July 2023 Entrepreneurship
E d d i a J a n e W a t t s
Photographer, Model, and Author
Hello Eddia! When did you first become interested in photography?
Well, that's a multifaceted question. For me, it starts with me being a kid, and growing up with an artistic family. My grandmother would have us do art classes after school. She would sit us down and teach us how to draw the human body. It would be so much fun and an intriguing experience. Those art sessions with my grandmother turned into, you know, me getting my first computer and not being able to afford internet so all I could do was use Microsoft Paint, which then turned into me growing up and binge watching America's Next Top Model and appreciating the artwork of the photoshoots they would create. I was wishing that I was those girls. I hoped that one day when I turned 18 that the show would still exist, and I would be able to be on it. As time went on, I transformed into becoming the extremely tall and confident woman that I am today. I stand proudly barefoot at six foot two. Around the age of 13, I decided to use the power of the internet to get myself into a modeling school and simultaneously I began my journey into pageants.
From the years 2015 through 2019, I was an active model. I would ask many photographers that I worked with about my best angles, as well as take a look at their setup and equipment. Growing up, I kind of forced myself to learn how to have a photographic memory. I would remember names of brands, names of cameras, and then it got to the point where I would start to see the same photographers. I got comfortable asking them questions such as, “What kind of setup are you using?” At the same time, there was a graphic design class that I'd taken in high school. That class helped me to begin learning my retouching skills.
As the time passed by, I did a couple of workshops with the Big Brothers Big Sisters with a Kodak film camera. I had the chance to have those little film squares be showcased at an art show. That happened when I was 15 years old and is still showcased to this day on YouTube. Having all of these little moments in life, and realizing that as I was growing up, I felt comfortable in my art. I felt like my absolute best, both in front of and behind the camera. Growing up, I always considered myself to be extremely creative. I did everything from painting, drawing, and writing books. My room is filled with every single musical instrument ranging from violins to guitars. I've done everything creative. I think photography is one of the best ways I embrace my eye for beauty on a physical plane. Also, I like to do it in a way that I can reach out and help my community as well.
What inspired you to initially start Eddia Jane Photography?
What actually ended up happening was the pandemic was taking place. You would think the pandemic would be the worst time to embark on a business like photography. Sometimes, I do get a little bit of impostor syndrome. I wonder what would have happened if I picked up my camera earlier than the pandemic. By the grace of God, my entire family was given stimulus checks. Also, by the grace of God, my mother, sister, and I are an amazingly tight knit trio. We give back to each other as much as we can afford to. On top of that, I had joined the yearbook club in high school. I was in the tech club before the yearbook club. I was behind the camera. I remember I was photographing a high school event. At that time, I came home and I told my mom how excited I was that I took these awesome pictures. My mom kept those memories of me locked away. Her keeping those memories allowed for her to ensure that they would come to fruition by 2020. My mom knew that I had a digital Canon camera on my Amazon wish list for years. For my birthday that year, in 2020, my mother and sister had gotten their stimulus checks at the same time. They pitched in together to get me my first digital camera.
The second I was handed that box I ripped open the wrapping paper. I was like, “Okay, I'm opening up a business”. Of course, I didn't open the business right away, I let people know that I was studying my craft. I started photography with my friends. I asked all of my friends to please let me photograph them. I was on my knees essentially begging all my friends, ‘Please, please, please, let me take your pictures’. A lot of friends didn't want me to take their pictures. There were a handful that did allow me that privilege. I'm still very grateful because everyone has to start somewhere. If it wasn't for those first free photography shoots, then I wouldn't have ever known how to start to handle a camera professionally.
Of course, I feel some people will say you can't just pick up your camera one day and call yourself a professional photographer. I didn't want to do that. At first, I refrain from calling myself a professional. For a while, I called myself a student photographer because I was still in school. Having recently graduated I had more than three years of professional photography under my belt--seven years of photography and retouching as a hobby--, I have generated over six figures worth of income for both my own studio as well as for another studio. I have worked with over 200 clients in the past year. I think it's safe to say that I am a professional photographer at this point. It's in those moments, like even just now quoting it, I feel a bit braggadocious. However, the facts are the facts. I think it's in these reflective moments I have to be proud of my accomplishments.
How would you describe your photography style?
That's a great question. I would define my photography style as a mix of clean, high end, beautiful headshots, and portrait headshots. I have ideas for where I would like to go further creatively, but as of right now, I tend to focus more on the pageant spaces. The pageant space is where most of my passion flows.
Why did you decide to focus on fashion and pageant photography?
