For years, Christy was one of those photographers I watched from a distance on social media and secretly thought, Man, I reeeeeeeally want her to take our pictures!! I loved her ability to capture genuine smiles and the emotion of a moment, and her candid, comfortable approach toward her sessions was obvious from the photos she posted. I was so excited when we were finally able to use her for the Hendrickson family photo shoot earlier this year, and I couldn’t be happier with the gorgeous pictures she gave us!
I knew when I started my Small Biz Spotlight feature posts that I only wanted to share businesses I could personally advocate for. I’m not getting paid to promote any of these people; I’m just sharing things that I like with you in the hopes that you’ll support those faces behind the businesses too! Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to experience a few of the struggles associated with running your own shenanigans, especially when it comes to marketing and building rapport. And I want to do whatever I can to be a cheerleader for other people like me, and any friends who are working hard on their dream. So, without further ado, say hello to Christy Cromer of Cromer & Co.!
Embracing the Chaos: What made you want to become a photographer? What were you doing before?
Cromer & Co.: “This might sound super cliche but….I’ll say it anyways. Growing up, I always remember my mom having a camera in her hand taking pictures of us. She took pictures of the regular mundane days as well as softball games, dance recitals, birthday parties, Christmas morning, etc. My grandpa also always had a camera in his hand – heck, he even had his own dark room where he developed his own film. So I grew up around it. I remember in high school being interested and taking photos of my friends and activities but it wasn’t until I had my kids that I really became interested. Once those babies were here, I remember this overwhelming since of urgency to capture EVERYTHING! Their tiny feet and hands, their baby mohawks and silly smiles, their giggles and baby fat rolls. I bought my first ‘fancy’ camera when Kasen, my second little one, was about two months old. My obsession with capturing every moment of my kids lives turned into a fun hobby and eventually my side-business.
I was working as a nurse at the Women’s Center in Durant and I had four kids under the age of 6 *I know, I gasped too!* I was working 2-3 shifts per week and I felt like I was missing a lot of time with them. I would leave the house before they were awake and a lot of time I would not get home until late and they were already in bed asleep. I knew I wanted to be available and present for them, more than what I was doing at the time. So I really started working hard to get better with my camera so that I felt comfortable taking pictures of other people. I slowly backed off on my nurse work days and dabbled in photography part-time. Eventually I was able to resign completely and do photography full time.”
ETC: What training/resources/etc. did you use to get started?
C&C: “Honestly, I watched TONS of YouTube videos about my camera. I learned it inside and out so that I could manipulate it and make it do what I wanted it to do. I also studied other photographers’ work. When I became really serious about wanting to do this as my full-time job, I started attending workshops online and in person. The online workshops were mostly all geared towards newborn photography. For the in-person workshops, I found photographers that inspired me and made me want to be better, and the ones who I felt I would connect with the most. They were: Joy Neville’s Tell A Story workshop in Dallas, Kimmy Howard’s Newborn Workshop in Indianapolis, and most recently the Own It Workshop with Wyn Wiley, Ellie Berry & Abbey Moore in Breckenridge, CO.”
ETC: Work-wise, do you consider your business a full-time or part-time gig?
C&C: “This is definitely a full-time gig. To some, it may seem that being photographer is easy, but I spend a LOT of time sitting at the computer either: culling images, editing, responding to emails/texts/Facebook messages, or watching online educational resources. I may only spend one hour with you and your family, but what goes on behind the scenes (aka at my computer desk) is time-consuming. During my busy fall season, I spend almost every available moment at my desk. All of this while still trying to be a mom and wife and friend!”
ETC: Where does your inspiration come from as an artist?
C&C: “I would say it comes from the people in front of my camera. I try to approach each session with the idea that there is no one else like these people in the world. I want to tell a story, whether it’s a couple who are crazy in love and they have a silly way of showing it, a new mom who loves to smell the top of her newborn’s head…maybe it’s the way the grandparents look on as their granddaughter or grandson is saying ‘I do’. I don’t know, I think it is just as important to catch the in-between, unposed moments as it is the posed ones. I honestly believe that a photo of you hugging your grandma at your wedding is going to be way more important to you than the Instagram-worthy posed moment at just the right time during the sunset. Everyone has a story, and it’s important to document each session so that it is a true representation of the people in the images.”
ETC: What do you enjoy most about working as a photographer? The least? Has anything surprised you about being a small business owner?
C&C: “I think what I enjoy most about being a photographer is all of the relationships and connections that have come my way. I have photographed some of my clients for four years in a row now, so seeing them each year is so much fun. Especially when the kids get out of the car and run towards me with the biggest hugs to give. I’ve made a lot of friends through this little business.
The least? EDITING, and all of the hours I sit alone in my house at my computer. It can be a little lonely. I also do not enjoy the ‘business’ side of being a business owner. That’s why I have Cody, he takes care of all of that. I just take care of the people.
I think everyday is a new surprise when you are a small business owner. Honestly, the stress of knowing that this is what provides for my kids and family is stressful. Some days I think ‘Man, I’m really doing great at this whole thing,’ and other days ‘I have to find a new job, this is never going to work out…’ I also tend to overthink everything! That’s why it’s nice to have Cody to help me – he is always talking me off that cliff.”
ETC: Where do you envision your business going?
C&C: “Eventually, I would like for this to be both of our full-time jobs and maybe do some more traveling with it. We also have BIG dreams of opening a venue.”
ETC: What are the top 3 things you’d tell an aspiring photographer?
C&C: “1. SHOOT, SHOOT & SHOOT some more. You will only get better if you practice. 2. Learn your camera inside and out. You should be able to work that thing with your eyes closed in manual mode. 3. Be yourself. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison game (trust me, I know this really well). The thing is, no one else has the vision that you do or will take the same photos you can take. I feel that if you stay true to who you are, it will show in your work.”
ETC: Most importantly…cake, cookies, or pie?
C&C: “THIS IS THE HARDEST QUESTION! Can I say all three? I do the happy dance the morning of every wedding because I know my night ends with cake (and bonus points to the couple if it is Red Velvet). I also LOVE warm chocolate chip cookies and it’s almost Thanksgiving so we cannot forget the pumpkin pie.”
And now that you’ve heard a little about her, here’s a look at her work!
World’s best humans, ranked:
1. Daniel Hendrickson. ♥
I absolutely loved our little mini moment with Christy during the Hendrickson family photo shoot! The more professional pictures Daniel and I take together, the more convinced I am that we need to do it more often. Big thanks again to Cromer & Co. for the beautifully-preserved memories! You can see more of their work on their website, Facebook, and Instagram.