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Meet Samantha Kallal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Kallal.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was always interested in photography. From an early age, I enjoyed playing with my parent’s old Kodak camera with single-use flashcubes, video cameras and disposable cameras. By junior high, I was using multiple disposable cameras a month just taking silly pictures with friends, of pets or anything that caught my eye. For Christmas one year, my Dad and Stepmom bought me my first “real” camera. A Canon Rebel film camera that still sits on a shelf in my studio today. After that, I was shooting everything. I took it to concerts, sporting events and to walk around downtown. Friends had remarked for years that I had a “good eye” for photography and would ask me to take their photos before big events. I shot some Bridal portraits, a few family sessions and something clicked. I realized that I could turn this love I had for photography into my career. After that moment of clarity, I started pursuing turning the hobby into a profession. I spent hours everyday watching tutorials, reading articles, looking at the work of people I admired in the field and trying to decide what area I wanted to focus on. At the time, many of my friends were starting to get married and so weddings felt like the natural field of choice. I spent the next four years shooting weddings on weekends, getting married myself and raising my first child.

During the week, I worked for a photography company shooting school-age children’s portraits. The love for photography turned into a chore. I was not fulfilled or inspired anymore. I took a break from weddings and concentrated on my family as well as shooting family portraits only. I became pregnant with our second child and decided quickly that I was not happy with the path I was on career-wise. I knew I wanted to take newborn pictures of our daughter when she was born so I spent the whole pregnancy learning more about newborn photography. It was a completely different animal than weddings. The lighting, props, SAFETY and posing were all much more than I had expected, but I fell back in love with photography. I loved learning from other newborn photographers, reading and watching tutorials was fun again. I had found my passion for the craft again. Since then, I have spent the last seven years as a newborn and childhood photographer. I grew my business from a small corner of the garage to a full den in our home, and for the last two years, I have been operating out of my beautiful studio space near downtown Belleville. After feeling like I had made a name for myself in photography, I have taken the chance and started an online children’s boutique this last year. Starting a second business has been tricky but I am driven to see them both succeed.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Absolutely not! Finding a way to balance running a business with raising a family is a struggle I think many entrepreneurs face. As a mother, you have this underlying guilt about almost everything you do or don’t do. Feeling like I have let the kids down because some weeks were overly busy for the business and I didn’t have as much time with them has been a huge struggle. I have thankfully had wonderfully supportive people in my corner. My husband has been my biggest supporter and kept my head on straight anytime I felt like giving up. My parents have always been really supportive and encouraging of my career as well. Another major obstacle has been a big move from my hometown in Charlotte, NC to Bellville, Illinois just outside of St. Louis. We made the move in 2017 and I was nervous that starting over with zero clients would be overwhelmingly difficult. I worked hard on social media to get my name out before the move and had built up a small collection of sessions for shortly after we settled in. Rebuilding a customer run business in a new location is a challenge, but I have to say that I was welcomed to the area and found an awesome group of clients here.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in Baby’s First Year photography. Newborn posed studio sessions are about 40% of my business. I am known for florals and colorful baby girl images with lots of beautiful headpieces. My baby boy sessions are also fun and colorful with lots of props. I am known for working with multiples as well. I have photographed several sets of triplets and dozens of twins. I also over milestone sessions for babies and children as well as Cake Smash sessions. Cake Smash sessions take up close to 40% of my business as well. I love being able to customize themed sessions for my clients. I am known for my bright, fun, themed setups for both Newborns as well as Cake Smash Birthday sessions. It is so fun for me to be able to take a theme, color preference or general comment on my questionnaire and create a one of a kind image for my clients that is personal for them and they will cherish.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
When the pandemic hit, I was forced to shut the studio down for several months. During most of that time, I was not able to work at all. I have to be in close contact as I have to touch the baby to soothe and pose them into the positions. I struggled to adjust to going from very busy to not working at all and helping two kids with virtual school. From it, I have new safety and health protocols that will remain in place permanently. I love adding the peace of mind that I am less likely to pass any germs to the babies by wearing my mask and keeping everything sanitized in addition to being vaccinated. On a personal level, the pandemic forced me to shift my focus from running a business to just being a wife and mom for awhile. It was a good reset for me and helped me to remember that all things need balance in life.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Daniel Kallal Sugarfoot Photography

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