The reason why I think I kept with pageants, high end, and commercial photography is because that is what I grew up with. As a small business owner, I need this kind of photography. I can't take a picture of a dog because the dog is not going to pay me directly. Animal photography exists, but for now I love working with human subjects. To expand on the question why I don't work with other genres, it's just trial and error. I just left a company where babies were being delivered the day before, or a mom just gave birth. A mom came in, I took her photos, and then she gave birth that same night. I've had 60 year old women do boudoir photoshoots. I've had men come in for business headshots 30 minutes later. I've done all different types of photoshoots for pets and animals. Nothing makes me happier than being in the middle of the pageant shoot. I wish I could explain it more. It's something that just brings a little twinkle to my heart.
Can you describe the different types of photography packages you offer?
Right now, I offer my photography in three packages. I tried to do everything by my motto. Since day one, I always wanted to offer luxury beauty photography at the lowest price possible.
Growing up modeling as a teenager, I worked at a vintage fashion store. I made $7.50 an hour for two days of work. That means I brought in approximately $70 a week. I couldn't afford any photographer that was $1,200. That would have essentially taken almost a year's worth of savings. I wanted to view it from the perspective of the 16 year old girl who aspires to become a model. She desperately needs someone on her team to work with her.
I don't just view myself as just a photographer. All of my clients who come back to me become more than clients. They become friends, and I become a coach for some clients. They ask me questions about the industry, whether that be modeling or a project. The relationships that I form over time mean a lot to me. To get back to your question, I start with the basic photoshoot package. This is my lowest package price, unless I'm offering a sale. I'm always offering a special, whether it be for a holiday or a special occasion. The Basic Photoshoot Package starts at one hour and thirty minutes. This includes: two outfits and seven edited photos. For the indoor setup, it would be $275. The next package is called A Bit of Eddia Jane Experience. This is a two hour photoshoot with four outfits. You would get back 10 edited photos. Again, it's indoors for $350. The final package is called The Whole Eddia Jane Shebang. This is a three hour package where you get up to six outfits and 15 edited photos. This would be $475 with this package. You get all of the unedited photos with the package.
Again, I try to keep everything as minimal as possible, especially because I do a lot on my end to save as much money as possible. You'll see my setups and how I travel on my Tik Tok page. I do crazy things like taking trains to Brooklyn and lugging paper backdrops on my back home to Jersey or Delaware to be able to save money instead of buying $150 paper rolls online. I travel by car to you so that way, there's no overhead for me on rent for a studio. For now of course! There are plans to upscale in the future. For now, I consider myself to be a traveling beauty, fashion and pageant photographer. That's everything that you would get with those three packages. Soon, I will be offering hair and makeup services. These will be additional fees.
How can future clients book a photography session with you?
Future clients can book by sending me an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging me through Instagram @eddiajanephoto. My response time is normally no more than 24 hours!
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as a photographer?
I think expanding my craft under limited resources. That's the main challenge I've had to overcome. Recently, I went from switching continuous lighting to strobe lighting. This switch has definitely increased the price of what I have to offer. I'm trying to price myself accordingly, while also trying to increase my equipment. I can only do so much traveling. I do have fears and anxiety. I travel with so much equipment. You never know what could happen. Not to speak ill of myself, but there's a lot of concerns that go into this much traveling for me but the thrill, excitement of creating new art and meeting new people overcomes the fear and anxiety.
Can you leave our readers with one photography tip that can help them create better photos and selfies?
Here's the thing, I hate selfies. There’s a difference to me between a selfie with a cellular device and a self-portrait with a camera. I will say that lighting is key. I see many people make the common mistake of not thinking about lighting before they take a photo, especially given today's modern cell phones. They are made for direct sunlight. Cell phones are the most common camera that people have access to. Just make sure that you're paying attention to the lighting. If you are the subject, then confidence is key. It's all behind the eyes.
What are some words of advice you can give to future photographers who want to start their own photography company?
Do as much research as you can to find your own style and voice. It took me many years of trial and error. Looking up to certain people, working with certain mentors, and realizing how I wanted to do business. At the end of the day, photography is storytelling. It's the visual art of storytelling. We all have a voice in it. You need to find a way to express and individualize your voice through this medium that we call photography.
"At the end of the day, photography is storytelling. It's the visual art of storytelling. We all have a voice in it. You need to find a way to express and individualize your voice through this medium that we call photography".
Are there any future projects you are working on now?
Recently, I did a 600 mile trip. Actually, I turned this trip into a Tik Tok vlog for those to see the behind the scenes. The photos from the trip came out amazing. The trip was for an upcoming magazine cover. Those photos came out last month as well as a huge billboard in the worlds crossroads of Time’s Square with my name and work on it!. I plan on doing more self-portraits throughout the summer. Right now, I'm running in the tri-state area, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. I kind of call it the quad state because I also serve New York. I have a home base in Delaware and New Jersey. As long as you're within an hour and thirty minutes of either location, I can service you.
