Chamira Young is exactly the kind of young, talented, creative professional that cities across Michigan are scrambling to attract -- and she's choosing to build her photography studio and brand in Port Huron.
OK, we might be a little biased; she's The Keel's lead photographer. But we hope that only makes her even more amazing.
Young has built most of her career in art and photography in Michigan. She was born in Kalamazoo, grew up in Detroit, and went to the University of Michigan School of Art and Design in Ann Arbor.
"That's where I first picked up a camera," Young says. "It was a great time of creating and discovering, so much fun. From there, I kind of just worked my way this way, one job a little closer than the next."
She's been an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer, and assistant magazine editor, each gig rounding out her resume in a new way. But in the end, it was photography that drew the most passion from her.
"I had to make a choice at one point. I could be a jack-of-all-trades, or I could focus on one thing, and I chose photography," says Young.
That choice eventually brought Chamira and her husband to the Port Huron area just under a year ago, although he's from the area, so it was a bit of a homecoming for him, she says.
"I've really liked getting to know the area, working with all these local businesses and meeting people," says Young. Much of her work is one-on-one with small or medium-sized businesses, creating promotional or marketing shots, product or location shots or professional head shots. She also does a limited amount of portraits for families or seniors.
Young often works on location, shooting at businesses or for clients, but when she's not, she builds her business, Chamira Studios
, from either a home office or Loft 912
in downtown Port Huron, a co-working space populated by other self-employed professionals or remote workers.
"When you walk into that space, it's dynamic," she says. "The people there, the feel of it, even the colors on the walls. It reminded me of Ann Arbor, actually. It was like an office space transported from Ann Arbor."
She praises owner Matt Brooks for creating a positive, entrepreneurial place that attracts good people and makes creativity possible, and has even used the space for some shoots.
Young's always on the lookout for ways to network and connect with other photographers and inspire learning for herself and others, which led to her other endeavor, ProPhotographerJourney.com
, a podcast and educational site focusing on the business side of professional photography.
She produces the interview-style show on a weekly basis and talks with photographers from different niches of the industry all over the world. She's interviewed red-carpet photographers, underwater photographers, and a wide range of others, with 103 episodes currently online.
Young says she wanted to offer resources to teach photographers how to build their businesses, with skills like marketing and strategy. She thought a good way to do that would be to ask successful photographers what they do that works.
"It's blown my mind that they're all so willing to talk to me," she says. Then, she shares that knowledge with other professionals through the podcast, as well as webinars, e-books, and the occasional online class.
The lessons she's been able to teach, she's also been busy learning herself, as good teachers do.
"I've learned that this is about 80 percent business, and 20 percent taking photos," she says. And with that in mind, she hopes to expand her own business in Port Huron.
"The future's not set in stone, but what would be wonderful is to bring more people into my photography business team," says Young. "What I've learned from the podcast is that successful people don't keep it just a one-man show; they bring on other people to help with different aspects of the business."
She envisions Chamira Studios becoming a place where other photographers can network and connect, while also allowing her to train other photographers in the southeast Michigan area.
Kim Eggleston is a Michigan-based freelance writer and editor.