Meet Serena - November Member Highlight

 Photo Credit:   JC Photography

Photo Credit:  JC Photography

Want to meet one of our 'oldest' Studio Share Photography members?  *wink, wink* Yep, she goes WAY back to October of 2013 when she signed on a month after we first opened.

Serena Hughes is one of the most caring, helpful, selfless people I know.  Check out her work at myshutterbugphoto.  Her specialties are high school seniors, families and professional head shots!  It has been so cool to see her business blossom!

She's a Nikon shooter and loves the 85 mm lens.  Most of her work consists of natural light - but I know she's beginning to master studio light as well!

She lives in Grayslake, IL now, but was raised in Mundelein, IL. and was born in PA.  (truth be told a small part of her feels like that is another home away from home when she visits there).

Serena is married to a wonderful hardworking man, and they have four kids, ranging in age from 8-21.  This past April they became grandparents!  Serena says she is so blessed to have a loving family, not to mention two awesome extended families!

She has been in business for approximately 8 years but it was less than part time while she was home with the kids (can you relate?).   She feels the last 5 years is when she really started paying attention to the business side of things.

I asked Serena what got her started in photography and how she built her skill set.  

Serena said, "My Aunt gave me her Canon AE-1 (film) and I was in love! Learning to develop your own film is something I truly can't describe how satisfying it can be. Watching your image emerge was so suspenseful, and fun. From there on I just dabbled and did photography as a hobby.  In 1999, we lost my nephew, and I was the last to photograph him with his brother.  I realized the power of photography in that moment and that's when I started to take it more seriously and learned more about the artistic side of it. My interest in photography grew over the next few years, and fell into place to become a small business.  I learned what I know from other photographers, as well as taking classes, attending a few seminars, hands on, and of course, research".

Serena have gone out in search of the high school senior market.  "This is the last guaranteed photo shoot we do for our kids as parents. There's something about taking these photos of young adults about to embark into the real world, they're excited and happy".  Her favorite part is hearing a parent tell her, "you captured their smile, the one I remember when they were 5"!

Photographers that inspire Serena, besides her close friends, are Sandy Puc and Jen Basford.

When I asked her what the hardest thing was about being a photographer, she said believing in herself and her style.  She struggles all the time in worrying about being good enough. Especially now that there seems to be so many photographers out there,  she can get stuck comparing her work to others.  (easy to get caught in that rut)

Serena thinks it's surprisingly easy for her to get her clients to feel comfortable shooting with her. (I can totally see that!)

Every time I interview a member, I like to ask the question about a time when they were afraid in their business, and what they did to work through that.  Serena says it was only two years ago, she had to adjust her business plan and pricing.  She lost a lot of clients due to raising her prices, she struggled emotionally with this and agonized over it.  In time, however, she has gained many new clients.  They value her work and she feels a lot more confident in what she does!  What a testimony!  This is SO COMMON to photographers in the first few years of their business.  Having the courage to walk through this stage of a photography business and actually come out the other side is so cool to watch.  Nice job, girl.  Keep up the good work!

If Serena could share one piece of advice with a photographer just starting out, she would tell them, "embrace your own style"!  That sounds like a great idea....may take a little bit to figure out what it is....but still a good thing to strive for!

So, like I said at the beginning, Serena joined Studio Share Photography a month after we opened.  Inviting clients to her basement felt a little awkward and she wanted a studio but the price tag of renting her own space was just too much for her to afford. A fellow photographer friend of hers took her to an open house at a studio in town, that's where she met me (Jenni), and she knew she needed to join!  I'm surprised I didn't scare her off.  :D  

She loves being able to offer studio and on location sessions. Serena says having the space has helped her stand out in the style she enjoys.  She gets to stay true to her style both indoors and out...her business now has the ability to shoot year round.

5 years from now Serena sees herself incorporating more studio sessions with her high school seniors and sees her business soaring!

When all is said and done, she would rather stay up late to edit rather than get up early.  And she originally told me that she would choose salty over sweet...but a few days later she changed her mind after telling me she was just pulling a pan of salted caramel brownies out of the oven.  Yum....doesn't that sound good?

Are you tired of having clients come into your home?  Are you ready to take your photography business to an improved level of professionalism?  Contact us.  We'd love to chat with you about how Studio Share Photography could serve your business!  Don't be afraid - I promise it will be a worth it.