Platinum Member Spotlight: Angelique Johnson Photography
In the first installment of our ConnXus Platinum® Member Spotlight we are featuring Angelique Johnson, of Angelique Johnson Photography (AJP). AJP specializes in senior portrait photography, capturing and celebrating young men and women’s major life milestones as they move on to the next chapter of their lives.
ConnXus: So, how did you get started with AJP?
Angelique Johnson: For me, this second career developed from a hobby that evolved into a passion. My background is actually in information technology (IT), I have a degree from Grambling State University, which I leveraged for 21 and a half years working at Procter & Gamble (P&G). From there, portrait photography became my side hustle. I volunteered to photograph many P&G events all while learning photography on my own and going to photography school full time at night. Once I felt I was ready, I took a leap of faith and accepted a voluntary separation package from P&G to launch my business full time. I officially started in March 2012 and have been pursuing it full time ever since.
ConnXus: What first sparked your interest in photography?
Photography has been a passion since I was a little girl. At first, I didn’t recognize it as a passion – it was just something I liked to do. Since grade school through college I was always the one taking pictures, developing them, and archiving them in albums. When I started working full time at P&G, I still pursued photography as a hobby. Then one day my best friend recognized my talent and convinced me shoot her event. Everyone really seemed to enjoy their pictures. This encouraged me to upgrade my camera and begin teaching myself photography. A few years later, I decided to enroll in an associate degree program in Dayton.
ConnXus: So, you started with shooting events, how has your business evolved to senior portraits?
When I first started as a small business owner I was taking every opportunity I could get, whether they were weddings, newborns, corporate work and events, but I’ve always been a senior photographer. I was a jack of all trades for several years, but it wasn’t until recently I realized I was spreading myself too thin doing everything except what I really wanted to do. I then decided to focus on building and mastering a high school senior portrait program. I love working with younger people. They allow me to push my skills creatively all while having fun with photographing with them.
ConnXus: How was it transitioning from working in the corporate world to starting your own business?
AJ: P&G laid a solid foundation for developing my core set of business skills. Because of P&G I have strong leadership, communication, and project management skills. These skills along with my hunger for success enabled me to easily transition to entrepreneurship after leaving P&G five years ago. Since then I helped launch a photo booth business with a partner of mine. For two years I focused on building that business and took photography projects as they came. At the time, I didn’t have a solid business structure in place for my photography business, so I did many freelance projects while I was focused on building the photo booth business. Once that business took off and stabilized, I started focusing on my senior portrait business and really poured my heart into it. It’s definitely a journey and work in progress as I’m creating branded marketing and packaging materials, improving my website, building a client network, along with all the other aspects of getting this business in place.
ConnXus: Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies and interests?
AJ: In my down time, I’m a huge movie and TV buff. I’m a huge fan of sci-fi, and since my daughter is in school for digital effects we love to watch a lot of Marvel and DC movies. Recently we saw Wonder Woman and the new Spiderman movie and we loved both! Though it’s hard to find free time nowadays, I would love the opportunity to get back into bowling. I played for about 8 years and was a member of a few leagues for a while!
ConnXus: What advice would you give to people trying to succeed in a new industry?
AJ: My personal mantra is “Preparation is the key to success.” The best thing to do is lay out your vision while you’re working and save as much as you can towards that vision. It is critical to have startup funds that you can live on while your business is getting started. Learn as much as you can in the time when you’re not working, and learn as much about the business as you can. As an entrepreneur, you need to know all facets of the business, marketing, accounting, and advertising in order to succeed.