We had the good fortune of connecting with Shadia Amen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shadia, any pet peeves with networking events? Anything you feel works well in terms of relationship building?
I am all about energy and vibes. I spend a good amount of my first hour of shooting just scanning the room, feeling out the energy of the guests. That way, I can determine my approach, whether simple and serious or comfortable and creative. Events (and event photography) bring about a wide range of personalities. Some guests Love to chat, while others are not even interested in having their picture taken, let alone have a conversation. So I start off with a smile and a little shake of my camera towards them to see if I get a smile or a nod back. Often, If I notice a group of people smiling and laughing, I slide on over and ask if I can capture that moment for them. Doing so frequently leads to pleasant introductions, short conversations, and ends with me handing over my business card so they can see their Images after the event. Fortunately, I am able to create new relationships and clients from those brief interactions. I tend to be quite shy in general, though, if the vibes in the room are positive, I am inclined to let my Free spirited personality shine. I connect with high energy and positive people. I have a tendency to avoid those with a more rigid personality. Those I feel might be micro-managers would not be compatible with my photography style.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Photography has been my passion for the last 5 years. It is my therapy, my getaway. I get visibly excited when I get “The Shot!” My clients laugh at me when I squeal or let out a loud OoohWeee when I capture perfection in my eyes! I’m told I have a “weird eye.” And I take that as a compliment! I capture my images from a different perspective, one that most would have not have seen themselves. The story my images tell vary greatly from a technically perfect picture. My images speak, so I’m told. One of my favorite lines from others is, “I get lost in your pictures. I feel like I’m right there inside them, feeling everything with them.” My Instagram page (@Shads580) goes the extra mile and creates a story in your mind with each image posted. I quote Lyrics from songs that catch my attention, whether the lyrics reminded me of a picture I’ve already taken, or Lyrics I hear that make me want to go searching for the perfect image. An image that my mind’s eye sees when I hear those lyrics. I am proud of the hard work I’ve put in to learn photography. I am fully self-taught. I have never taken college courses. Aside from the 3 day conference and a 3-session class our public schools offered when I got my first camera 7 years ago, I have overcome the obstacles on my own. There was a lot of Trial and error, tons of unhappy moments, but there were also amazing friends to shoot with, and bounce ideas off of. I’ve also been blessed with wonderful mentors, and lots and lots of positive thinking. The biggest lesson I learned, is never to sell yourself short. Know your Self-Worth. Not every client is your ideal client. Just because they know you or want you to be their photographer, does not mean they are a perfect fit for you. It is OKAY to say, “I don’t think we are a good fit for one another.” I learned to be okay with turning down an opportunity if it does not serve my future well. It took years of being taken advantage of by the general public to finally acknowledge my own worth and master the art of refusal on a professional level.
Now, shooting Charity events for free and giving special rates for non-profits are part of who I am as a person. It’s my give back to my community. It is something I do for myself and on my own accord. I will forever be a work in progress. We all are. I heard a quote once; Albert Einstein, I believe, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” That stuck with me. Always be teachable. Always seek knowledge. There is Always something to learn, Always!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oh Boy, I live in Detroit. The Motor City! Our days would be full! Belle Isle State Park is mandatory! The conservatory, Aquarium, beach, and BBQ’ing… Finish it off with a Sunset over the city skyline. We’d have to get to bed early, because There’s a secret spot we’d wake up at the crack of dawn to hurry to and watch the sunrise, grab breakfast at a local hot spot, then go home and nap a bit after that! We’d wake up again, and make our way to the popular landmarks around my city. We would Have a huge Middle Eastern meal at one of the many Amazing Lebanese restaurants in Dearborn (My hometown), Likely Kabob Inn or Al Ameer. Finish the evening with a bonfire at my place with all the family/friends… And we are Many! Next day, we would check out Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, this would take the entire day. Head back to the house for a BBQ get together, play Giant Jenga and cornhole. Next, we wake up early to go Tailgate for a Lion’s/Tiger’s game or a concert in the D… Whether you actually go to the games/concert or not… The Tailgating is where it’s at. Another day, we would check out The Motown museum and a tour of the Fisher building, if Architecture appreciation is there… There would be lots of picture taking this week! Finishing the day with a tour of our local Breweries. Detroit is full of events and festivals almost weekly in the Spring/Summer… Great vibes, fun for people watching, and an energy that is unmatched!