5 and a half years ago, I bought a camera...nothing super fancy or expensive, but it was much better than the point and shoot I was used to taking my family photos with. I was an MWAC (aka Mom With A Camera - a slang and sometimes derogatory term in the photography world. An interesting article about this here if you're curious: MWAC is a Four-Letter Word). I took pictures of my kid, I took pictures of my friend's kids, I took pictures of flowers and dogs and toys, local parades and birthday parties, the artistically placed fast food cup on my table...I fancied myself a photographer, and as far as those who paid me $50 to take their family pics were concerned, that's what I was. I threw up a decent website with my html knowledge that was much more vast than my photography knowledge. I had some VistaPrint business cards made, along with some flyers and coupons. The friend whose kid I took pictures of, then told their friend about me, so I took their family photos. Then they told a friend about me, and so I took their photos too. Then each of those friends told another person, and the next thing I know, I was up to my eyeballs in editing. That whole word of mouth thing is some pretty powerful stuff.
After working really hard trying to hold down a full time job, and then a part time photography "career" that was quickly turning into a full time thing, not to mention being a full time mom, I saved up some money and bought a better camera. I had outgrown the old one. It no longer did what I wanted it to do. My "eye" was developing and I could see where my images were lacking and I needed a camera with a wider range of features and a higher quality output. I purchased a Canon 50D and wow, was I blown away. I finally learned how to shoot in manual mode (can we say night and day???). I started researching features and tips to take better photos, I built up a blog reader list filled with amazing photographers that I could only hope to be as good as some day. I experimented with various lighting techniques, poses, props, locations, and editing techniques. With each shoot I did, I learned a new skill, I learned what not to do, and I learned what works best for various personality types. I always strived to do better on my next shoot than on my last, I never wanted to be stagnant just churning out another set of photos that looked just like the last. After still trying to balance my photography with my full time "real world" job, I simultaneously decided to buy a new camera (a Canon 5D this time with a 24-70 L Series lens, AMAZING) and quit my job, while also becoming a single mother all within the span of a month...not really how I'd recommend anyone else go about much of anything in life...but I'm pretty well known for finding myself in some out of the norm situations...so this was pretty basic for me. The next few years were not easy, but I took full advantage of my freedom in all aspects, and life was pretty darn great from this point forward. Talk about starting over. I was like a bird that was let out of their cage and told they could fly wherever they wanted to. I struggled, but somehow through prayer and faith, everything always worked out.
Each year I would re-evaluate my book of work, and adjust my pricing to reflect what I believed my work was worth in my local market. While I worried that raising my prices would mean losing clients that were used to paying my lower rates, I found that loyalty, personality, and comfort levels go very far in the photography world. Especially when you're working with people's children, they want someone they know and trust to interact with their kids and get those smiles out. A large percentage of my very early clientele are still with me today. I've been called the "Family Photographer" more times than I can count. Each time I hear it, it makes me smile with pride. When I look back on my book of work, I realize that I have been present for some of the most important moments in many of my client's lives - weddings, pregnancies, newborn babies, birthday parties, baptisms, proms, anniversaries, and the list goes on. They have trusted me with some of their most intimate moments, and that is of itself a complete honor.
And now we fast forward to today...April of 2014. A 5+ year journey through some life changing moments in my own personal life, some amazing adventures and travel, and the introduction of very important people in my life. I have grown so much over these years as a photographer, as a business owner, as a mother, and as a human being. I have been blessed in so many ways, even many of the negative things that have occurred can be looked at as blessings, because they still got me to where I am today...and that's a pretty good place to be. I would be offended today if someone called me an "MWAC" even though in the most literal of terms, that is exactly what I am. But I believe that I have put in my years, put in my sweat and hard work, and even blood because I know I've been hurt/cut/scratched on shoots before...I think I have earned the right to call myself a photographer, and considering this is my profession, I'm going to go ahead and label myself a Professional Photographer while I'm at it. I still continue to always strive to do better, to find new ideas and expand my creativeness where I can. I take on opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and try a different style of photography whenever possible. I believe that one is never done growing. There is always more you can learn, there are always ways that you can better yourself...once you feel like you have learned as much as you can and that you can no longer become any better at whatever it is you do, then I'd say you're either wrong, or you need to open your mind a little wider to see what you're missing.
Now that you've had a summarized version of my history with Avery James Photography, I want to welcome you to my brand spankin' new, and absolutely AMAZING website....I finally took a back seat with designing my site (not an easy thing to do for this control freak), and let my extremely talented cousin, Ryan Uno with Solutions One, create me a new site from the ground up. It's been an interesting process...working with family always is, but he's been extremely patient with all of my personalization requests, change requests, questions, add ons, giving me directions on how to edit my site, and then repeating it all when I forget what he told me in the first place. I'll be the first to say that I'm not really the easiest person to work with...definitely not the most difficult, but we'll just say that I know what I want and when I want something, expect to hear from me until I get it. With that said, I am in love with my new website! Ryan was so receptive to everything I wanted in this site, how I planned on using it, features that needed to be created and then tweaked to fit my needs and preferences, and visual changes that were just personal quirks of mine. I was pretty proud of the websites I have created myself in the past, but this one surpasses anything I could have done with my limited web design and html/coding knowledge. I've said this a hundred times before, but one more time won't hurt - my cousin, Ryan Uno with Solutions One, is blessed with some great talents. Website building and design, graphic design, marketing material creation, logo designs...this is where you need to go if you are looking to brand yourself either from the ground up or for a complete overhaul of your existing designs. I've seen him create some breathtaking logos for friends of mine, and I've sat next to him watching his creativeness at work designing flyers and other marketing materials...I've always thought myself to be pretty handy on the computer, but I could never do what he does. That's true God-given talent there.
So while this may look like a shameless plug for a family member, please be assured that we treated each other as a vendor and client would when it came to my website...minus the occasional name calling. And if I wasn't happy with the final result, this "plug" would look something like, "Hey! My cousin did my website. Thank you so much for such a great job. Go check out his page. Thanks!" and that would be about it...I'm not a very good liar....and I don't like to write a bunch of mumbo jumbo about just anyone. So when I get super wordy about a product or service or company, that's your hint that I really like them/it and you should already be at their website and telling all your friends about them. ;-)
Visit Solutions One's website: http://solutions-one.net/
"Like" Solutions One on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SolutionsOne
Visit Avery James Photography's new website: http://www.averyjamesphotography.com
Avery James Photography on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AveryJamesPhotography
And please let me know what you think of the site!! I would love your feedback. :) :)