of the South.
Coming home proved to be a stroke of genius for this native Texan. Her business almost immediately took off after a friend offered to host a party for Reeves and invited eight families over for an introduction to Skylar’s photography. At the end of the evening one of the mothers in attendance approached Skylar and asked if she could host her own party for the photographer. And thus, the birth of the 15 Minutes of Fame Party.
On a menu of customary photography services, the 15 Minutes of Fame Party, is like a sample platter. Giving you a sampling of what is featured for a nominal fee. Usually hosted by an interested party, friends and family of that person select an appointment time on the scheduled date of the party. Once the schedule is filled and confirmed Skylar shows up at the location of the party on the appointed date. Each family or individual is then allotted 15 minutes of Skylar’s time and allowed one change of clothes, if they choose. The edited images are then burned on to a compact disc and shipped via UPS to the clients door. The entire process takes 6 weeks, from the date of the shoot. The client is then free to purchase additional portraits from Skylar Reeves Photography or simply bring their cd to their local photo lab and order their favorite images as they choose. The idea is pure genius. Truly a steal for the client, who gets a piece of art at a drug store price, but also a way for a photographer to showcase their talent and earn a living.
The parties have been such a success that Reeves has hired photographers in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, DC and Malibu to keep up with demand. After contemplating which way to go when it came to expansion, Skylar consulted with her father and business owner Mike Reeves. The elder Reeves owns businesses in both Houston and Austin and according to Skylar is always delighted to discuss his daughters business ventures. After one of their father daughter dates, when talk turned to expansion Skylar and Mike decided rather than franchising Skylar would hire photographers in other cities and train them in her style of photography on the white backdrop. In effect, once the contracted photographers shot a party in their area they then forward the prints to Skylar for editing. Being extremely hands on in all aspects of the business, this would give Skylar the ability to continue doing all of the editing. However, this too has proven a challenge with Reeves employing 2 other editors at this time and in the process of training 3 more. This plan has now lent itself to an extremely rigorous schedule as most weekends will have 7-8 bookings of Fame parties scheduled in different cities. Business is so brisk Skylar has even involved her mother in picking out her favorite prints after sending her in excess of 300 at a time to pour over. A task Skylar’s mother, Susan Reeves, states she loves participating in.
Quite a success story for a girl who moved so often she attended five different high schools before graduating from Gulf Shores High School in Alabama . Reeves admits she just wasn’t interested in school. After suffering a spider bite in that left her paralyzed on the left side of her body and blind in her left eye for one year, Skylar’s mother, Susan, an English teacher, home schooled her for two years. At the end of that two year period Skylar begged to return to school and chose to attend Clear Lake High School. However, not one to follow the crowd and always the trail blazer, Skylar decided to follow her own instincts. Luckily, her parents allowed it, and so began her adventures at a series of institutions not limited to, but including a boarding school in Maryland, which she chose to attend because it provided her with the opportunity to pursue one of her other passions, riding horses. Although Reeves admits that change seemed to be a constant in her life, in some form, she also recalls always being interested in photography. Of her time in Maryland, Skylar fondly recalls begging her roommate to allow her to photograph her. In the end she returned to Gulf Shores High School before continuing on to photography school.
As for the future, Reeves wants to continue to expand her business. She is currently planning to expand into Shreveport, Louisiana; Buffalo, New York; Palo Alto, California, St. Louis, Missouri and Charleston, South Carolina in 2013. This will not be an easy task for Reeves who is a perfectionist, and will have to continue allowing herself to delegate more work to her staff. However, with another family vacation scheduled for September, Skylar will have to take another self imposed break from her passion, and do just that. She seems eager to see her family again, this time in Nappa, and knows her work will be waiting upon her return. As for Skylar Reeves Photography, it is certainly not limited to 15 minutes of fame.