Martha Abelson - Studio Share Photography Member Highlight


Here at Studio Share Photography we like to highlight members and their businesses so you can get to know them!  Hopefully you resonate with some of their successes and challenges as a small business owners.

Meet Martha Abelson of Martha Abelson Photography.  She has been on board with us since December of 2015.   I am so excited for you to check out her work!  She is definitely one of those photographers who shows off her artistry through her use of lighting, posing and overall connection with her clients.   I appreciate her professionalism and her tenacity when it comes to her business and how she runs it!

When I asked Martha whether she shot Nikon or Canon she said "other" - she's a bi-shooter, she shoot both Nikon (d700) and canon (5dmkiii).  :D  And it depends on what she's shooting as to which lens is her favorite (true professional answer for ya).  Martha shoots both natural and studio light, again, depending on her subject matter.   I happened to be in the studio when she was working with some dancers a while back - and it was so cool to watch her use the 86" plm umbrella shooting past them, spilling beautiful light onto her subjects as they jumped and spun. 

Here are some of the other questions I asked her:

Are you from this area? Why do you live in the midwest?

I am from NYC originally. I moved to Chicago for work 23 years ago and met my husband here, so the midwest is officially home.

Tell us a little bit about your family...

In addition to my husband, I have three teenage daughters, a sophomore in college and twins that are juniors in high school. I also have a cute but dysfunctional coonhound named Scarlett.

How long have you been in business?

Roughly 13 years.

What got you started in photography? And how did you build your skill set?

My path to becoming a professional photographer has been fairly typical. I started photographing my own kids, then my friend's kids, then one day woke up and discovered that I was in business. My path to legitimacy took a couple of more years, as I discovered that running a business was much more than just taking beautiful photographs :) Over the years I have taken many photography classes and workshops, both in-person and on-line, and am committed to ongoing education and improvement.

What type of photography do you specialize in?

I have two main areas of specialty, and for both I work both on-location and in-studio: Headshots/Branding Images and Family Portraits.  I also work with several dance schools to help with their portrait needs.

What are the names of 1 or 2 photographers that inspire you?

Annie Lebovitz  and Vikki Sloviter

What is the hardest thing about being a photographer?

Staying focused. There's always more a photographer can be doing, learning, exploring yet there are only so many hours in a day. To (at least try to) strike a good balance between my business life and personal life, I'm always prioritizing how I spend my time. The photographer/educator Sue Bryce tells her students to consider the question "does it make the ship go faster?" when considering whether or not to purchase the latest gee-whiz equipment or prop or studio doo-dad, and I think of that question often -- not just in terms of how I spend my money, but also in regard to potential investments of time.

What has been surprisingly easy? (if anything)

Staying passionate after all these years!

Would you be willing to briefly tell about a time that you were afraid in your business? And how you worked through that?

I had certain business policies and procedures in place for quite some time, such as providing online previews prior to in-person ordering meetings, that made aspects of running my business more challenging for me while providing no demonstrable benefit to my clients. Even though I knew I could serve my clients better with a more simplified workflow, I was afraid to implement changes because I thought clients would feel slighted in some way. I finally made a change, and found out that I had made a mountain out of a molehill. Giving clients an excellent experience from start to finish has little to do with any specific policy!

If you could share one piece of advice with a photographer just starting out, what would you tell them?

The non-photography parts of being a photographer are at least as important, if not more so, than the quality of your images. Learn how to interact with your clients and to treat them like gold even while setting expectations and boundaries. Learn how to price yourself profitably, and to deliver upon (or better yet, exceed!) your promises.

Why did you decide to be part of Studio Share Photography?

I decided that a studio space would allow me to expand my family photography business in a way that wasn't tied to the sunrise/sunset calendar or Accuweather, and would allow me to explore a somewhat different aesthetic where the environment takes a backseat to my subjects and their relationships.

5 years from now, where do you see yourself and your business?

I believe that creating an atmosphere that is supportive, warm and fun is the most important thing that I do for my clients because it's the best way to produce images that are not just beautiful -- but also help tell an important story about the person(s) being photographed. Five years from now, I hope I am continuing to make clients relaxed, confident and empowered in front of the camera, regardless of whether the purpose of being photographed is to help build their business or to capture priceless family memories.


So what are the dreams for your business?  Have you thought 5 years out?  Are there steps you're taking right now to move towards those dreams and goals?  If you need a professional, indoor place to shoot this coming winter, give us a shout out.  We'd love to hear more about your business and how we may be able to serve you.   Studio Share Photography has locations in Libertyville, IL and Barrington, IL.