Finding your niche

 

When I set out to become a photographer I thought about the different types of photography I would like to dive into. Nature, children, weddings, forensic and of course the fashion celebrity photographer. 

I immediately enrolled in college and began taking all the classes I thought would help me find my niche. I first thought very realistic about what photography could be used for and when I thought about helping people I thought Forensic Photography. I very quickly realized I couldnt decided what jobs I would take because I would be called out of bed any given night to photograph a very gruesome crime scene and didn’t want that on my mind. I’m far too sensitive for such a job. One photo of a horrible murder and I would be in counseling for life. 

I then thought about shooting pictures of families.  

 

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This was better however it was still a lot of people to pose. I liked being able to do this sometimes for cool shoots with clients but every time I did a shoot was just too much. Plus I like variety. So I began to see I could Shoot different things when I wanted and always have variety and never become bored with my job. 

 

So head shots...

 

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And weddings because who doesn’t love a good love story.  This is also my favorite thing to shoot and has become the thing I soecialize in. I shoot 20-25 weddings per year which is great at the right price point. 

 

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Engagement sessions... these go hand and hand with weddings of course because this is where the story starts. 

 

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Newborn babies because I cant resist baby toes... 

 

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And first comes love then comes marriage then comes the baby in the baby carriage... right? (That’s corny I know)  

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and now added to my list is celebrity photos! I could just scream because the girl who gave us “Torn” and now “Back 2 life” would be sitting on my website one day. She actually looked into my camera and knowingly allowed me to photograph her. Letoya Luckett is now added to my list of amazing people I get to take photos of. No matter how much I wanted to tell her I was a huge fan I was calm and cool and I shook her hand and very professionally took her photo. It was an unreal experience and I am so thankful Black Bride Magazine gave me the opportunity to do it. 

 

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During my career I have worked on four tv shows. Little Women Atlanta, Married at First Sight, Cake Hunters, and Real Housewives of Atlanta. I was able to capture some amazing things and grow my company in ways I never thought I would. I had fun, learned a lot and made some great connections. This helped me to find what I love most in life and what I enjoy taking photos of. 

So because of my long resume I consider myself a Wedding Photographer that takes headshots, branding photos, works on TV shows, shoots celebrities occasionally and I can take some great photos of babies as well. I’m a regular girl with a camera and a really big dream. 

 

Want to know more about Celebrity Photography/ TV show photography? Check out the Love Story Workshop- Coming Soon.

 

 

 

 

IKEA Engagement Session

 

I love when my clients have new ideas of where they would like to shoot. This couple that I had the chance to work with decided they wanted to use their favorite place in the world to shop for their engagement session inspiration. 

IKEA is a playground for adults. I don't think that I ever got excited about going to the store until IKEA came into my life and when I moved to Atlanta GA and found out there was one in my city I knew I would be spending most of my time there and my entire home would look like the showroom minus the tags. 

Johnnie and Joely love this store just as much as I do and decided this was the place to document their engagement. So I was very happy to make sure I went to the store with them and took some amazing photos. 

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So when you see somewhere nice to sit that makes the image have a little color you stop and take a few shots. 

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Pretend to wash a few dishes. 

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This area was one of my favorites because on a rainy day in February I was able to give these clients a little green. I think this adds some nice color and still give the photo that IKEA feel. 

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Perfect spot for a little kiss. 

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The final stage of shopping at IKEA is taking your sheet with all the numbers written on it and picking up your boxes and getting ready to go home. Who knew that boxes could look so good. This wide shot of the couple in the aisle is just great. It really captures IKEA at its best. 

 

Thanks for checking out the images. 

 

3 tips for capturing wedding rings

 

As a wedding photographer, my job is to capture memories of the day. One of the biggest symbols of marriage is the wedding band. The ring means  "I do" and "I vow to spend the rest of my life with you". It is also a huge part of the engagement and it deserves some attention on the wedding day too. 

Some rings are also family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation and mean even more to the family. In my opinion, the rings should be given a level of respect and captured in such a way that the beauty of the rings can carry on for a lifetime. 

When I capture the rings I stick to these 3 simple rules and I try to do this at each and every wedding. 

