Janelle Carson is the founder of Janelle Jaqueline Photography (formerly known as IMAGE’n Me Photography). Janelle Jaqueline Photography is a Wedding and Lifestyle Photography company in the Chicago, DMV (Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia), San Antonio, and Dallas Areas.
Tell me a little bit about your current career and what your future ambitions are?
I am a Howard University c/o 2010 graduate. I am a Photographer and have been for about 5 years. In my career as a photographer, I have worked with about four different photography companies (from LifeTouch to Picture People), all of which paid me terribly. So in 2011 I decided to start my own business; Janelle Jaqueline Photography (formerly IMAGE’n Me Photography). I am a based out of Chicago but I do travel to other locations throughout the year. In the future I plan to do a lot more Travel and Destination Wedding Photography. I want to be known and sought out globally. I also want to eventually mentor other photographers just getting started.
What sparked your passion for photography?
I have always loved cameras. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with taking tons of pictures. I still have pictures that I took from middle school graduation. Photography to me is about capturing a person’s memories and making it part of their story. This is a story that can essentially outlive the individual. I believe pictures are an important part of family history and I love being able to be a part of that. It’s almost as if I have a super power: the ability to freeze time.
What are some challenges you have faced while running your own business?
Running a business is one of the hardest, most challenging, time consuming, rewarding things you will ever do. When I first decided to start a business I had no idea what that would entail. I just thought ‘I want to take pretty pictures and make some money. Should be pretty easy right?’ Boy was I wrong. I did not realize that you have to develop some business sense. First and foremost a photography business has to go through a period of not turning over a profit. Money does not come right away. Until you can build a portfolio of substance, a little bit of brand recognition and a good word of mouth referral base, no one is going to pay you top dollar. The first two years I did countless free photo shoots. And the few people that paid me were doing so because I charged such a small fee (less than $100 per shoot). Looking back I cringe at the thought of charging so little but that is how I could get clients who were willing to take a chance with a new photographer. Secondly when I have some time and experience under my belt I didn’t realize that everyone is not my client and that’s ok. When I finally started to charge people, I did not want to make my prices too high because I wanted every person to hire me as their photographer. But what I did not realize is that if everyone can afford you, then the value of your work goes down. Everyone knows a Mercedes is an awesome car. But no one goes into the dealership expecting low prices. Some people simply can’t afford one and thats ok. You cannot be a business person with the expectation that everyone will see the value in your product, craft, etc. So your goal is to deliver quality and find the clientele who is willing to pay what you feel that quality is worth. And lastly realize that starting a business is not like having a job. At a job you have set hours and responsibilities. You do your job, get a check, and go home. That’s not how entrepreneurship works. Your job is any and everything that needs to be done. I am a photographer, editor, salesperson, receptionist, cashier, web developer, social media manager, spokesperson, and a student (because there is always something new to learn). I am a one (wo)man band. I do everything because it has to get done. And I never have a time when I am not working on something. There may be times that I choose to put work to the side for my own personal sanity (lol) but I always have something I am working on, planning, or thinking of. I never clock out.
What do you want people to know about your business?
Janelle Jaqueline Photography specializes in Lifestyle and Wedding Photography. The Lifestyle Photography consists of family, children, maternity, engagement, anniversary and branding/personality photography. Most of my work is done here in Chicago, but I have been doing some traveling lately (My favorite was Hawaii), so I am willing to travel within and outside of the US for a wedding or Photo session. Destination Wedding Photography is my ultimate dream.
What makes you an Emerging Black Star in the Chicago community?
This is a hard question because I have never thought of myself in that light. But I would say because I not only want to be successful but I also want to help others find success as well. I really want to help and support other entrepreneurs in any way I can, whether that be in sharing what I have learned or hiring other entrepreneurs, or even referring them. I never thought that my success would be just for me. It will be to show someone else that it can be done. If I can do it, I know other people can.
What are three words that describe Janelle Jaqueline?
Love Create Inspire
How can people work with you?
They can visit my website: JanelleJaqueline.com to view my portfolio and for more information about my photo session and pricing. I have a Facebook business page https://www.facebook.com/janellejaquelinephoto/. You can follow me on instagram @janellejaquelinephoto. And I can be emailed at email@example.com
What words of wisdom do you have to young boys and girls who want to follow your path?
First I would say that every overnight success took years of preparation, frustration, tears, failure, and resilience. I strongly believe that the most successful people are those whose passion for their craft, field or product is more important than the profit. Yes we all want to make money, but if money is your only motivator you may give up when you don’t receive that immediately. But if passion is what drives you, you will continue to pursue your dreams even when the profit is little to none. If you keep trying and working hard, eventually your paycheck will be as big as your passion (at least thats what I keep telling myself lol). And secondly I would say God gave us the ability to dream so that we can have faith and hope in a brighter tomorrow. No one ever became successful believing that life was never going to get better or that they could not do great things. If we believe tomorrow is better than today we can make that dream a reality. So don’t ever stop dreaming.