HHS student launches photography business

This photo of Jessi Dalke serves as a photographic “self-portrait,” and is an example of her professional skills. “I think it’s just hard advertising myself,” she said.Jessi Dalke, a freshman at Hillsboro High School, started a business in photography after encouragement from family, friends and her teacher, Nathan Hiebert.

“I’m not sure if I would have started my own photography business if it wasn’t for the entrepreneurship class I’m taking,” Dalke said.

In the fall, she said she had the choice of taking busi­ness entrepreneurship or engineering.

Dalke said she chose the business class, which she said she believes was the best decision.

“I heard of other students taking Mr. Hiebert’s class, but I really didn’t know that much about it,” she said.

“It’s a one-year class, and in the first half, everyone has to come up with a business plan. In the second half, only the people who do well and who want to start a business get to go on.”

Dalke said she was the only student in this class who got to continue her business while everyone else will do online entrepreneurship courses.

Deciding on a business

In the beginning of the class, Dalke said they went around the city looking at businesses.

The idea of the exercise, she said, was to think about the various careers and opportunities that might be worth pursuing and then think if a particular business was feasible.

“We were to ask ourselves, ‘Was there a business we could make a profit and also be something enjoyable?’”Dalke said.

It didn’t take long for Dalke to say it was photography.

“But at first I also thought that (photography) wasn’t very realistic,” she said. “So I came up with some other ideas like tutoring because I am pretty good at most every subject.”

Dalke’s idea, she explained, was to tutor young­er students, even just a grade younger, in whatever the subject they needed help with.

“It was between tutoring, which I thought was more practical, and photography, which I thought was more profitable,” she said.

Hands down, Dalke said, she decided on photography because it would make her happier, and the initial investment and start-up costs were practically nil.

Dalke said her mother loaned her a camera, and her parent’s home provided some of the best props around.

“I just thought I would do photography and see where it would go,” she said.

People pictures

Dalke said she likes taking photos of people, but she would also like to try product photography and nature scenes.

“If I should stay in this career, I won’t end up doing people,” she said. “I haven’t tried product photography but I imagine I would enjoy it, as well as nature photography.

“My cousin, Faith, gave me this idea (about nature) and said I was so good at this I should work for National Geographic.”

Even though it would require a lot of travel and equipment, Dalke said she believes it would be a lot of fun, too.

Try new things

The services Dalke offers to clients include a family session, portrait session, eighth-grade promotion session, senior session and birthday party session.

The prices, depending on what package someone chooses, range from $60 to $85.

“So far the only session I have had was a family session,” she said. “But I will also do regular portrait sessions for one or two people (to include engagement photos).”

Dalke said she is still needing to do a better job of putting herself out in front of the public.

“I think it’s just hard advertising myself,” she said.

One of her strengths is being willing to consider what she sees as challenging photos.

Some examples included taking photos of one or more pets, family reunions, and other types of pictures involving people and nature scenes.

One advantage she said she has is that her parents, Jana and Dale Dalke, owners of Serenity Gardens, have a lot of land, plus she has access to public land areas, too.

Getting started

Dalke said that for the most part she taught herself about photography, but she also had help along the way.

“I did take a few classes in 4-H, and some online tutorials,” she said. “My aunt, Joy Dalke, who is also a photographer has helped me a lot with editing.”

Another way she continues perfecting her trade is by doing her own research.

She said she likes to invite her friends over to pose for a particular session.

“I really like single-person shoots because I can be more creative with them, and we can do more of whatever we want,” Dalke added.

Those type of shots are some of the most fun, she said, for her and her friends.

“Once someone sets up a session, then we schedule a time and place or places because maybe the client is looking for rustic things,” she said.

Tips of the trade

Dalke said that if someone is interested in photography, she believes they need to have a good eye for detail, be creative and come up with unique ideas.

“Sometimes I have an idea I am willing to try out, and it might work, or it might not, but it’s trying to do something different,” she said.

Another important thing to remember, Dalke said, is to have a lot of patience learning things, and always look at good photographers and compare yourself to them.

“It takes learning things on your own,” she said. “Someone can’t wait for things to come to them.”

Whatever the session is, Dalke said she researches ahead of time and looks at what other photographers have done.

“I do a lot of work before a session takes place,” she said. “I go through poses, look for locations and if I have a really good pose that I just love on and it’s on a bridge, I have to find a bridge to replicate that shot.”

Dalke said she has a lot of gratitude for the people who helped her get started and continue to support her in whatever way they can.

“I want to thank Mr. Hie­bert for giving me the idea,” she said. “My parents for their help for the ideas in the types of sessions and pricing.”

Dalke also thanked other family members, the people she is around daily and her friends for their willingness to help her reach her goals.

For more information about Dalke’s sessions, visit her Facebook page: Captured In Time Photography or visit her email: jessidalke@usd410.net.

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