Steal This Job

Snap Shot: Photographer

Steal This Job
Jatawny Muckelvene (above left) is a self-employed photograper based in the Washington, D.C. area. (Katherine Gaines)

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Chris Mincher
Express
Friday, January 13, 2006; 1:03 PM

JATAWNY MUCKELVENE, 26

JOB: Self-employed photographer (jatawnyvisionmemories.com)

SALARY: About $100 an hour, plus extra for prints

EDUCATION: Studied at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, D.C.

WHAT SHE DOES: After her son Kardan was born nine months ago, Muckelvene switched from shooting fashion to photographing kids and families. And no, that didn't mean swapping one breed of tantrum-thrower for another. "A fashion model is more difficult to work with than a child," said Muckelvene, who starts every shoot "by just being around" her subjects, until pretty soon they're "running around like normal." She takes a documentary approach to her work, shooting on location rather than in a studio. So even if a kid is grumpy, that's OK: "There's no 'stand here,' no posing, no awkwardness," she said. "Whether the kids are pouting or laughing -- that's the moment I'm looking to capture." Two weeks after a session, she shows the customers a proof list and they choose their photos; then she does touch-ups and corrects the colors until "everything is perfect."

WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB? Probably -- it's a fun job. But would your clients want you? "People are really picky and they want the best. Nobody wants a snapshot," she said. "People get into photography for all kinds of reasons: They think they'll meet women, or they want to start up their own business, or they want to make their own hours ... but if you're not careful, you'll ruin someone's memories."

HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: Practice. Time spent experimenting with a camera is more valuable than any class or book, said Muckelvene. How fast you learn, though, will depend a lot on whether it clicks. "You know how there are those musicians who take an instrument with no school, they just pick it up and play it? Photography is a lot like that," she said. If you want to go solo, it costs a lot to get a business started -- up to $15,000, she estimated.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Professional Photographers of America (ppa.com), the Virginia Professional Photographers Association and the American Society of Picture Professionals.

This article originially appeared in the Express on August 14, 2005.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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