Leading Ladies: UT alumna founds photography studio

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UT graduate Korey Howell founded Korey Howell Photography, a studio specializing in business portraits.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy Olympia Sobane | Daily Texan Staff

Every morning, Korey Howell strolls down her block, past her neighborhood’s gate and arrives for work at the doors of her brightly lit studio, Korey Howell Photography.

When Howell graduated from UT in 1990 with an organizational communications degree, she aspired to be a hair and makeup artist. Instead, she found a passion for photography that led her to open her photography studio in North Austin. This year, she is nominated for the Texas Women in Business’ Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award. 

“I have fun because I picked something I really enjoy,” Howell said. “Every client quickly becomes my new best friend, and the photos are just a memento.”

In 1987, Howell left her home in Corpus Christi to begin studying at UT. With her sights set on beauty school, Howell worked to graduate in 3 years. 

“There weren’t many things I was involved with,” Howell said. “All I did was study, go to class, exercised occasionally and that was probably the extent of it.”

Howell spent her last semester working as a makeup artist for Headshots, the studio where she picked up her photography skills. After four months with Headshots, Howell was asked to stay with the company to open new studio locations.

“Under them, I ended up traveling across the country, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico,” Howell said. “I did that up until 1999 when I got burned out.”

But it was not until 2006 that Howell found the need to return to photography. That year, Howell’s parents died, her husband and sister were both diagnosed with cancer, and her brother was involved in a drunken driving accident.  

“I spent a bunch of time taking care of everybody else,” Howell said. “I realized that I hadn’t been taking care of myself. So I opened up a teeny, tiny studio, no more than 100 square feet.”

Over the next eight years, Howell moved to her current location, added three members to her team and created a brand that specializes in business headshots and portraits for corporations. 

“It was pretty easy,” Howell said. “I know that to the outside world and to some of my other friends they think, ‘Oh, you take such risks,’ but I really don’t. I only do
sure things.”

Freelance photography, events and family portraits do not appeal to Howell. She enjoys the structured nature of photographing businessmen and businesswomen in
controlled settings.

“She’s more business-minded,” studio manager Victoria VanOsselaer said. “Her brain just goes, goes and goes.”

Howell has made a name for herself, partially through her studio’s involvement with different charities and organizations, including St. David’s Medical Centers, the American Heart Association and Austin Pets Alive. 

“We’ve found that the more we give to the community, the more the community gives back to us,” Howell said. 

Howell remembers her friends leaving Austin once they graduated. She said she made her own jobs where she wanted to be. 

“[Howell] likes to do things her own way,” said Olympia Sobande, the on-location team photographer and retoucher. “She definitely couldn’t do it any differently, that’s
for sure.”

Howell said her life has turned out better than she ever expected. 

“You can enjoy your work,” Howell said. “But try not to put all your expectations into one. Don’t just assume that, if you do what you love, it’ll all work out. You have to work hard, too. The harder I work, the luckier I get.”