20 Under 40: Kyle Coburn

Kyle Coburn | 35

The Photo Bus DFW, Coburn Photography
Education: University of Missouri

Kyle Coburn learned a lot about the photo industry from a photographer most Park Cities residents remember and love, the late Phil Stephens. “Learning the journalism industry from Phil and other journalism professionals on the sidelines of Scots sporting events, and the encouragement from my Bagpipe newspaper advisor, Sandy Hall-Chiles, led me to pursue journalism and photography in college. While starting his career as a sports photographer, Kyle’s talents took him around the world as a wedding photographer. He also launched The Photo Bus DFW, a mobile photo booth in a vintage VW Bus, with his college roommate. Their first event was at the HPISD Centennial Celebration in October 2014. The duo has since licensed the concept across the country to 11 cities. You might have seen it at local events like the Snider Plaza Christmas Tree Lighting, the Fourth of July Parade, and HP National Night Out. While Coburn loves to travel and find beauty in random corners of the world, he also has a heart for giving back to the community. Each year he volunteers for the Take Steps Walk of Dallas and Fort Worth, benefitting the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, a disease that affects his girlfriend.

Q: What do you love about the Park Cities community?
A: I love that it is a timeless community that is consistent in its values and more progressive than people give it credit for. Whether you are inspired or intimidated by success, you may find your motivation in this North Dallas community.

Q: Which is your favorite local store?
A: JDs Chippery. Don’t order from the counter. Just ask what is fresh out of the oven and get a dozen of those. You won’t regret it.

Did You Know?
While I don’t have any pets of my own, I am the ‘uncle’ to my neighbor’s dog, Winnie.

Q: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

A: As a photographer in High School at Highland Park, I sold sports photography prints to parents and students, even shot my first wedding at Flippen Park. I learned a ton about the industry, much of it shared from Phil Stephens, a photographer most Park Cities residents remember, and love. He documented decades of HP sports athletes, their accomplishments, triumphs and emotional victories. Learning the journalism industry from Phil and other journalism professionals on the sidelines of Scots sporting events, and the encouragement from my Bagpipe Newspaper advisor Sandy Hall-Chiles led me to pursue Journalism and Photography in College.

Q: Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

A: Hopefully retired, kidding, I would be way too bored. I hope to be still serving the event industry in some way, hopefully in a lower stress way, and finding the best way for me to give back.

Q: What was your “lightbulb moment” that lead you to your career?

A: For someone that never felt comfortable with the idea of self employment, or freelance work, I was fortunate to build an incredible network early on that lead into an early wedding photography career focused on destination wedding photography, this lit a fire under me to take this market and maximize its potential. I learned a ton about the event industry at that time and helped me find a passion outside of work, travel, and exploration. The Photo Bus was an extension of my event photography experience, I never expected it would take over though. Today, The Photo Bus and our other photo booths represent a majority of my business.

Q: Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

A: Delegation was the hardest skill to master, to trust others to perform at a high level, and do the right thing when you can’t be everywhere and do everything yourself. As a perfectionist, it is still hard to let go of certain responsibilities, which is why you are most likely to find me working, any time of the day or night, and especially on weekends.

Q: Where is the best place in the Park Cities or Preston Hollow for a power lunch – what do you order?

A: Mi Cocina! Rico Salad “Ricardo Style” hold the dressing … well, not always, you can also go with the Deluxe 57, it might be off the menu but you can still order it. And of course Queso Blanco, and a side of Molcajete salsa, oh and a Dilemma or two.

Q: If there was ONE thing that you could change or improve in the community, what would it be?

A: Education obviously being paramount to many Park Cities residents, I believe more support should be given to career-focused classes and extracurriculars at Highland Park High School. These are the classes that lead to lifetime passions and potential careers. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without the support of an incredible student newspaper advisor Sandy Hall-Chiles (The Bagpipe) as well as boosters such as Mary Clare Finney who provided our program with the professional tools to learn the industry.

Q: If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

A: “Spotlight,” journalism is important, and we cannot forget that in 2019.

Q: If someone made a movie of your life, what would the title be and who would play you?

A: Seth Rogen. ????

Q: If we looked at your social media accounts, what would we learn about you?

A: I love to travel, and I love finding beauty in random corners of the world. Also, that I don’t post much on my personal, more on my business accounts.

Q: If you could, what advice would you have for your teenage self and why?

A: Don’t underestimate yourself, stop worrying. I repeat this to myself every year in fact.

Q: What, to date, has been your most impressive or rewarding accomplishment in both your professional and personal life?

A: I think my most rewarding accomplishment has simply been reaching beyond my own expectations for myself. In an environment such as the Park Cities, being surrounded by success in a competitive atmosphere can be an intimidating environment to grow up in. Entering the Park Cities as a high school freshman was eye-opening and humbling. Being able to return to the community with my business and be a part of community events such as the Snider Plaza & Highland Park Christmas Tree lighting, 4th of July parade, National Night out, as well as many private parties with The Photo Bus has been an honor.

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