Couple creates photography business

Ashanka Kumari

When University of Alabama sophomore Natalee Briscoe’s mother first bought her a Digital SLR camera three years ago, Briscoe said she thought of it as a new way to take pictures.

As she and John Pounders, her boyfriend and a freshman majoring in economics and marketing, began playing around with the camera, they realized that photography was their new passion.

“We set up the website and received a Facebook message immediately after from two friends who wanted us to take their engagement and wedding pictures,” Briscoe said. “It blossomed from there and took off really fast.”On Feb. 4, 2012, Briscoe and Pounders launched The Classic Photography Company after receiving positive feedback on pictures they had posted on Facebook. Shortly after, they booked their first client.

At first, the idea of their own photography company was not something they wholly agreed on, Briscoe said.

“I thought it was going to be a disaster in the beginning because we were not on the same wavelength and fought because we had totally different ideas,” Briscoe said. “One night we had to just sit down and decide our roles. Now I love working with him all the time because we know exactly what our roles are in the company, and it’s a breeze. John does most of the business part and I, with my knowledge as a public relations major, handle the communications aspect.”

Pounders said that because they do not have a photography background, they have been taking the time to read photography books and enrolled in an online photography program through the New York Institute.

“Most people are going to be skeptical because we are not studio art or photography majors, but I think studying business is more important because you have to channel your inner creativity and [you] can’t be taught creativity in school,” Pounders said.

Briscoe and Pounders said they bring contrasting perspectives in style, color and tone to produce an intrinsically raw photograph that speaks for itself. As University of Alabama students, they offer a fresh portfolio that features portraits, natural settings and real-life photographs.

Pounders said he tends to direct and pose his clients more while Briscoe establishes a comfortable realm in which she is able to capture their clients in more natural moments.

“I feel that I can capture the chemistry well while John gets more of the landscape, wide angle looks,” Briscoe said.

The Classic Photography Company bills itself to be “Naturally Sophisticated,” a motto that developed after Pounders first began editing pictures he and Briscoe took before the company’s initiation.

“We shot some [pictures] and edited them, and I looked at them and said ‘That’s classic looking,’” Pounders said. “Our style is something that doesn’t trend. It’s going to look good in 30 years, and it would have looked good 30 years ago. It’s a timeless style.”

Kaylene Beal, The Classic Photography Company’s first client, recently had her engagement pictures taken and has contracted the couple for her wedding.

“Their style, in a word, is stunning,” Beal said. “I think their best quality is their versatility; both photographers know their way around a camera and have a great eye. Between the two of them, they capture amazing moments, both posed and candid.”

Archie Diaz, her fiancé, said Briscoe and Pounders are very professional and did a good job explaining what to expect before their photography sessions.

“They followed through on all of their plans and promises and have been very helpful,” Diaz said. “After doing an extensive comparison around the Tuscaloosa area, we found their prices to be very fair, especially considering the great results.”

Including prints and portrait sessions, wedding packages start at $690, Pounders said.

After only being on the market for a little more than a month, The Classic Photography Company has booked eight clients including three weddings, Pounders said.

“We have found that our best market is in portraits and weddings,” Pounders said. “All of a sudden we are booked for next year because our business is currently based on referrals.”

According to Pounders, editing is one the most important parts of the process.

“We have to get a shot across to be buyable through the way we edit,” Pounders said. “A shot can be edited one way and fit one style, and edited another to fit a completely different clientele. It’s all about editing, though composition is still important.”

Choosing which pictures to purchase was difficult because of the variety the company offered, Beal said.

“Their editing style is very beautiful. Some of my photos were in a 1960s film style, where some were very modern and overexposed, while others featured naturally bright colors or were old-fashioned and in black and white,” Beal said. “Just hours after we sat for our engagement session, John and Natalee had already edited dozens of photos, they are very professional, flexible and prepared.”

Building a positive reputation is a major key to being successful in any kind of business, Briscoe said.

“We are genuine people and that’s how we live our lives,” Briscoe said. “We respect people and we have found that it doesn’t really matter what we think. The client is the one who is going to ultimately pay for our product.”

When a client books a session with the company, the first thing Briscoe and Pounders do is set up an appointment to meet with the client in person or via Skype to have lunch or coffee and just talk, Pounders said.

“We go out and get to know their personality a little to determine what style a client would like, whether it is more artistic or traditional,” Pounders said. “A photography session would be set up for within a week after this initial meeting, and after we got the images edited and back to you, we send them off to be printed. The process takes about a month on our part, though it really depends on what a client wants from our company.”

Although Briscoe and Pounders live and study in Tuscaloosa, they have a studio space in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and said they are willing to travel to any venue in the Tuscaloosa, Lauderdale or Colbert County areas for no additional fee.