Almost 15 years ago, I began the process of starting my own business. It was during a recession, and good jobs were scarce. I had worked as an independent manufacturer’s representative several years earlier, and I liked overseeing my own business. It was an ideal time to follow my entrepreneurial dream.
I loved being behind the lens of a camera and wanted to find out if I could translate my passion and experience into a viable career. For three months, I worked on launching my startup and arranged several photography sessions with individuals and families. On January 1, 2008, Image Media, LLC became official!
The first year was very challenging. The main reason was I hadn’t established a solid network. When you work in a corporate environment, there is an opportunity to build community there. Outside of it, the process is very different. It can be somewhat intimidating at first. Getting involved with a community that is a great fit can make all the difference.
The Power of Community
One of the most productive outcomes of the recession was the explosion of networking that occurred. I became actively involved in local organizations and that interaction changed the direction and success of my business. During that time, I learned how to build websites and create digital content for clients. It was the perfect complement to my photography services.
One way I connected with people was to take professional photos that they could use to improve their online visibility and tell their stories. At the time I started my company, social media had become a primary outlet for communications and marketing, and powerful visual stories were key to standing out in the marketplace. The ability to tell a visual story is essential in today’s environment.
My Portrait Partner
I’ve had several strategic partners and advocates who have been instrumental in growing my business. One of the first was my beautiful (inside and out) daughter Kelly Chandler. In addition to her encouragement and support, she has worked with me as a model and assistant in iconic locations throughout the metropolitan area.
One of our sessions was in the Delmar Loop in University City. She chose the location because she lived nearby when she attended Washington University. It’s always fun to explore and discover what is special about each destination, and this neighborhood has a treasure trove of artistic possibilities! It’s double the fun when you have someone who participates in and enjoys the experience.
More Than Photography
Over a period of several decades. I’ve not only photographed individuals and groups of people, I’ve visually documented numerous events. They’ve included family celebrations, business gatherings, and fundraisers. I’ve also taken thousands of photos in the metropolitan St. Louis and St. Charles neighborhoods. I’m intrigued by the architecture, art, nature, and objects that are unique to each of them. Some of the images are included in my online photography galleries.
My love for photography has not only been a tremendous creative outlet, it has also been a valuable connector and a foundational tool for my business. When I begin the process of building a website and digital marketing plan for a client, we start with brand focus and strategic vision. When you have a clear picture of your mission and are able to convey it visually, it’s the first step to turning your dream into reality.
“The image is the prelude.” – Caren Libby