The Best Way To Let Your Skills Shine Bright

This week, I’m featuring my interview with Lauren Kirkbride, owner of Lauren Kirkbride Photography. She’s a Minneapolis-St. Paul-based wedding, engagement, and lifestyle photographer where, to use her words, she captures couples and families that are full of love, with timeless photography. And, her business lets her skills shine.

Lauren Kirkbride Photography; let your skills shine
One of our family photos with Lauren Kirkbride in 2019

My wife and I can attest to her superpowers behind the camera. We’ve invited Lauren into some of our happiest moments, including our engagement, wedding, and our daughter’s first-birthday.

Yes, like any skilled photographer, Lauren knows how to stage a scene for the perfect shot. But, her real magic is capturing those sneaky in-between-the-scene moments that show us making each other laugh or just being ourselves. It’s something we’re reminded of every time we get our photos back. 

All this month, I’m highlighting some of my favorite small businesses in the Twin Cities – it’s my way of lending a helping hand to our local economy during this surreal and challenging time. To learn more, you can read the first article in this series: How to Help in the Pandemic. You can also read my two previous interviews with Cardigan Donuts and Sprinkles & Confetti. And, stay tuned for more interviews in the coming weeks. 

I believe that the best way to let your skills shine bright is to design a life that holds them firmly at the center. And, Lauren’s story serves a model example. If you’re true to yourself, the rest will follow.

Lauren Kirkbride Photography; let your skills shine
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Here’s what Lauren had to say when I asked her what led her to start Lauren Kirkbride Photography: 

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved taking photos. I was always the person in my family and friend group who took the photos. And as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get a roll of film developed and see the results. I lost my mom when I was eighteen, so the gift of remembering her through photos is what continues to inspire me to capture important life moments and memories for others. Being able to turn my hobby into a career has been such a great gift. I’m so thankful for the people who continue to choose me to capture their lives’ most important moments.”

If you’re passionate about something, you owe it to yourself to make time for it, to perfect your craft, and to find ways to share it with the world. That’s not always easy, but it is worth the effort. 

Lauren: “I love what I do. And, I love that it provides me the opportunity to have amazing experiences with my family and friends. I’m just incredibly lucky that what I do for work is so rewarding.”

Sure, there’s always a little luck involved. But, there’s also intention.

Lauren knows herself well enough to see that if photography wasn’t a part of her life, she would feel a real sense of loss – like her life was missing something.

That’s true for so many other side-hustlers and small business owners I know. And, it follows a fairly predictable pattern: they discover a passion, they slowly start experimenting with that passion, they get better, they keep experimenting, and then they start to wonder… “how could I get more of this in my life?” 


To design a life that’s a true expression of your personality and skills, you need to know yourself pretty well. I asked Lauren how she describes herself as a business leader and how that shows up with her clients. Here’s what she said: 

Lauren Kirkbride Photography; let your skills shine
Lauren Kirkbride

“I see myself as a quiet leader, who brings peace to each session and wedding. My goal is to capture moments that are special and meaningful for my clients and their life stage.”

As a customer, I can tell you that rings true. One of the things I’m always so impressed by when we work with Lauren is how much of a calming presence she is. Our wedding, for example, was a wonderful and beautiful day. But, like any big investment of time and energy, it had the potential to be stressful and overwhelming. True to form, Lauren helped set the tone with her brand of quiet leadership. 

As a solopreneur, when it’s just you – when the value you provide is based on you sharing your skills or expertise through interactions with your client or customer – you are the brand. Who you are, how you naturally show up, and your working style – all of that has an impact on your customer or client. It’s all woven together into what they experience. It should therefore, be something intentional. 

Here’s Lauren again: 

“I think learning about yourself, and your strengths, helps you succeed in ways that are unique to you. That’s what helps draw people to you and to your business. Be who you are, and you’ll attract people who see you for that, and want to be part of what you offer. Believe in yourself and your talent.”


Lauren Kirkbride Photography is open and available for socially-distanced photo sessions. For more information and to get in touch with Lauren, visit her website at

And, follow her on Instagram for more inspiration @laurenkirkbride.

Thank you to Lauren for all of the incredible photos and memories you’ve helped us develop over the years – and for sitting down to answer my questions.


Stay tuned for more, right here on the 321 Liftoff blog. 

Next week, I’ll share my interview with another small business in the Twin Cities – Jennifer Chenoweth, owner of The LinkedIn Gal, which helps individuals and businesses build their brand through LinkedIn.

If you’d like to get notified when new articles and interviews come out, you can subscribe to my blog using the form below. When you subscribe, you’ll also get a free ebook: 5 steps to clarifying your business idea. 


Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.

It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.

It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.

And, that’s why it’s worth it.


What might be possible if you put your skills and talents at the center of your life? What would it look like to let your skills shine? Here are a few things to think about this week: 

  • What’s something you’ve discovered a passion for?
  • How do you feel when you’re engaged in the work of doing that thing? 
  • How aligned is your current life with your skills, passions, and personality? 
    • If it’s very aligned, great. How could you up the ante? 
    • If it’s not consistently aligned, that’s ok. Where is there some alignment in your life? How could you get more of that?

Are you interested in designing a life that holds your skills at the center? Have you considered starting a side-hustle to help you experiment? Let’s talk.

Starting and growing a business is not a straight line. It can feel messy. It zigs and zags. It starts and stops. It can feel frustrating ven for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok. It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself. And, that’s why it’s worth it.

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