Hattie Chancy, a junior finance major from Atlanta, has never posted the pictures from her sorority date nights. The pictures from the photography companies her sorority has hired have been late by two weeks, the images would download poorly or the process would just be messy.
She still doesn’t have the photos from her freshman year formal, which she said were “sentimental.”
Experiences like these spurred Chancy and her two friends, Will Johnson, a junior finance major from Atlanta, and Caroline Dietrich, a junior marketing major from Atlanta, to start their own photography service to better serve the needs of college students.
Started in August 2019, Flash Photography offers photography and videography services to student organizations. Flash independently contracts 10 photographers and four videographers for events. They have shot 35 events so far, with a mix of photo and video.
The three students went through the University of Georgia Idea Accelerator Program, an eight-week entrepreneurship program that prepares students for owning their own business by building skills and networks. The program is also a semester-long competition where the team with the best business model and idea wins a final award of $5000.
Chancy credits the Accelerator Program with helping her, Dietrich and Johnson define who they were as a group and the markets they sought to enter. Flash earned second place out of 50 teams involved in the program.
“It gave us a lot of connections within the entrepreneurship building, and our mentor, Jim Flannery, who helps us with all of our problems that we have. I feel like that really helped us get us off our feet,” Chancy said.
Flannery is an entrepreneurship lecturer at the Terry College of Business.
Flash matches event coordinators with photographers, requiring both parties to sign contracts to ensure the photographers submit photos on time and are compensated for their work.
The founders said they are forgoing their salaries and are putting that money toward advertising and growing their company. They hope to begin paying themselves when they register as a Limited Liability Company in the future.
Flash got its start when Johnson noticed organizations on campus were hiring older photographers that didn’t quite fit student-centered events. He thought a photography service employing younger members of the Athens community could better serve UGA students.
Johnson took this idea to Chancy, who also had a passion for photography, and was interested in the idea because of her poor experiences with event photographers. Dietrich became involved after agreeing to design Flash’s logo when she heard about the idea from Johnson and Chancy.
According to Johnson, the most challenging part of running the company in the beginning was spreading awareness within the creative community in Athens.
“We knew a few [photographers], but trying to get more throughout the first semester was kind of tough. We are willing to take on an amateur photographer, but at the same time we have to uphold a standard for these organizations that need photographers,” Johnson said.
As the company grew, the base of photographers became steady and the focus shifted to expanding their clientele.
Although Flash began by shooting Greek life events, it has expanded its services to include a LinkedIn package and personal shoots ranging from $120 to $180 an hour.
They started by reaching out to event coordinators in individual sororities and fraternities, and then the Panhellenic Council so their contact information would be given to the right people even with leadership changing every year. Their first shoot was Bid Day in August 2019. Now the company hopes to move outside of Greek life.
“We’re trying to get more into clubs and individuals wanting professional photography instead of just sororities and fraternities for date nights,” Chancy said.
As for expanding outside of UGA’s campus, Johnson said their goal is to offer photography to anybody who wants it.
“That’s the beauty of Athens, it’s a city full of events and life. There’s opportunities. That’s what we’re trying to do, build brand awareness and get our name out there to more markets,” Johnson said.