Celebrating 10 Years of Julie Napear Photography!

Hey JNP friends and fans! This year marks ten years of business for Julie Napear Photography. TEN YEARS! A decade! This is kind of crazy to me, since that’s almost all of my adult life. In that time, I’ve gone from just a few weekends of photography annually to my current count of over 300 weddings, hundreds of portrait sessions, and a whole lot of great friends. New JNP team member Erin helped me reflect on my decade of business, so I’m turning the rest of this post over to her! :) -Julie

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Wow – 2015 marks Julie Napear Photography’s 10th year of business! As one of Julie’s former brides I wanted to hear more about her journey so far. Interviewing a busy wedding photographer during peak wedding season is no small feat so we kept it to ten quick questions! It was my honor to chat with her about business, weddings and life. :)

How did Julie Napear Photography come come to be?

“I graduated college at 21 and had various jobs over the years including teaching video, photography and math. I worked at a production company doing video editing and worked at a small TV station. While I was teaching I had some extra time and signed up for a photography class at Northern Virginia Community College. It was the first time I had studied photography since I was 17 or 18 years old, and that was when  I bought my first digital camera.”

“In 2005, after meeting my husband, I was asked to take pictures of a family members at-home reception after a destination wedding. The pictures turned out really good – I surprised myself and everyone else!”

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“I didn’t think it would ever become a career, I was just hoping for a side job that would support my photography hobby. But friends told friends who told their friends and word really spread.”

“In 2007 I did my first bridal show and I booked 40 weddings for that year. It has been the same pace of 30-40 weddings a year since then. I feel very lucky to have had it happen the way it has happened.”

How has your business grown in the past 10 years? How have you grown personally?

“JNP has grown in so many ways! I have learned how important it is to invest in your business. Since I first started I have added my logo, my website, my blog, and an office space. The amount of equipment I own has exploded. I went from just me with one bag to two suitcases, lights, lightstands and an assistant!”

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“I personally have become a better photographer. I knew the basics back then, but I didn’t have the posing skills for example, that I have honed over the years. My knowledge plus my collection of equipment means I’m in a much better position now to change plans and get great photos no matter what. I can shoot beautiful pictures during the golden hour outside, but also in a dark reception hall.”

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Why weddings?

“I do commercial and portrait work, and dabble in food photography, but I really love weddings. There is a lot of pressure in wedding photography and I thrive on it. It’s also nice to be with people on such a happy day of their lives. Weddings are a cool way to connect with people and I have become friends with many of my brides.”

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What do you remember most about the weddings you shoot?

“It is really different things for different weddings! Sometimes it is the super-in-love couples, and sometimes it’s having fun dancing at the reception with my camera!”

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What is your best piece of advice for brides?

“I have two! 1. Enjoy your day! Get everything you can done before the big day and then let everything else go. 2.  Hire professionals and let them do their job! Keep this in mind when creating your wedding budget – decide what is most important to you so you can hire those professionals.”

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What have been some of your biggest successes?

“My greatest success has been the friends I have made through this business. Not just my brides, but also other vendors.”

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What about failure?

“I think work/life balance is really tough. Especially with my daughter Lorelei and all of the attention she needs. I don’t think my photography has suffered since becoming a parent, but maintaining that balance is hard!”

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What is your advice for aspiring photographers just starting out?

“I see upcoming photographers making this one mistake – not having the confidence to charge what they are worth. I really undershot my value in the beginning.”

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Where would you be today if you didn’t have JNP?

“I have no idea where life would have brought me at this point! I was a video major in college but I didn’t want to move to New York or LA. Maybe I would be directing live T.V. My brides know I’m definitely not afraid to give direction! :) Or a teacher. I enjoy teaching and I love math.”

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What is the plan for the next 10 years?

“I would love to make video a bigger part of Julie Napear Photography. I would love to travel more with my photography. I love destination weddings, even if it is just a destination for me! :) I have been to England, Ireland, New York, Colorado, Tennessee, the West Coast of Florida, and Cancun for shoots to name a few places. One of my ultimate goals is to shoot wedding parties and families in front of recognizable landmarks around the world. I already have the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben!”

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“I want to learn to balance life and work a little more and continue being happy with my job. Over the last ten years I have shot somewhere over 300 weddings. I am truly honored and flattered to have been a part of all of them. I want to continue doing what I’m doing, doing it well, and making my couples happy.”

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In case you missed it, check out the pictures from Julie’s first full wedding shoot.

Happy Anniversary Julie & JNP! :) Julie has asked me to thank everyone who has been there over the years, and can’t wait to continue to work with you in the future! 

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Happy 10th Anniversary Steph & Juan!

We are lifting glasses of bubbly at the JNP office this month to celebrate the first full wedding I ever shot… A DECADE AGO!! Steph and Juan got married way back in November of 2005, and they took a chance on unknown little me.  Cheers to the happy couple, and THANK YOU so much for giving me the opportunity that began what has become an amazing ride.

I know I’ve learned a LOT in the meantime, and would do things differently were I to shoot this wedding in Nov. 2015, but looking back, I’m still pretty proud of how my first attempt went! I asked my former bride and new JNP team member Erin to interview Stephanie:

 

Steph and Juan met at work and dated for three and a half years before getting engaged. Engaged for a little over a year, they were in no rush to start wedding planning. Eventually, in July of 2005 Steph realized, “if we want to get married this year, we better get cracking!”

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Juan was an involved groom and took on the job of finding a photographer. He posted an ad on Craigslist and Julie was one of the photographers to answer. Juan and Steph met with Julie and felt comfortable right away. Steph says, “She was really friendly, she had a good portfolio, she was professional. We felt like we clicked with her and she put us at ease.”

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Steph and Juan were married on November 5th, 2005, at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. “We got married in a gazebo in a wooded area. We were incredibly fortunate to have a such a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding in November in Virginia. It was sunny, clear and in the seventies. The leaves were beautiful.”

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“The best moment of our wedding day was just the overall feeling; it’s hard to articulate. The weather was perfect, the wedding itself was low-key. I’m a planner and I tend to be anxious, but I knew I had people in place like Julie so I could let go and relax.”

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Juan summed it up in one word: “magical.”

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Ten years later, they are no longer co-workers but Steph still works for the same company. “I have wedding photos up in my cubicle that I have never taken down! I love them so much. I get compliments on them all the time.”

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“Five years ago, my grandmother passed away and I was going through photos of the wedding. There were some photos that really captured my grandma’s personality. Especially from the brunch we had the day before the wedding, which Julie also shot. My grandma was such a sweet and loving person. Julie had taken some great candid shots of my her with my younger cousins. It really took me right back to that moment in time and how special it was.”

“I googled Julie, who I hadn’t talked to in years, because I wanted to thank her. I will treasure these photos forever.”
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Steph and Juan love to travel and try to take one big trip a year. The couple celebrated their 10th anniversary a little early, with a whirlwind trip to Italy in September. Happy anniversary you two!

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