1. Move the ring around and capture it in more than one place. This gives your bride and groom a variety of images and adds visual interest to the album when all the photos are done. Try to incorporate the invitations or something that says where the wedding was held. Including the venue is a nice shot to capture because for years it will have a story to go along with those rings. 

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2. Show the details of the band. When the groom picked out the ring he decided to give to his wife to be he didn't just look at the ring straight on and say that's the one based on the diamond at the top. He looked at the band, the kind of metal, and the type of setting. Every piece of the ring has a story to tell and sometimes there is even something engraved in the rings. Make sure you show those things because they mean so much to a couple you are capturing that day. 

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3. Location, Location, Location!!!

Make sure the shots of the rings go with the flow of the wedding. If you are shooting an outdoor wedding in the middle of spring you aren't going to take pictures of the rings in a dark moody setting. You need to shoot those rings with flowers and in light and airy spaces to mimic the mood of the day. Also if the wedding takes place in a moody venue don't shoot the rings on a white tablecloth or bright areas light them with LED lights and add some drama to those rings. Making everything flow as if it is apart of the same story book is a great thing. 

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So find a good macro lens and give your bride and groom a shot to remember! Always think of what you would want on your wedding day and shoot each wedding like it is the most important one you have ever shot no matter how many weddings you shoot each year. 

 

 

How I Made My Six Figure Dream A Reality

 

When I made the decision to start my photography career, I was absolutely terrified to step out and start my own business. The feeling that no one would take me seriously because of how young I was, the fear that since I hadn’t gone to school for business I wouldn’t know how to successfully run my company, and the constant concern of my work not being good enough. I never thought that my dream of being a business owner would come true but I had to give it a try. I knew that working for other people wasn’t something I wanted to continue so I started reading any book I could get my hands on, watch tons of YouTube tutorials, and began to learn how to grow my company little by little. I took the slow and steady route because I knew that many companies fail when they try to grow too quickly. So I wanted to make sure I took my time in making big decisions and I had to make sure I was able to juggle being a mom and entrepreneur. I told myself that most small businesses fail within the first 18months but if  I could just make it to 5 years of steady growth I would be okay.

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I stepped out of my comfort zone and I started my business with an entry-level camera and kit lens. My first year I made $0. Yup, you read that right $0, but that was okay with me because I was happy. I continued to focus on reading about being a business owner and a successful wedding photographer knowing the more I knew the more I had a chance at success. I didn’t worry about my wages because I was still learning and building a portfolio. I took my time, I dreamed big and to me, that was the best part because my first goal I set for myself was to not be in debt. With all the equipment and subscriptions I knew I would need and the money I would have to spend on education I simply wanted to be debt free.  

My second year I made $2,000. Wow, $2000 from taking pretty pictures of people? It was amazing to me that I could take what I read in a book, the skills I learned in school, apply it to real life and actually make money doing it. At the time I was charging $50 for a portrait session and my clients were ecstatic! Life was good. I reinvested that money in a better website template and more equipment. Shortly after reaching that goal my thirst grew and I had a new goal of $30,000 which I thought would be just enough to supplement some income and make life easier for my family. I  immediately went and upgraded my camera and got the Nikon D810 a 85mm lens and 24-70mm lens. This line up has been my go to set up since. 

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My third year in business I taught myself a little more about building a website to showcase my work and I started my first social media page for my company. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and so much more, soon became my focus on becoming a better businesswoman. I decided that creating a logo was needed to brand my company. I was enrolled in photography school and watching tons of inspiring photographers on YouTube in order to grow my photography skill and learn techniques I could modify to make my own (My favorite wedding photographer has started a group for photographers called The Inspired Club, her name is Jana Williams).  At the end of year three, I was pulling in $17,000 in income. I didn’t reach my $30,000 goal but at this point I was hungry and now I wanted to work for myself and only myself. I didn't want to grow anyone else’s brand. I wanted to grow my own brand and build my own empire regardless how small. 

By year four I was working for myself full time and focusing on weddings. I began advertising with The Knot and was booking brides and grooms left and right. I was asked to photograph a wedding for the hit TV show Married at First Sight and that show opened up all kinds of doors to the reality TV Show world and the wedding world. I began networking with more photographers, second shooting, and attending some pretty amazing events that allowed me to meet some great people. My income went from barely getting by so I can manage a family on this. My brand was making $55,000 and it had allowed me to go full time. I was no longer working for anyone else and I was proud that I could say my hard work was paying off. That year I told myself that if I could Just make $75,000 I would be okay. 

