When her business clicked into place
Shadia Amen has always loved pictures and memories. Yet she didn’t set out to have her own photography business. In fact, she fought against it for years. A busy single mom of two, Shadia worked as a special needs Nurse’s Aid for 20 years in Dearborn, a large suburb outside of Detroit. She also dabbled in reality television, appearing in TLC’s “All-American Muslim” with her family in 2012. In 2018 she entered and won second-prize with her striking image of two chairs in an art show. But it wasn’t until being forced by her co-workers to attend a Detroit photography conference that everything clicked into place. Now, she manages Shadia Amen Photography full-time, is the official TEDx Detroit photographer, and more.
Here’s how Shadia Amen found her entrepreneurial way:
On the hardest and best thing she ever did
My very first conference was “Rock that Photography.” in 2018. I was not going to go! I was going alone and didn’t want to go alone. The day of the conference, I went into work and my coworkers got mad at me for not going to the event. They literally made me leave work, including the principal.
I went late and got up to stretch at one point during a session. The guy on stage saw me and called me up. I thought “Oh no!” shaking my head because I know I’ll have to speak in front of hundreds of people. But the worst moment of my life turned out to be my best. I got stopped by 50 people asking me about me and my photography while leaving the event.
Going to that conference and getting up on that stage was the hardest and best thing I ever did. I got my LLC a few months later. Had I not gone, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
On her unique aesthetic
I shoot differently than most people. My pictures are on the moody side versus light and airy. People love the aesthetic, my aesthetic.
I did a shoot for a car company with Robert Courtney after the “Rock that Photography” conference. One year later I get a call from him again and he says, “You don’t know me, but you shot for me once. That company loved their pictures. There’s something different about your photography.” I started doing more work with Robert, and now I shoot 90-95% of the photography for his company, RCA and Associates.
On capturing her customer’s essence
My client base ranges from high school seniors to corporate events and families. As a portrait photographer, my main goal is to capture the essence of who you are. I want to capture your personality versus just getting a picture, so your image precedes you before you enter any room.
Whether it’s your family or your corporate brand, when someone sees the photo, they should know something about you.
On her entrepreneurial superpower
Despite what’s going on inside, I can come into any situation and look comfortable and sure of what I’m doing. Even with team shoots I am ridiculously nervous. But, I'm very confident in my photography skills. Once I'm in it and going, I'm good as long as I have good music and good vibes. Being able to jump into any situation has been a godsend.
On people versus Google
When a client has a lot of questions I’m not prepared to answer, I’m very comfortable asking “Can I get back to you?” I don’t want to give an answer that will affect them or me! I’m okay doing research and asking for more time.
Research is big. Google is fine, but there are so many opinions— it’s a sea of opinions! Like a cup of coffee, everyone likes it differently. No matter what I'm reading, it's not a definite answer, so I go to people who have my mindset or shoot at the level I do. They have a better idea of who I am and what I do. Google is great for general questions, but not when you want to get specific in your business.
On how she stays motivated
My kids and coffee help keep my momentum going. I like to switch up my coffee. Right now my favorite is the Nutty + Caramel by the Donut Shop. That gets me through. I’ve also been into MUD/WTR Mushroom Blend, a coffee alternative. It’s very interesting, but good!
On getting enough sleep
I’m a single mom so I’m doing it all. I wake up at 5:30 am so I can have at least 45 minutes alone. After I get back from school drop off, I’m answering emails, finishing edits, and responding to website inquiries. I’ll run errands on my way to a shoot.
When shoots go well, I don’t have to stay up so late to edit. But when I do and have to be back up again so early, it’s painful! No one tells you that as an entrepreneur you’re working 24 hours instead of 9-5. It’s difficult, but I love it and wouldn’t change what I do now for anything.