Jamelle Kelly and Cameron Clark are owners of Cameron + Kelly Studios in downtown Flagstaff. The two offer unique photography, concentrating on their favorite subjects: people. While customer service is their biggest focus, the pair thoroughly enjoy their craft, bringing laughter and professionalism into each work day. Flagstaff Business News caught up with Jamelle and Cameron to learn more about what they offer to the Northern Arizona community.
Photography is popular business in a region like ours. How is Cameron + Kelly Studios unique?
We are people photographers, so we don’t really compete with a lot of the landscape artists in this region; however, yes, with the advent of digital photography, everyone is a photographer of some order. It has really raised the creative bar for photographers and it definitely keeps us on our toes. It has taken my whole career to accurately anticipate great composition within moments– I know that is our strength. cameron + kelly studios is unique because each photograph tells a story. We take a family session or wedding and we let it play out; we try not to interrupt too much: we just let personalities shine. Jamelle Kelly and I work as a team and I believe that is also our strength, one of us “wrangles” so the other can truly focus on observing and creating. It’s an ebb and flow that we’ve come to rely on and it helps our clients be themselves.
What is your business philosophy?
We believe in great customer service and we want our clients to know they are unique. We take a small number of wedding commissions each year so that we can foster personal relationships with our clients. Together, Jamelle and I keep everyday fun and laugh a lot.
What are the biggest challenges in your business?
In Flagstaff, believe it or not, our biggest challenge lies in convincing the client that they cannot do what we do… or rather, to invest their money in professional photography. I tell our clients that despite the cost of hiring a professional photographer, you will never regret it. Your child will only be two years old once. If you don’t capture that essence now, you must rely on your memory to tell that story or your own family photos. As we’ve moved forward in our business we’ve put a bigger emphasis on the moments a family has together. We try to schedule our family sessions around an activity that the family might actually do together even if we weren’t there. This helps capture genuine emotion.
What role does the internet or technology play in your company?
Huge role. Technology is everything to a modern photographer, if fact, if you don’t like computers, gadgets, and technical jargon, photography is not for you. While being an artist is also key in this business, it’s honestly much more important to stay current with all the technology, social media and day-to-day business roles. We have a very active website/blog that we update weekly, I am on Twitter at least once a day and we update our Facebook page constantly. Because our business is so visual, the internet has been an amazing marketing tool for us and it continues to be our number one source of new clientele.
What do you do to stay current as a business person?
We attend workshops and photography conferences yearly, it helps us reach out to other photographer colleagues and stay current with new techniques. We have a few new projects in the works that will connect us with the Flagstaff community even more. Jamelle is working on her masters in Photography and of course we devour any business books we can get our hands on. I frequently ask other business owners about their successes and failures just to see what might apply in our own business. Networking with other nationally known photographers is also a big part of what I do in the business.
When we shoot weddings, our focus is not just a single moment or the perfect portrait. We feel that telling the whole story of this special day includes all the small, yet poignant, details; the bride’s preparations, the groom’s first look at his bride, a father’s toast, and the sweet emotion of the a first dance. We believe that preparing for the event means understanding the relationships in your family so that we can anticipate certain special moments. The more time we have to be a wallflower around those you love, the better your photos will look. Our desire is the pictures will tell the real story of your family. We create photo-documentary albums that will be part of your family’s history forever.
For portrait sessions, we want it to be fun for the whole family. We tell the kids that we are going to “play” with them and so try to keep it from feeling like a stuffy posed portrait session. With the family’s trust and support we can capture their true essence. If you arrive with the goal to have fun for an hour with your family, our job is easy.
Clients tell us that we were the “stealth” team–that we were everywhere and no where all day long. Guests often ask how we know the bride and groom because they seem so at ease in our presence. They are usually shocked to find out, we only know our clients professionally.