By Toni Williams
A snapshot of an ageing bull led 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 the family sheep and beef farm at Glenroy, near Windwhistle up the Rakaia Gorge, while juggling married life with two young children, aged five and three.
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.
They have since moved ten 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’s business sees her photographs, featuring large shots of farm animals, floral prints and coastal and rural landscapes, sent around the world in large-as-life print form; framed, unframed or on canvas.
The photographs are taken either on the home farm or around the district and beyond.
“Being surrounded by these beautiful creatures everyday 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 also takes florals, inspired from her large garden at Windwhistle, as well as 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 with two prints a day being shipped there.
“It isn’t easy, I won’t lie. I take everyday as I go. I swear everyday 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. I am passionate about my business and I love taking photographs.”
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 students.
“I’m a school teacher 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 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 16,000 followers very quickly.
“It is now 27K” she said.
” I created a website to sell my prints and haven’t looked back.”
The success of By the Horns has seen Mrs King named the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards 2019 emerging business winner. It’s a competition she was prompted to enter 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. I have learnt how to run a business in a very short time. 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 really didn’t think it could be true. I still can’t really believe it. I guess it will feel very re