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Meet Jamie Striplin of Crystaline Photography and Video in North-West Part

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Striplin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up with a mother who was a photographer in South Dakota and I started assisting her at a very young age which fostered my love for photography and all things creative. She purchased an old-time portrait studio when I was fourteen years old, so I worked every summer in her studio. I dressed and posed tourists in frontier/pioneer type clothing and took their photographs. I helped with every aspect of that business from taking photographs to developing and processing photos (before digital) and sales. Upon graduating from high school, I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than photography, so I convinced my parents to let me go to photography school at The Art Institute of Colorado.

I fell in love with Denver and the mountains, so I just never left. Even though I assisted many other photographers during and after my school days I always knew I wanted to run my own business. So, I started my own studio in 1999 upon graduation from The Art Institute. As of this year, I will have been in business for 20 years! My main focus has been on weddings and family portraiture, but I have photographed many different things over the years. Everything from Architectural Photographs to Corporate Events! I also had a real love of video and cinema so we purchased video equipment a few years into my business because my husband wanted a way to contribute to it. We were one of the few studios offering photo and video package options in the early 2000s. This gave us something that stood out from other photographers in the area. And in 2006, we purchased a disc jockey company called Digital DJ which has become my husband’s focus these past years while I run the photo and video business with just a few people that work for me on a contract basis.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting your own business is never easy. I worked a second job waiting tables for the first eight years of my business before I could do it exclusively without an extra income. I found as a lot of my friends from photography classes also found it a difficult profession to excel at. Many of the friends I made in college gave up photography as a career to pursue other lines of work. It is definitely a hard profession to earn money in and become established. It’s a field where there’s no degree required and because of this, anyone can say they are a photographer regardless of the number of skills they have which can also be bad news for people hiring photographers. While I don’t begrudge “self-taught” photographers, as my mother was one, it does make competition in this field very high. I think those that pursue this type of career need to really love what they do and be willing to put in a lot of long hours for very little pay in the beginning. And always be striving to better themselves and their abilities.

Another large challenge is getting people to view photography or any other artistic service as something that should be compensated fairly for. I joined many organizations that promised to help connect me with leads for my services only to have people call and ask me if I could come to take photos of their event for free. If you have a budget to hold your event at a beautiful facility than you can find money to pay someone to capture the special moments during the event. While artists usually have a great passion for their work, they can’t pay their bills or make a living doing things for free. I also understand that some artists don’t feel like their work is worth what a professional is charging, but flooding the market with a service that is free or grossly under market value does nothing but hurt themselves and the profession itself. In the long run, they will find out that they can’t support themselves at the prices they are charging or at the very least will burn out by having to do too much.

So, even though I feel like I’m at a point in my career that I have finally succeeded, there’s always going to be some struggles whether that be booking enough clients to pay the bills, keeping up with the latest trends and gear, or competing with people that undervalue their own work.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
We offer photography and video coverage for events and more. Our specialty is in wedding storytelling. We cover an approximate 15-20 of these types of events yearly, while also providing our services for other events such as dances, parties, corporate events, and portraits.

We get excited about each and every event we cover. It’s truly rewarding to get to be with people on one of the happiest days of their lives. While every wedding has some similarities, each one is different and unique to each couple. We’ve covered every size of wedding you can imagine from simple elopements where it was just the couple, us and the officiant to extravagant affairs where there were 300+ guests! Our focus is always telling the client’s story from the beginning to end, whatever that looks like.

The modern couple that is planning a wedding is looking for fun, candid, photo-journalistic coverage of their big day which is something we provide in both our photography and videography full day coverage. Our clients have said that they feel like they can relive their entire day from beginning to end through our work and that we capture moments they never even knew happened!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Denver has changed a lot in the past twenty years! Competition in my field was fierce even twenty years ago and has become even more so with an influx of more people. So, I guess I’m not sure if I had it to do over again if I’d pursue photography here, but I think it’s just a hard profession to pursue just about anywhere. Denver and the mountains that surround it is so beautiful it just naturally attracts people who love to photograph beautiful things. So, on one hand, more people means more competition, but on the other hand, more people also means more people looking for goods and services that I offer.

As a whole, I think Denver does a lot to foster the arts. There’s always been great art districts and programs for artists. And being in the wedding industry, I think Denver and the surrounding communities have a lot of amazing venues and service providers for these types of events. When I started out, I didn’t utilize many resources besides the small business administration, I did learn a lot from them though, but maybe more mentor programs for new business owners would be a great idea.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jamie Striplin of Crystaline Photography and Video, LLC

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