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My ROCK THAT NATION Family was a key factor to my success story. Starting with my Homie and Mentor, Shawn Lee. Let me tell you a story… As I mentioned before, I’m rather shy. So Shy, that I avoid social situations in a way that has indisputably limited my chances of rising to my full potential. Less than 2 years ago, I started off being a nervous wreck, walking into a 3 day “Rock That” Photography Conference ALONE! I literally forced myself to sign up the night before, after arguing with myself about it for months. Well, I walked in (late, so as to avoid the crowd), Sat myself in the very last seat, of the very last row, in the far right corner… #ComfortZone. I was content and minding my own, until I stood up to stretch… In that moment, This man, Shawn Lee, The CEO and creator of this Photography conference, decided to do a quick Live Shoot Demo. Now, of all the hundreds of people in the room, Shawn called upon ME to be his subject for his Live Shooting Demo… ON THE STAGE!!! Yikes. My anxiety soared like a free bird… And I couldn’t say no with all these people now staring at me! So I got on that stage, laughed my butt off as he tried to get me to give a serious look, and I survived the shoot. Now, Had that moment NOT happened… I would’ve stayed in the back… talked to nobody, and went to wait in my car for the following sessions to begin… But thanks to my stage appearance… These remarkably talented folks all approached ME and I am so thankful. I have met some of the kindest, most thoughtful humans on the planet. All with photography on the brain… and a One Love mentality… LIKE ME. The conference was full of great information, extremely helpful hints and tools, beautiful stories, and so much love for one another. People genuinely looking to help each other better themselves. SO, THESE KIND OF PEOPLE STILL EXIST!!! On Day 2 of the conference, The sister of one of the members passed away. She returned to the conference, because she knew she had a great support system there. She called us her second family. To add to the sadness, one of the Panel members had just shared with us that his wife had just come out of surgery for a double mastectomy… And he still came to the conference to present because these people are his family, just the same. So Shawn asked the entire conference to stop for a moment and say a prayer for these two wonderful people. Of course, everyone got up and huddled around these two, myself included. Shawn said a prayer, In Jesus’ name, Amen… BEAUTIFUL MOMENT. We all hugged the heck out of these two and returned to our seats to continue the conference. Shawn was surprised to later find out I am a Lebanese Muslim… Not just because of the way I look, but because I stood in that prayer circle and prayed right along, “In Jesus’ name.” He had no idea that Jesus is the most quoted prophet in the Qur’an! That Jesus is my Homie too! Fast forward to the closing party after day 3… There is a group called #somanyangels led by a Human Angel, Matt Meiers. This fantastic being takes pictures of terminally ill children and turns them into their favorite Superheroes. He did that for several kids and presented the finished Canvases to these children and/or their families during the closing party. Not a dry eye in the house. So You know I had to snap some pics! 24 hours later, Shawn calls me personally, asking if he could use some of my images for his Ted Talk that following week. Um… YEAH, YOU CAN! We chatted a bit, and I shared a little more with him about my Cultural/Religious background… At which point, he felt I was a perfect match for his team and invited me to JOIN his Photography team AT the TEDxDetroit event! What an opportunity! The entire day, from 6am-7pm, went smoothly, without so much as a hiccup. And let me tell you, The first few hours were pure Madness! I got to work with the best of the best. And to top it all off, During Shawn’s Ted Talk, While he was sharing my Images from the conference, He was talking about the need for community. He then shared with the 5,000 person Audience about how this Lebanese Muslim Girl he just met at his conference got up and Prayed with hundreds of people from all different backgrounds. All for the greater good of our community. And then started to scan the crown as he mentioned I was running around the Venue somewhere, to which I found an empty seat and sat down as fast as I could! There is Nothing better than working with the perfect team. Thanks to Shawn and the ROCK THAT NATION, I’ve gotten my Photography business up and running full speed! I am also officially on the TedXDetroit Photography team as well as the ROCK THAT Photography Conference Team!