On top of that, I want to be able to create more beautiful beach photography for the rest of the summer. I have a beach special that I'm running: if you are within the Monmouth County area of New Jersey, then the price is $155 for two outfits. Take advantage while golden hours are happening! That's something that you could do that's really cool. Hopefully, I'll be able to build enough clientele to open a studio soon. Also, I will be publishing more novels. As well, I will be finishing my bachelor's degree in photography. I'm really excited for my future!
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
I love dancing. I was a dancer as a kid. My mom got me through dance classes by herself and with some community help as well. I did ballet and hip-hop as a kid from the ages of eight through ten. It really impacted me a lot and I've never given it up. As a teenager, I racked up 300+ hours on various dance games like Just Dance and Michael Jackson Experience. It was the best way to try to stay in touch with my body rhythmically while I focused monetarily on pageants. I have been auditioning for the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders for multiple years. I went to audition three times. I just love to dance. The way that I find having my body in motion is a way to let out a lot of emotion. Rather that be joy, anger, or confidence. Dance is one of my favorite hobbies.
Recently, I have begun to explore singing as well. I have dabbled in choir classes and singing classes throughout my life and I love to exhaust all creative avenues. Maybe one day soon I’ll start to release covers through social media, you never know!
I like hiking and being in nature. It’s a breath of fresh air, no pun intended. There's a saying that I love to say that I came up with, “We humans are nothing more than just plants, right? We just need water, sun and oxygen”. At least that's what I feel like! Of course, we need actual food. At our core, I feel water and sun can help to elevate our mood. Hiking is something that's important to me as well. These are three hobbies that help keep the creative juices flowing for sure.
"A PHOENIX RISES”
A VISUAL STORY
BY:EDDIA JANE WATTS
This story of the shoot for the cover of LDL Magazine tells the journey of embracing my artistry as told through the lens of the narrator you see on the cover, me--how I would like to be mainly perceived, in the airy light background of the green, which is reminiscent of a garden, mixed in with my light classic colors of white and yellow. A warm sight to behold indeed. But when you look deeper throughout the set, you'll find there are many sides to me. Starting with the classic and vintage nod to my beginnings as a child wanting to play with vintage cameras and wanting to be like Marilyn Monroe or Jackie O (who actually met Jack as the famous ‘camera girl’ working as a journalist in the 50’s). Hence why you see the classic Tiffany blue backdrop, mixed with the luscious Jovani coral gown and the tiny Kodak camera--a tribute to my first art exhibit through Big Brothers Big Sister when I was 15 that I shot entirely using a Kodak camera. Next, we transition my journey with beauty pageants and accumulating all of the titles I have worked diligently for.
The enhanced drama in the makeup and the posing with my crowns signifies my underlying battle with having to come to terms with what I’ve sacrificed emotionally, mentally, physically and more just to be able to pose with these crowns. It makes me wonder, what truly is the end goal? The end goal for me is seen at the end, in the culmination of embracing both my awkward, shy, emo, creative, secret rock chick out who wants to just live life and create fun photos for the masses to enjoy while also embracing the beauty of being a beauty queen. More than just some pretty face. Hence, why the crown you see here is a king's crown and not a traditional pageant one and even more so why it’s off to the side, as an act of rebellion. I am queen in my own right, and through this visual journey you’ll see that transformation take off. I hope you enjoy!
Cover Photo Credits:
Photographer: Eddia Jane Watts of Eddia Jane photography
Main Model: Eddia Jane Watts
Hair & Makeup on Main Model: Eddia Jane Watts
Stylist: Eddia Jane Watts
B e a d e d B l i s s B o u t i q u e
What inspired you to start your bracelet company?
My son Malik inspired me to start a business. A few months ago, Malik started his t-shirt and hoodie business. Also, not being able to work a traditional 9 to 5 job due to my kids' extra curricular activities.
You have a beautiful company name? What does "Beaded Bliss Boutique" represent?
It represents that a simple accessory can make you feel glamorous.
How do you create the names for your bracelets?
Usually, I create the bracelet first. I think about how the bracelet would be best worn. Next, I create a name.
If you could pair your favorite bracelet with an outfit, then what would your wardrobe look like?
I would say my black girl magic bracelet, with a black dress and strappy heels.
Have you been able to attend any events or pop-up shops?
Yes, I attended my first pop-up shop this past Mother's Day in Hampton, Virginia.
Can you describe the process of what it looks like to make one bracelet?
Usually, I measure the cord. I figure out what color beads and charms I want to use. I always use my bead board to help keep me organized.
Are there any challenges you've had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
Yes, I would say being consistent on social media posts and engagement.
What are some words of advice you can give to future CEOs who want to start an accessories company?
Go for it! Network and take risks.
"Go for it! Network and take risks".
Outside of your business, what are some other hobbies that you enjoy?
I like to spend time with my family, and watch my kids play football for Highland Springs High School.Follow At:
Facebook: Beaded Bliss Boutique