1. What is your business?
I am the owner and photographer for The Suitcase Studio, offering a different take on the typical portrait session. I specialize in using interactive techniques to capture the unique personalities of the people involved. Think of my sessions as the experience, with the resulting photographs being the ultimate souvenir.
Over the years, I have found that the images people generally love of themselves are the ones where they are being 100% genuine. I create a comfortable space for this to happen, offering a more in-depth, emotional portrait experience where the focus is on capturing the real moments and connections between the people involved. Play is definitely a BIG part of my sessions, and very little posing is involved.
2. Why did you launch this business?
One of my main mantras in life is “I choose joy,” and my current job, though stable, certainly wasn’t joyful. Nearing thirty years old and bored out of my mind with my current position, I decided to take a leap of faith and follow my passion. Deciding to launch my own photography business was sort of a “lightbulb over the head” moment. I have always felt like I’ve seen things a bit differently than others, and have always kept my camera close at hand to capture those moments as they happen. My motto: It’s real life; it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
3. What gives you your greatest pleasure in your business?
I love being able to witness a seemingly shy or hesitant person come to life during their portrait session, and revel in the joy in getting to see the REAL them. One of my favorite moments so far has been during a recent session; the husband had told me at the beginning that he was only there for his wife but by the end of the session he was the one who was tearfully thanking me for giving them this gift of time together. I know I’ve done my job well when I am in the middle of the editing process, and seeing one of the images brings happy tears to my eyes.
4. Where have you run into challenges in your business?
Here in sunny southern California, there are a LOT of photographers. It’s been (and still is) a struggle at times to differentiate myself from the others, create my niche and stick to it. When I first started, I was far too willing to take on any job that was remotely related to what I wanted to do. It took me a long time to learn the strength in saying “no” at times, so I am able to stay true to myself and my brand.
5. What is a key resource that has helped you and might also help other business owners?
SMARTY has been an invaluable resource to me, not only for the incredible networking possibilities, but also in helping me work on my confidence in speaking to strangers and selling them on my ideas. Another big help for me has been Facebook, as most of my clients turn into friends, and my biggest source of new clients has been from word of mouth and social interaction.