Alumni profile: Janelle Elise runs a thriving wedding photography business in Nashville

November 4, 2017
Janelle Elise

Janelle Elise has an amazing way of capturing a moment.

The Crown College alumna runs a thriving photography business in Nashville, and her work has a professional edge you don’t often see (see samples below). caught up with her recently and asked about how she got started and what she learned at Crown.

How did you start your photography business?

I have always loved the camera. In high school I became the “school photographer” and was part of the yearbook committee. I would often ask to be excused for class because I would ask to go get photos of kids around the school, it was pretty great. I was using my family’s Canon Rebel and thought it was the coolest thing. I starting renting lenses, and taking pictures of anyone who would let me. I have always loved weddings, and I am a romantic, so naturally wedding photography became of interest. I started as a second shooter for other photographers, and slowly but surely, grew my business to what it is today. I have always loved it, and it has always come very natural to me.

How have you seen growth over the years?

Over the seven years of business I have become very well established with my clients. I receive a lot of weddings from word of mouth, and most recently from Instagram. I have found that if you do it right, you can attract the right client to you via Instagram. But, I don’t want to be fake on there. I strive to be as genuine and authentic as possible. I have noticed a great growth because of that, because people feel they can connect and relate. They feel like they know me and we could be friends.

Who are some of your clients and how did that come about?

My clients are newly engaged couples looking for a wedding photographer. I have worked hard to brand myself in a way that attracts my specific style client. My ideal couple is easy going, fun, and always up for an adventure. It is key for my clients to trust me. When they do, I can make magic on their wedding day. I enjoy capturing the raw organic moments throughout the day, and I feel like that attracts a certain bride. Most of my business comes from word of mouth. I have never put money into advertisements in a magazines or anything. I have found that the word of mouth clientele is a great fit for me.

What are some lessons you’ve learned as a business owner?

Taxes!! I have never really been a big numbers person. I was fortunate enough to have great parents that taught me more about that side of things. My passion is the photo taking and editing, not so much the business end. So that has been the biggest hurdle for me.

What do you remember about your time at Crown and what you learned?

My experiences went beyond the classroom. I am a huge extrovert and love people, so my favorite thing about college was being surrounded by people, all the time. I have always enjoyed “smaller” schools because of the community it creates. Being able to make friends with other students, and having the opportunity to have one on one attention with the teachers is awesome. I love when you can be on a name-to-name basis with so many people.

What advice do you have for students pursuing a creative career?

Pursue your dreams! Photography can be scary, especially these days when it feels like everyone wants to be a photographer. Don’t compare yourself to others and always give it your all, all the time. Get yourself out there, and work for free in the beginning to get experience and build a portfolio. There is no shame in that. It takes time to build a clientele, so don’t be hard on yourself. The creative career road can be hard, but it is so rewarding. I am lucky enough to feel like I am not even working on a wedding day because it is such a passion of mine. The business side of things on the other hand, I had to work at. Be yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Trust yourself and your style, and don’t forget to give it all to God.

What has God taught you lately about balancing life and work?

Take time for Him. Don’t let your business consume you. In the early years of my business, it was easy for me to put all of my focus on that. My business was my number one priority. It is great to have goals, and to value your work, but it’s more important to be sure that you are keeping God the focus. At the end of the day you should be asking yourself, does this bring glory to God?