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Exploring Life & Business with Chantéa Williams-Poole of Chantéa Nicole Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chantéa Williams-Poole.

Hi Chantéa, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
My love for photography started during my childhood. I would often flip through the photo albums at home and loved to look at a time that existed before my birth, my baby photos, or the photos of family members in their youth who were present or no longer with us. The pages were not only filled with pictures but more importantly the stories and history that surrounded them. Looking through these albums never got old and would later become part of the foundation of my passion.

Let’s skip over the part when I tell you that in the 6th grade, I started buying disposable cameras and I would just take photos of any and everything. Disposable cameras were replaced by my first 35mm film camera, and eventually into digital. (I still have undeveloped film in a box and likewise unprinted photos on a thumbdrive.) I became that friend that was sure to have memorable photos from different events or occasions.

With the risk of sounding cliché, family and friends filled my head with comments like, “You have a great eye. You should take photography more seriously.” I eventually did just that. I made the conscious decision to begin honing in on my hobby and investing in workshops and courses, attending “Youtube University” night after night, joining meet ups with local photographers and models, assisting and learning from amazing experienced and established photographers, and practicing nonstop.

With the amazing help of a mentor and peers within the industry, I have been able to really dig deep and clarify my brand and pinpoint the direction I want to move in. It all comes full circle, really. I want to be the photographer to capture the forever memories for families, couples, and individuals so that they too can have their children and grandchildren sit down and flip through the photo albums.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I think one part that is often neglected when turning a hobby into a business is, ironically, the actual business part. I quickly learned that there is so much more to running a sustainable and profitable photography business than taking photos. That fun part is a small piece of the pie. Starting a business isn’t cheap. It takes a lot of investing into it before seeing any return. It also takes a lot of time, energy and sacrifice.

At the top of 2020, I was determined to make sure the foundation for my business was solid and to work towards doing photography full-time. Then the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head. A lot of plans and goals I had set were derailed by the unknown. This was a hard hit financially, mentally, and emotionally. There were moments I felt absolutely no motivation and completely lost. But there was something encouraging about knowing that I was not the only one experiencing these challenges and seeing how others pivoted into making opportunities for themselves despite the circumstances.

The entire world has changed, and shifting my mindset was key. Early on in the pandemic, I lost my full-time job. As sudden as a change it was, it allowed more time and space for clarity. Instead of halting the steps towards all my goals, I created new ones and kept pushing forward. I ended 2020 clearer on the vision and purpose for my business. Now, in the final quarter of 2021, I am still building, and working hard on getting to the level I desire to be at. Every day isn’t smooth-running. I am steadily pushing myself out of my comfort zone and doing things scared rather than not doing them at all. But I do acknowledge my growth and it’s only up from here! The setbacks of 2020 gave me the hunger and drive I needed. What’s the saying? “When life gives you lemons, you start a lemonade stand.” Well, that’s my version of it at least. HaHa!

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We specialize in Family and Lifestyle Portraits.

I have become extremely passionate about photographing women like me. Let me explain that in more depth. As beautiful and amazing as motherhood has been, it also has changed a lot. The struggle of balancing all parts of my world mixed with changes to my body…my self-confidence slipped away. I went from someone who loved taking photos to completely hiding from the camera. Looking at photos of my own family, I realized how often I was missing from them and how I needed to make that change.

When I ran a poll online asking why mothers haven’t gotten any recent family portraits taken, the common response was because they didn’t like how they looked. It brought me back to a younger me looking at pictures of my own mother and grandmother, and never once did I pick them apart and criticize them. My focus was just on how beautiful they looked….how bright their smiles were. Our families don’t see us the same way we see ourselves and thank goodness for that, because we can be so harsh on ourselves. They are just happy to look back and see mom in photos with them. My mission is to empower, motivate and promote the beauty in the different versions of yourself at the different stages in your life, and to show up in that version confidently and beautifully.

Another important component to my business is having my clients see themselves in print again– something that has seemed to become less important in the age of technology and social media. There is something magical about seeing your portraits on your walls, or in a beautiful album. It’s important to have those tangible photos to pass down to tell your family’s history. See, there it is again…that full circle moment. I also have realized many clients will intend to print their photos at a later date, and never do. I take that task off my client’s hands and give them a full personal experience from a detailed planning consultation to an awesome photoshoot to the hand delivery of products showcasing their favorite images. Providing a great client experience along with amazing images is top of the list for me and is what I believe sets me apart.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
When I reflect on my childhood, I feel grateful.

I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where the winters were long and summers too short. Winter was for tobogganing down steep hills and snowball fights. Summer was fun-filled with staying outside playing until dark, trips to the amusement park and fairgrounds, and running through the sprinklers at grandma’s house. Growing up was fun. It was free. My friends and I used to create dance routines and preform at the school talent shows. I can still remember some of the moves to this day.

I have very fond memories of Christmas time. It was and still is my favorite holiday. I grew up with a huge extended family and that made the holidays extra special. I had many different parties and dinners to attend with lots of cousins, laughter, music, games, and food. Christmas time will always feel magical to me. I am blessed to be filled with many great childhood memories.

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