Monday, June 3, 2013

Picture Perfect - Coffee with the Masters - Joanne Lee, Joanne Lee Photography

Almost seemed silly calling this coffee date "work" because when you get together with Joanne Lee, of Joanne Lee Photography, you are getting together with a friend.  As soon as I walked into The Local Buzz - Cape Elizabeth's newest hot-spot for coffee lovers, I got a warm hug from Ms. Lee.  It's been way too long my friend since we have got together.  I had the pleasure of first meeting Joanne Lee when she photographed me and MyHoney's first family portraits, and my first professional head-shot.  Our dogs were charmed by Joanne, and despite the fact that all Lexi, my little white Shepard-mix wanted to do was sit in her lap, she got some amazing shots.  |

So here is the deal.  I am a blogger who writes about getting together with local amazing business owners and chatting over a cup of coffee to discover how they reached their success - their Key Potential.... and I have decided to quit drinking coffee. Irony right?  After watching the barista make an amazing latte with a glorious leaf design for another patron, I gathered up my will power and ordered a lovely salad - and a water.  I walked back to the table and joined Joanne, and girl talk commenced for another 30 minutes as I munched on my salad, and got caught up with my old friend.

Pushing my plate away, and looking at my blank notepad, I realized I needed to get to the interview  - even though Joanne had already given me so much to write about!  Joanne is interesting, funny, and so talented - she adores her family, her face lights up when she talks about her hubby and two boys,  and how she loves to watch them play baseball.  Her eyes sparkle when she goes back into her memory and talks about a couple she recently photographed who had been searching for each other for 40 years before finally getting together, and getting blissfully married after all these years.....   I could see it all, and she never showed me her portfolio, or any of her photographs.  She didn't need to - the way she described it, I was there.

"It's not just about the photographs - it's about the story...."  I nodded as she smiled, and I felt emotional as she continued to describe the magic she encounters behind the lens of her camera.  "I'm allowed into peoples most intimate moments... from the bride having that last talk with her dad before walking down the aisle..... to taking a newborns first picture - I take that privilege and honor very seriously." 

Joanne's clients are not just clients - they become family.  "They invite me to photograph their wedding, then their first, second and third babies - family portraits, graduations... "  She told me that once a bride and groom took her to the Bahamas to photograph their wedding because there were no quality photographers they knew, liked or trusted there - so she went along with them to shoot their wedding.  Joannes personality is so comfortable and relaxed, I can see why that arrangement would be so comfortable for both her and the newlyweds.

Leaning in, I inquired  "Joanne, what do you contribute to your success?" 

"Well, obviously hard work and dedication - but also I listen.  I listen to the needs and wants of my clients, but I also listen to their story.  It is my job to capture their story - I won't be there later to narrate - the pictures need to speak for themselves - their story needs to come out of the photographs in a way that is moving and meaningful.  My favorite thing to hear when someone is looking at a picture of their child and they say "OH - that is SO Joey" or Justine....  That means I captured the very essence of their child.  It's important to spend time with my clients to get to know them, listen to their story, and capture it so it is reflected back for them to see for themselves"

"What is the key to being able to do that, Joanne?"

"I am always learning.  I have mentors that I think highly of, and ask them to give me feedback on my images.  I take classes in the newest techniques of lighting, contrast and art.  It is very important to me to continue to grow as an artist.... but most importantly - I like to take pictures for fun..."

She went on to tell me about renting a photo studio just to take photographs with her niece as the model - when asked by another photographer the motive for the shoot, Joannes response was "Oh, we are just having fun..." Puzzling the fellow photographer because of all the production and art that Joanne had brought to the shoot.  "It was just for fun.  I need to be fulfilled as an artist to grow as a business owner." 

Joanne - thank you for sharing your keys to reaching your potential.  Listening to your clients so you can capture their stories, continually learning as a business owner and as an artist, and having fun, so that you remained fulfilled so you can continue to grow.  That, right there, is the picture perfect formula for success. 

"Picture Perfect" is an installment of  the "Coffee with the Masters." Series.   If you are a business owner in the Greater Portland Area who would like to chat over cup of coffee to share your keys to success and how to reach your Key Potential - please contact me.  I'm buying!


  1. Joanne is such a good friend, and I think you really captured her in this wonderful piece. Thank you Priscilla!


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