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Life & Work with Chris Malacarne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Malacarne.

Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
When did it all start? I often ask myself this very question! My first connection with photography was a family friend who had an interest in photography when I was in High school. I would borrow his camera from time to time to take pictures of different things during the weekend while we were boating and water skiing. What really started my passion was when I visited my best friend in college at SIUC. He was majoring in Radio and Television production and was in intro to photography 101. I viewed some of his black and white images he had just printed and thought they were absolutely amazing! I also though (in the spirit of competition) I can do better! What is a friendship without some competition? Not only did he promote my interest that day but he still does to this day!

From there, I enrolled in Junior college to work towards attending SIUC Photography program. I ripped through JC and was at SIUC in a year in a half! There I worked straight through nearly every still photo class they offered over the next two years (including all the summer classes I could take).

I graduated in 2000 and started working in Saint Louis at Schiller’s Camera and video in order to make connections in the Commercial world. Three months later, I left Schiller’s to Freelance. One year later, I was hired by Meoli (Me-O-le) Studio where I spent my next 11 years working with commercial clients and various size campaigns. Things fell short there around 2013 and I started on my own. Starting from scratch can be a challenge, and it was. I stayed the course and built a new portfolio while building relationships with clients and potential clients. I would offer to create imagery for small business (at a very affordable price) and allow them to watch the response as their image improved. Many of these have become long-term clients.

In 2017 my wife (Shaney) joined the team. Shaney is an AMAZING partner and world of knowledge with a background starting in Fashion Merchandising design (which she studied in college at SIUC) and leading to a 12 years career in Restaurant Management and menu development. The addition of her talents and love for food styling to CMP has boosted our dynamic and established our direction in image-making.

Today, we (Chris Malacarne Photography) is housed in the SPOT CONTENT STUDIO building in South City, STL. Our client list has grown to include multiple agencies. Our facility is amazing and growing quarterly as we continue to focus on small start-up companies in need of high-end imagery. Oh yeah! Spot is owned and operated by my best friend mentioned earlier. Spot and CMP collaborate on projects of all sizes for clients and agencies across the land.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road is not always paved with a smooth surface. I believe there are good challenges and bad ones. The good Ines are the best to speak of. When I went into business for myself, I was working out of my living room! Fortunately, we have an open floor plan so there was still room to actually “live” in the area as well. The first “good” struggle was when I landed a client that produced large metal Chimney caps. I had to find a studio to work out of, figure out how to afford it, insure it and keep the doors open! The big struggle here was managing the stress with starting a business and then expanding into a larger space!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
The creative avenue of photography is what drives my passion. Light is a beautiful thing, being able to understand how it can influence others and capturing that to tell a story or show off a product is an amazing thing to be able to do everyday.

As CMP is growing, we are starting to specialize in Food and Product imagery exclusively. Creating dynamic content for a larger audience has been in our sights for the past year. The pandemic hit us pretty hard as many companies slowed production and R & D.

What I am most proud of and what I believe sets us apart from others is our focus on making our clients our friends. Verbal communication is an important part of building a relationship where the goal is to build a visual message. Spending quality preproduction time with clients and their products is a big part for us to assure we deliver the concept they need to capture their audience. If our clients do well with images we create for them, they will be back!

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Image Credits

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  1. Dena Hensel

    July 1, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Inspiring article! Love seeing brave people in our community following their dreams!
    Thanks, Voyage STL!
    Keep thriving, Chris Malacarne Team!

    • Chris

      September 12, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you Dena! Great support from friends and family make it all possible!

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