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Year five is now coming to an end and this year has been full of learning experiences. I’m still networking and growing my brand. I’m now using the video world to grow my company. I am growing my social media pages and making some great friends along the way. I have shot weddings and special events for Food Networks: Cake Hunter, Bravos: The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Lifetime Networks:  Little Women Atlanta. Talk about Growth! I have continued to have my work published in magazines like Black Bride, Munaluchi Bridal, Brides magazine, and Modern Luxury Bride. This year my brand is making Six Figures. LaJoy Photography formerly L. Hunter Photography has been through a divorce, a rebrand and name change and still managed to come out on top. I'm writing this because when I began my journey I needed to hear from other photographers like myself that were able to make it to levels they never thought they would reach. I am truly grateful to everyone that has come my way when I began my career. I am also very grateful for my amazing clients that have trusted me with their memories. I have come such a long way and I can now say that everything I taught myself over the years has paid off. Don’t get me wrong... my journey was hard and full of nights where I just wanted to give up. However I’m happy I believed in myself enough to want to push forward and achieve my goals so that I could be the mom I needed to be to make my children proud and have my mother smile when she looks down at me from heaven. 

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How did I make my dream a six-figure reality? The patience to understand I needed to wait for the right opportunities to come my way. I not only shoot weddings but I shoot portrait sessions for other entrepreneaurs that are just getting started. I took on the natural hair community and decided to take photos of models and bloggers in need of some great shots for their websites. I    also shoot sports photography for a larger photography company that works with tons of high schools in my area. When I learned that my camera could make money for me and my family nothing would stand in my way. I would then use my camera to make sure that I would always be able to provide for my children and provide them with the life that they deserve.

 

 

Black Bride Magazine!

 

Hello everyone!!!  

I am am so excited to share today’s blog post for my article that I wrote for the planning issue of what I think is the most amazing issue of Black Bride Magazine!!! I cant Wait to share more work with you guys in 2018!  

Check out the link below to go straight to magazine so you can see all the amazing work inside! 

Black Bride Magazine-The Planning Issue

How to get the best wedding photos! 

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Atlanta City Life Engagement Session

 

I recently shot an engagement session for this amazing couple and I had such a great time. During this engagement session I was able to take this couple to the next level and allow them time to enjoy their session and create amazing memories while shooting. 

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Nicole and Kamal are the type of bride and groom my company that I look for and have me looking forward to the wedding day. I can honestly say I enjoyed this session so much that I couldn't wait to get these two on my website and featured on Black Bride. Check this link to view the story of Nicole and Kamal.

http://www.blackbride.com/inspiration/atlanta-city-life-engagement-session/

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Here is a little teaser as to why this man got this woman woman to say yes!!!

Kamal: I honestly knew I wanted to marry Nicole from the first day I met her, therefore, I began to ask her many questions about her passions, beloved hobbies and anything that inspired her.

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Ben & Kam Engagement Session

 

I have been able to do some great engagement sessions this year and this one is no exception. I travelled to the beautiful city of Ashville NC to shoot the engagement session of Ben & Kam at Ashville School. Please take a look at some of the amazing shots from our big day. I had so much fun workin with this couple and the love they have for one another is amazing. 

 

Congrat to you both! Wedding day will be stunning!  

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Atlanta Photographers

 

The city of Atlanta seemed so huge when I moved down here almost six years ago. Now if just seems like a small neighborhood of close friends. I know my way around and everyone that I know happens to know someone else I know. 

This past weekend I shot two sessions at the same time on my LIVE Instagram feed. The two photographers I was working with was a young woman named Ida John.  Check out her page and look for her portrait work to come in the future. Also David Alexander which is a new wedding and portrait photographer in the city as well that I have worked with for a little over a year now. 

Both Ida and David did such an amazing job during this session I am getting some amazing reviews on these photos. When you see just how amazing they both look you will know why. Atlanta Beltline was a great place to capture the playful nature of the two of them. Enjoy the photos and I know you will be seeing more work from the three of us soon.