Today we’d like to introduce you to Adrienne Walker.
Adrienne, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I became interested in photography as a young child. At age 7, I would use my sister’s kiddie camera to take photos of my stuffed animals posed around the yard. I eventually took a photography class in 8th grade, where we built our own cameras out of shoe boxes and developed our own film in a dark room. My mother still has pictures of me posing by cameras. I only considered photography as a hobby from that point on, and ended up majoring in math in college. I spent some time in my twenties studying product photography after I started my biscotti cookie business at Baylor University and my online knitting business. I noticed how a good photo will help sell a product, so I needed better photos of my products for my websites. It was important to me to improve my photography.
After I graduated from Baylor, I immediately moved to Houston with my husband and worked as a math teacher for 5 years. I had a knitting club in the school and would continue to take photos of knitting as a hobbyist, where I would enjoy creating knitting advertisements with my photos, always trying to improve. Looking back, I was always interested in photography but never really thought about it as a career until I had my own children. Once my first child was born in 2007, I quit my job as a public school math teacher to be a stay-at-home mommy. I would use my newborn as a little model for my knitted hats and outfits to sell online. My husband Brandon surprised me with my first digital camera around that time, and my photographer friend Mike would let me borrow equipment to try. My friends and family began to have babies, so I would offer to photograph their newborns with use of my knitted hats. My portfolio began to expand with each newborn, and after a year, my photography business began to take shape. I created a website and began to try new things. I went on to do weddings, families, children, high school seniors, engagements, maternity, boudoir, head shots, modeling, events, and product photography.
So now here I am, very blessed to do what I love. Lately I have been shifting my business towards fine art film photography. I love the style and the airy, grainy look that replicates 35mm film. In my spare time away from my husband, kids, and photography business, I continue to knit and I even enjoy photography mentoring, where I love to teach other moms how to use their digital cameras in manual mode. Childhood flies right by, and as parents, we are fortunate enough to live in an era where we can capture a memory with a snap of a camera to last a lifetime. I encourage parents to photograph the everyday things, like snuggles on the couch, making cookies with grandma, doing math homework on the floor, a baby bath in the kitchen sink, a toddler and his favorite animal. The little things that you love will eventually become the big things.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Starting a photography business from scratch had its share of challenges. I’m a shy person by nature, so it was very difficult for me initially to be able to help make children and families feel comfortable in front of the camera when I was not comfortable behind it. It took time. I slowly learned some tricks and games to play with all ages of children to get those genuine smiles. I get silly. I get down in the dirt. I sing toddler songs with toys on my head. I use squeaky characters on my lenses. I really had the most difficult time with engaged couples and with weddings when I first started my business around 2011: There were not any children for me to be silly. Over time, I stopped posing and started playing with couples, just like I do with children, and it worked. Now I don’t need to pose anyone because the emotions just come naturally with the games I have them try.
A big struggle I had to overcome in the beginning was not being confident in my work. I would keep my prices very low because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. That led to always being over-booked, and I was going crazy trying to do photography full time while having to be a homeschool mommy to my kids. It was hard not to compare myself to other photographers. Each one has a different style, and in the beginning, I was trying to be them all. I later took a breath and went my own way.
Clients would take advantage of me frequently during my first year. Some would enter my work in contests without my permission, trying to raise money for someone else. Later a woman actually edited makeup and a nose job onto her pictures and left my logo on the photos, as if I had done this terrible work. I was horrified. I’ve had people want me to edit wrinkles off of their clothes, blemishes off of all of their photos, and I even had one woman ask to edit her soon-to-be ex-husband out of the photos. Since then, I have learned to say no.
Please tell us about AWalker Photography.
I am a story teller. I see a photo session as a way to tell a story with genuine connections, not just posed “say cheese” shots. I will ask clients to hold hands and walk, play with the children, give an eskimo-nose kiss to their fiancé, tickle the toddler, play peek-a-boo with the baby. I also ask that clients bring something from home: maybe a child’s favorite book to read for a family session; maybe a lovely bouquet of flowers for an engagement session; maybe something from the nursery for a maternity session. I love “details” shots. My business mostly focuses on newborns, children, families, and engaged couples, where I do photo sessions near Memorial Park in Houston and near Summerwood in Atascocita/Humble. I absolutely love dogs and always encourage you to bring yours! I only do a few weddings per year now, since I stay so busy with my three children, but weddings are so fun to photograph. I arrive extra early to get shots of the wedding dress on its hanger, shots of the shoes, rings, the nervous groom buttoning up his sleeves, the bride putting on her veil. You name it and I get it all. I love to tell the story.
What sets me apart from other newborn photographers is that I knit everything myself. Its how AWalker Photography began, and I haven’t changed that! I don’t have a lot of time to knit anymore, but I have hand-knitted all of my newborn outfits, hats, and props that I use. If there is a certain look I am going for, I am able to knit it myself. I have a selection of my knitted newborn props for clients to choose from. If you are looking for something, I probably have it.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh my goodness, a favorite memory from childhood– My younger sister Andrea was the one with the blue Kodak 35mm kiddie camera back in the ’80s. As kids, I would love to take it out of her toy box when she wasn’t around and use it! I have a funny memory of wasting an entire roll of 35mm film on my Pound Puppies (stuffed animals) one day in the front yard and back. I used up her whole roll of film on them, just posing them in different places in the yard! I had a lot of explaining to do once my mom developed the film.
- Family, maternity, child, senior, and engagement sessions (in-studio or at the park) are $340 for a full session with digital photos included.
- Newborn sessions start at $400 and include digital photos and 25 free newborn announcement cards with envelopes.
- Mini sessions are offered occasionally, where I do families back-to-back (some are themed) for $190 and up, with digital photos included.
- Website: www.awalkerphoto.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/WacoHoustonFamilyPhotography
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