Amy Salessi and IE Photo Rentals have been a great team since we met back in the same parking lot where we first met Kai Streets. Back in our modest days, Amy was just starting off her career and who knew it would have blossomed to where it is now… would we be lying if I said, I did? LOL. The answer is yes because somewhere along the line, this mother of three took her work to new heights.
I specifically remember watching this lady’s work on my FB news feed and telling myself that there was a tremendous amount of talent in Amy’s work. I loved the fact that she wasn’t shooting weddings, cars, airplanes, zoo animals, sports and whatever came her way. She found her calling in photographing children and families. This was her comfort zone and she knew exactly how to handle it well. Speaking from experience, photographing children takes a lot of patience, energy and creative thinking. So it was easy for me to see that this girl was going places.
But instead of me telling you guys how great she is, take a look for yourself. We met up at a local park in the San Dimas area just after a rogue rain storm drenched the streets for 30 mins. Yes it was sticky and stinky but that didn’t phase Amy at all. She was so down to get wet and dirty in the grass. I was able to grab some candids of her working and also spending some time with her three beautiful daughters.
IEPR Amy, please tell us how long you have been shooting and how you got started in photography.
Amy I signed up for a photography class through the City of Glendora that a friend of mine (Glendora Police Officer Gwen Lacombe) was teaching in 2006 when I was pregnant with Sophia. I was working full time and taking the class one night a week just for fun. I had recently purchased a Canon Rebel and just wanted to learn how to use it. At that time I never thought I would be making a living from it, but a few years later I found myself out of work and had to figure out what I wanted to do. I took some time to really explore what it was I wanted to do as a career, and with my new found free time decided to take another photography class. Friends started asking me to take pictures for them, and before I knew it I had found myself plenty of families that were happy to let me practice on them. I officially opened my business in March 2010.
IEPR Do you think you will continue your path shooting children or do you see yourself venturing into other areas?
Amy My passion is shooting children and families and I don’t see that changing. It’s what makes me happy. I also love shooting births and hope to do this more as the girls get older. Right now it is hard to schedule these around our busy family life.
IEPR Please tell us who inspires you.
Amy There is a long list, but some of my absolute favorite photographers are Tiffany Bender of Munchkins and Mohawks and Cayden Lane Photography. I am also a huge fan of Kelle Hampton and wish I took half the amount of pictures she takes of her own family every day. I love being able to capture our every day life but find myself pulling out my iPhone more often than my camera these days- easier to manage with my active little 5 month old on one hip, I guess!
IEPR What has been the most interesting thing you have learned so far about the industry?
Amy I have learned how important it is to establish relationships within the industry. I didn’t realize how much I would NEED these relationships, but I do. I have met a wonderful community of amazingly talented people. I have learned so much from these photographers and they challenge me to do better every day. Plus, they lend me their camera when mine is in the shop 😉
IEPR What is the most difficult part about each shoot?
Amy Not knowing what you are going to walk in to. With children, especially toddlers, I can almost always predict how the session will go within the first five minutes of the shoot. You just can’t always control a child’s mood and if they are tired or hungry or sick or just not feeling like being there you have got to think quick to get the session turned around before it crashes.
IEPR What has been the biggest challenge for you in this job so far?
Amy Trying to do it all myself. I had no idea what a challenge the business side of it all would be! It’s a lot to manage and keep organized, and I really have to schedule myself time to keep it all under control. When I first started I thought I would only be working 2-3 days a week. Not quite. I might only shoot 3-4 hours a week but I am definitely working full time, between editing, answering clients, marketing, blogging, etc. If I continue to stay this busy I will probably be looking for an assistant in the near future to keep me organized.
IEPR Are you self taught or did you go to school?
Amy I didn’t go to school for it, but I have taken a few classes and workshops here and there. Almost everything I have learned has been from online classes, shooting with other photographers, and just getting out there and practicing A LOT.
Photo credit: Joy Prouty
IEPR What do you think makes you successful?
Amy My relationships with my clients. I have the most loyal clients ever, and I truly feel honored that they have chosen me! I see some clients four or five times a year! It makes me feel so good to know that I have made them happy and they keep coming back. I feel like I have made so many friends throughout this journey, and every time I get to see their sweet families it just makes me happy.
I also have an extremely supportive family who are definitely my biggest fans. They have offered me so much support and encouragement and were the ones that first saw what I was capable of and pushed me to do it.
IEPR Do you see yourself continuing to freelance or eventually do commercial work?
Amy Oh wow. That doesn’t even seem like a possibility at this time. I would love to do commercial work, but I will probably continue to freelance until the girls are a little bit older. I like being able to work around their schedules and still get to enjoy days off with them. I don’t want to over commit myself at this point in their lives. Every minute with them I cherish.
IEPR Tell us about a fantasy shoot… what kind of gear, props and models do you see?
Amy Oooh… a big, huge trunk of Persnickety and Matilda Jane clothes, lots of little girls, big balloons & tons of color. A field of wildflowers (which by the way are hard to come by in this area!), a perfect sunset…It’s actually not so much a fantasy – I am sure I can pull something like this together- one day when I have the time! I have also had a shoot in my head for some time and really need to get out and do it. That one is a surprise, though 🙂 There is nothing I love more than shooting for fun, for myself. It is so rewarding!
IEPR What would you tell other photographers out there who look to you for inspiration? What advice would you give yourself 3 years ago?
Amy Do not compare yourself to other photographers. Only compare yourself to the photographer you were last week. We all started somewhere! It seems so overwhelming in the beginning- focus on one aspect of your business or one thing you want to learn each week. Master that one thing before you move on to the next. I still have so much to learn, and I still make myself weekly goals. You WILL get there!
Thank you Amy for taking the time to speak to us about your career. We hope that others will be inspired by your work and we hope to see you push boundaries you haven’t pushed before. Til the next time!