Here’s to livin’ the dream: Portraits Couture

26 Jul

As a woman hoping very much to see her jewelry shop take off one day, I absolutely understand the appeal of working for yourself.

More, I can hugely appreciate and admire when someone decides to take her career into her own hands.

Meet Melissa. We met in college and worked together after. She’s a photographer who said “Screw the daily grind, I’m doing this for ME!” She and another photographer are in the early stages of opening their own photo studio, Portraits Couture. And you know what early stages means: fundraising. That means lots of hours, lots of stress … and lots of love. Because to put yourself through that special kind of hell, you know you truly love what you’re doing.

I admire this venture so much that I just had to introduce you to Melissa! Ain’t she pretty?

Tell me about your vision for Portraits Couture. Our goal is to be a high-end portrait studio with high quality products, props and backgrounds. We want to give 100 percent of our time to the clients, who are in turn spending a good deal of money on something they feel is priceless.

We needed enough money for those products, props and backgrounds — with enough to provide a salary where both my business partner, Victoria Martin, and I could solely focus on this studio and the clients and not worry about a second job.

We met with banks in hopes of securing a loan, but the meetings were not quite what we hoped for. The bankers were helpful with advice but couldn’t risk the money on a project without enough equity behind it.

We started receiving donations through friends and family through Facebook and secured the first monthly payment for the LLC for the company name plus enough money to put in a business bank account.

Our next step is to raise money for the next two months of the LLC and purchase equipment for our next fundraiser, “Portrait Day in the Park,” where families, seniors, actors, models, pets and kids can come out and get “mini-sessions” with us at a discounted rate.

With the money made from this, we are hoping to secure a down payment on a studio in Deerfield, Ill.

What’s your background in photography? I got my first 110mm film camera in kindergarten, and I’ve had a camera with me since. My grandfather is an artist, and my grandmother was a photographer for Akron Children’s Hospital for years — it’s in my blood.

I went to collage at Ohio University for photojournalism and Kent State University for commercial and studio photography. I worked on the campus newspaper and magazine, plus did photography for the marketing department.

After graduation, I accepted a position as web editor and photographer for The Daily Journal in Kankakee, Ill. For the past two years, I have worked as studio manager and photographer for CPI Corporation and worked as assistant for S1 Photography for wedding photography on weekends.

What is your favorite thing to shoot? The two biggest challenges are children and weddings. Children give you about 20 minutes, if you’re lucky, to shoot, and if you use the most of it, the photos are something their parents will cherish for years. Weddings are equally challenging because you get only one chance, but if you do it well, those pictures are worth more than gold. To remember the day your family started — it’s quite amazing to capture that.

Tell me about YOU! I am in constant awe of what life can give you if you put take leaps of faith. When I was younger, I could be quite shy. In high school some of my biggest regrets were not putting myself out more and believing in what I could do. That changed in college. I started to really believe in myself and in turn, others did, and the doors really opened for me.

Some of my favorite things: my husband, my family, my best friends, Chicago, Ohio (it gets a bad rap, but I still love my home state), old cameras, newspapers, magazines, church, traveling, the beach, movies, The Office and Facebook.

Barbies or Popples? I had dozens of Barbies growing up (some which may or may not have also been played with by my younger brother and his Ninja Turtles), and absolutely loved them. They had a house my parents bought at a garage sale. They had horrible haircuts (I didn’t get why their hair never grew back), and they had frequent love-triangles with the Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers.

Want to help Melissa? Fan Portraits Couture on Facebook (and shoot them a hello on their wall, tell them Snap, Crackle, Pop sent you!). If you’d like to donate anything — even a $1 to go toward this dream — check out the donation link on the page.

Good luck, Melissa!

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