As told to brittany cremer l photo by larry mayer
jana graham photography As told to brenda maas l photo by larry mayer
Passion to profession
As Vice President for Enrollment Services at Rocky, it is my responsibility to provide leadership for all phases of new student recruitment and continuing student retention. I enjoy making a difference in the lives of students, and every day brings a new challenge and success story.
A supportive husband and great childcare for our two children, A.C. (2 ½) and Bella (7 months) helps to minimize the difficulty of balancing my work and home life. But getting out of the house some mornings can be challenging when my son looks at me and asks ‘You don’t have to go to work today, do you, Mom?’
I grew up in L.A., near the ocean and wanted to be a marine biologist. But that didn’t work out, and I earned a degree in business. Photography started as my hobby.
Words of wisdom
I was born and raised in Illinois, where my entire family still lives. On any given day, you could walk into my aunt’s home and find a room full of crazy Italians laughing and eating pasta. While making the decision to live in Montana was one of the best decisions I have ever made, it was difficult knowing that I couldn’t just jump in my car and be with my family in minutes.
I’d tell other young women considering a career in my field to work hard. If you see a learning opportunity, take it, and challenge your thoughts every day.
vice president for enrollment services rocky mountain college
Real life role model My father has had the biggest influence in my life. He is loving, caring, selfless, devoted to his family, displays good moral values and has taught me important life lessons. He is the hardest working person I’ve ever met.
A youthful heart If I could be anyone for a day, I’d be my son. I’d love to be in his head at 1:30 a.m. when he should be sleeping but is roaming the house quietly in an effort to not wake Mom or Dad. The good life In my free time, I love nothing more than being at home with my husband and kids, cooking a fabulous meal, and watching A.C. run around the house dancing to music while Bella watches with great excitement for the day she can join him.
Worth a thousand words Shortly after I was married, but before having children, my father passed away. I realized that I had very few pictures of him. The core of what I do is based on that—wanting families to have photos of their loved ones that really show who they are.
It’s personal I love working with all different types of people. I shoot so many “genres”—newborns, babies, families, graduating seniors, weddings—that I get close to my clients. They often become my friends. I get to know them and it’s that emotion that makes the photography work.
Teamwork My husband is probably the best husband in the whole world. Although he has a demanding job of his own, he does all the books and accounting for my business. Basically, he picks up where I leave off—laundry, dishes and taking care of our three kids—we are a total team.
Lessons learned I used to be a complete type-A freak,
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but I learned an important lesson with each one of my babies—I was on complete bedrest for three month with each pregnancy. There was no choice. I learned to be OK with having no control, with things not being done perfectly. At work I channel that need into what I produce and let it go at home.
Side bonus Being an entrepreneur has given me the flexibility to be with my kids and just enjoy them. I work when they are at school and then again when they go to bed. Plus, I have so much fun on our shoots—they are like big play dates—we really enjoy the moment. I know how important these pictures are. To get who that person is, to get the real emotion, the photographer has to be engaged.
Reality check I get assignments from the families of someone who has a terminal illness. I also volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a national organization that helps families whose baby has died. These experiences keep things in perspective for me—it reminds me of what is really important.
Before jumping in Take your time and hone your craft, get really good at it, really study before starting your business because capturing family moments, the essence of who someone is, is a big responsibility. Then enjoy it.
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