Can you tell me about where you're based and the businesses you run?
I'm based in Paradise Valley on the outskirts of Rotorua, where my family and I have 17 acres along the Ngongotaha Stream. Our business is Gerhard Egger Photography and we also publish our own books. The latest is called A Cut Above - Cooking with AngusPure, which is a beef cookbook that's available nationwide.
Why have you chosen to base yourself where you do?
Over the years my wife and I travelled and lived overseas and in different areas around New Zealand, including Auckland, but we kept coming back to Rotorua for the quality of lifestyle.
Auckland is around three hours away, the beach is 45 minutes away, and we have forests and lakes on our doorstep and no traffic jams! It's magic for our daughter and her friends to be able to play in the stream - boogie board down it, camp beside it, build huts and generally have a good time. I also really enjoy fishing for trout, so living next to the Ngongotaha is pretty special.
We also have access to fantastic fresh produce - a lot of which we grow ourselves - which I use for my food photography. I've found the costs associated in running my business are lower in our rural setting.
What are some of the other ways your rural setting influences your work as a photographer?
I think being further away from your main markets presents challenges as well as opportunities. It's harder to network and showcase your work person to person, and that can make it more difficult to establish and maintain a profile within the industry.
But I've found not having a team of art directors, stylists and the like to work with brings out the number-eight wire mentality in me. You just have to adapt and do things for yourself. This has its own challenges, but it's also really rewarding when it all comes together and you see that in a finished image or book.
I've also found there's a good demand for rural lifestyle, agribusiness, and food images, and our base in the country gives me a distinct advantage in creating these.
Good internet connectivity must be really important in a business like yours. What's been your experience of that?
I think staying connected is one of the biggest challenges for a lot of rural businesses. Where we live cellphone reception is really poor and this can certainly have an impact. The biggest problem, though, is not having a decent internet connection.
My images are sold worldwide through both national and international photo libraries, and the company we use for the pre-press of our books is based in Auckland and the printing is done in China. All this should be able to be done online, but because of our slow internet service I sometimes still have to courier work.
Over the last couple of years photo libraries have moved into providing video clips, but having a slow internet speed prevents me from creating video content for the stock libraries because they only accept submissions online. My business model wouldn't work without broadband, so the current slow speed impacts my ability to maintain my business and move forward with it.
What's some key advice you'd have for someone wanting to make the most out of running a business in a rural location?
If you move to a new area, go and talk to your neighbours and get involved in the community. They're a valuable source of local knowledge and your first response in an emergency. Also, maintain your 'big city' contacts, not only for your business purposes, but to also help you out with a crash pad when you need it.
Coming up in Your Business: What does it mean to start a business later in life? I'm keen to learn about what's motivated some laterpreneurs to set up their ventures, and the challenges and opportunities they've encountered along the way. If you've got a story to tell about being a laterpreneur, drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org