Small Business Spotlight: Michelle Kirnan Photography

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Michelle Kirnan is the founder, owner and namesake of Michelle Kirnan Photography. Since 2011, Michelle has worked as a portrait photographer serving Southside Hampton Roads and Northeastern North Carolina. Her company offers a custom portrait experience, from pre-session design consultation through the selection and ordering appointment and, finally, installation of clients’ wall art. They work in studio as well as on location throughout Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks.

Have you always lived in Currituck or did you relocate here?

I moved here from Virginia Beach in 2005 with my husband, Steve.

What was it about Currituck County that most appealed to you?

We moved from Virginia Beach in order to have a little more land. We chose Moyock due to the proximity to Hampton Roads, where Steve still works. We have our dream home on three acres in a neighborhood just three miles from the state line. It’s still convenient to Hampton Roads yet we enjoy the country feeling of open space in a rural area.


When, how and why did you decide to start your own business? Do you remember the day or moment that you made the decision?

Once our son joined our family and we became more comfortable as a family of three, I had a feeling of “what’s next?” Cody was placed with us in 2006 at the age of four, and we finalized his adoption in 2010. He has been through so much, including cancer and separation from his birth family, and he has inspired me in so many ways! I wanted to be a better person for him while showing him we can accomplish anything we set our mind to. 

I’ve always had a love for photography, and as a child I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. My first job was at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront at an old time photos studio. I was hired as a costume girl – I would come into work, put on a costume, and stand on Atlantic Avenue waving at people in hopes they would come in for some photos. As an introvert this wasn’t the best job for me, and it didn’t take long before I was moved inside as a photographer.

Cody and Steve got me my first DSLR camera for our 20th wedding anniversary in 2010. My family quickly grew tired of me always taking their picture, and I had friends wanting me to do photos of their families as well. I began developing a portfolio and officially began my business in May 2011. 

What's the best part about owning and operating a business in Currituck County?

The people! Currituckians (is that a word?) are gracious, kind, and supportive. I love getting to know each and every one of our clients and learning, and then sharing for others to see, what makes them unique and beautiful.

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What's the hardest part about owning and operating a business in Currituck County?

Currituck is quite diverse and spread out. It can be difficult to get your message to everyone in the county. We have few businesses offering boutique services, so there are no partnership opportunities for a business such as mine.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a business in Currituck County?

Know there are resources! Membership with the Currituck Chamber of Commerce has been a vital part of my growth. I've learned so much and met many in the community due to my involvement with the chamber. There are other business owners willing to help you grow your business and who will be there for you in your time of need as well as to cheer you on during the good times. Currituck Economic Development has resources for businesses as well. The growth of your business in Currituck is important to the community as a whole – you are not alone!

What's one thing you wish you could change about your business?

I would like to one day have a commercial studio location large enough for families and corporate groups.


What do you most want people (in Currituck County and beyond) to know about you and your business?

We offer no obligation design consultations. We love sharing with potential clients all the possibilities of professional portraiture! We specialize in heirloom albums and wall art, such as framed prints, gallery wrapped canvases and metal prints, to be treasured for generations. We look forward to showing you how much fun your portrait experience can be as we travel this road together, becoming friends along the way.

This Currituck Small Business Spotlight first appeared in COAST OBX
Michelle Kirnan Photography is located at 112A Commercial Drive in Moyock, NC.
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