NAPAVINE — When Heidi Marshall started her photography business in 2009, it was a destination she never saw herself being at after going to college for architecture.
Marshall worked for two architect firms after graduating college, eventually quitting her career after she started having kids. She began working from home, operating a couple online businesses. It was then where she realized she needed to learn how to take quality photos to enhance the products she sold online. With no formal training, she began watching tutorials and reading books to learn the ins and outs of a camera and lens.
“Lots of hands-on stuff is how I got started with it,” Marshall said.
She began practicing by taking photos of her kids, and soon her friends began asking her to take photos of their kids as well. From there, it snowballed and eventually turned into a business.
She had three young kids at the time and soon found out she was pregnant with her fourth son immediately after starting the business. She worked part-time for a while, getting the hang of being her own boss.
“I just remember having fun with it and it was a bonus that people were paying me,” Marshall said.
The bulk of Marshall’s business, located on East Washington Street in Napavine, has come from high school senior photos, family portraits and business-people headshots. She even does newborn-baby photos and product photography for a few businesses. She helps small businesses create better product photos and profile pictures to enhance their online presence.
“Working with businesses is something I’ve come to enjoy,” Marshall said. “I like helping other businesses become successful through the photos they use to represent their companies and themselves.”
There was never a single point in time where it felt like everything clicked for Marshall with her photography. It’s been an ever-evolving progression for her, with always more room to learn and improve.
“It’s one of those things where it’s an art form and I take it very personally,” Marshall said. “I over-analyze and I’m super critical of my own work. I always want people to love their photos. I don’t know that I ever reached a point where I feel 100 percent confident that I’ve got this.”
Up until this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Marshall was doing all the sports and dance team photos for Napavine High School, and a few projects for Boistfort Elementary School.
Back in March, she was on track to have her biggest year ever. Her schedule was jam-packed full, she had contracts with the state of Washington and sports and dances lined up. Then COVID-19 hit and everything was canceled.
“I went from a super-full schedule to nothing,” Marshall said.
The lack of clients stayed dry for several months, prompting Marshall to get creative as she set up front-porch sessions with neighbors to stay socially-distanced. She began taking online photography classes to improve her skill set for when everything went back to normal.
Marshall also ended up getting her real estate license as a backup plan in case her photography business never fully picks up again. She’s currently working as a buyer’s agent under Leslie Myers with Realty World in Chehalis.
“It’s been kind of a fun thing to mix in because I feel like it’s the same type of work where it’s different all the time, I don’t have a set schedule and I work around clients and their schedules,” Marshall said. “It works really well doing the two side by side.”
The most gratifying aspect of her photography job, and one of the reasons she’s stayed with it so long, is that she is able to help people look their best, even those who are self-conscious about their image.
“If you’ve never had a good photograph taken of you, then you just think you look like all the terrible pictures you’ve seen of yourself,” Marshall said. “People, in general, have a very skewed view of themselves. When we look in the mirror, we see ourselves differently than other people do. I love helping people see themselves more how others do.
“I love it when seniors see their pictures. They’re used to having just snapshots taken or selfies. When you have great light, great posing and great angles, it can kind of bring out people’s best features. That’s the thing I love the most; helping people look their best so they can see themselves looking awesome.”
More Information on Heidi Marshall Photography
Owner: Heidi Marshall
Location: 111 E. Washington St., Napavine
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