Tracy Frank, Published September 04 2010
Photographers look for niche in Fargo-Moorhead area
The expectant parents may not have realized that they had taken a moment for each other in the middle of all that was happening and they likely would not have remembered the look that said so much had it not been for a photographer, who quietly and unobtrusively preserved the story of their twins’ births through her camera lens.
“The moment when that baby enters the world, it is amazing,” said photographer Ann Arbor Miller. “It is an amazing experience to participate in and to be allowed to document.”
Miller’s birth story photography is an example of the unique photographic work being done in the Fargo-Moorhead market.
With the numbers of new photography businesses popping up – sometimes as many as two or three new ones each month – experienced photographers say it’s more important than ever to create their own niche.
After all, photography is more than posed senior pictures and weddings these days. Photographing kids, babies, and pets – even senior photos and weddings – as events unfold has become increasingly popular.
Milestones Photography, based in West Fargo, was one of the first area photography businesses to use this photojournalism style in its wedding and portrait photography.
Owner and photographer Dave Arntson and principal photographer Britta Trygstad both have photojournalism backgrounds.
“We cut our teeth on shooting sports and fires and all of that helps in photographing a wedding day by being able to anticipate moments, knowing how to stay out of the way,” Arntson said.
For Milestones, it’s their experience and award-winning photography that sets them apart.
“It’s those emotional moments that happen in an instant that we’re able to get,” Arntson said.
Capturing elusive moments is also the specialty of photographer Ria Czichotzki of rialee photography in Fargo. She shoots photos of newborns less than 2 weeks old.
“It’s such an amazing time in the life of a family, and you just don’t get that time back,” Czichotzki said. “You’re kind of sleep-deprived and you don’t remember those first few moments, so it’s great to have them in images.”
Czichotzki is a self-taught mom-turned-photography-entrepreneur. She has also started offering playful dog portraits shot in studio or on location.
“I do think it’s important that anybody who is looking into having a business finds their own niche,” she said.
Several area photographers offer specialized techniques or unique services that set them apart.
- Photographer Yvonne Denault is becoming known for her boudoir photography, which she describes as classic, tasteful pin-up photos.
She started offering the style after photographing a woman who wanted to surprise her husband who was serving overseas.
“I just started seeing how it made women feel really great about themselves,” Denault said.
Some do it for a significant other, but many do it for themselves, she said.
“It’s really classy, glamorous photography,” Denault said. “It isn’t so much about the product, it’s about the feeling. … She feels great about her body as she is.”
- Vern Whitten specializes in outdoor and aerial photography of lakes, real estate, commercial and scenic photos.
He’s had a pilot’s license for 40 years and started shooting aerial photos more than 30 years ago.
One of his photos of sandbaggers during the spring 2009 flood hangs in Fargo City Hall.
“That means more than the business because I want people to see this,” Whitten said. “It tells you about what we’re about.”
Whitten said for him, the key to a successful business is enjoying what he does. He said he could never be a wedding photographer.
- All Event Photography in Casselton, N.D., offers party-based portrait sessions where groups of people can get together to socialize and have their portraits taken.
There’s no session fee, and participants chose whether to purchase their prints, said owner Jessica Sell, who opened her studio Aug. 1.
“They’re very quick sessions but still very quality,” she said. “I want to make it as fun as possible.”
A recent Ladies’ Night session, where women were treated to makeovers before having glamour shots taken, was a huge hit, Sell said. Many participants were moms who hadn’t had a good photo taken of themselves alone since their wedding or senior photos, she said.
- Photographer Dan Francis has incorporated video into his photo sessions. He shoots video and photos of families doing everyday things like walking down the street, cooking or children playing.
“It shows more of the life of the family than a still photograph,” Francis said.
He intersperses still images throughout the video to show the emotion of the moment, he said.
Francis also offers senior videos with portraits for his clients to post on social networking websites.
“It’s easier to get your name out there if you show clients something they haven’t seen,” he said. Area photographers say technology is the reason there are so many new photo businesses now. Digital photography makes it easier, there are entry-level editing programs, prints can be ordered from online galleries, and workshops and how-to guides for creating photo businesses are available online.
To make sure you’re working with a reputable photographer, Arntson and Miller suggest asking to see the photos from an entire session to get a feel for a photographer’s quality and style. A lot of people can get one or two good photos, they say.
Consumers should also ask about experience and equipment, such as what happens if a photographer only has one camera and it breaks during a wedding.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526