Today we’d like to introduce you to Chettara Hunter.
Hi Chettara, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
When I was 5, my grandmother gave me my very first camera. From a young age (and greatly due to her help) I entered and won many competitions but I never saw it as a career path, it was just something fun to do, until 2016.
Some history, when I was diagnosed with Lupus at 16, I had to give up my dream of being in the Air Force. I cried for weeks after the recruiter told me Lupus is a no-go for the military. So, I went to my guidance counselor and we discussed my options he told me the following quote by H. Jackson Brown, “When you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.” Words that are powerful and will forever resonate with me. I even got a tattoo as a visual representation of it. So, I went to school for Marine Biology then switched to Sociology/Environmental Science before proceeding to Law School. After my first year of Law School, I felt a bit empty and sat down to take a serious look at my life and still couldn’t really figure it out, I just knew that I needed my camera in my hand. Some sails had to be adjusted; I didn’t know how though.
Then the concert happened in 2016! I took some photos, and the venue saw it. After some discussion, I was hired to take behind the scene images for them. From there it snowballed, and I figured… oh if I could do this then I certainly can do that. From that moment all the pieces sort of clicked together, and I knew what I wanted to do. I’m extremely blessed to be able to work with so many amazing people and will forever be grateful for having my old counselor, Mr. Branch of the then Murray-Wright High School in my life. Due to his talks and that one quote, I’m able to adjust my sails.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It seems smooth because of how I started, but there were definitely some rough seas along the way. When I first started doing couples/weddings/elopements (which is my specialty), I didn’t have a full website with images of myself, just my work. So, I went to do a lot of face-to-faces, and I had a particularly rough meeting that forced me to change my approach. A woman who I met at a coffee shop to discuss her wedding and packages threw her coffee in my face. We were talking via email 2 weeks prior to our meeting. At our meeting, she sat down and asked if I was really the Chettara she was communicating with, and once I confirmed, she said words I would never forget. She said, “Blacks can’t be photographers, especially for a wedding; go shoot a barbecue; those photos you shared are probably stolen since that’s what your people do.” Got up right after that and threw her drink in my face. To say I was discouraged and angry are huge understatement, but that made me push out of my comfort zone. I started to share more of myself and made sure my face was everywhere… on my profile, website, business card… just everywhere. It actually ended up helping me because I got more business by doing so.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I mainly photograph people. In particular, my specialties are couples, weddings/elopements, and boudoir. I’m most proud of the responses I get afterward. Many people who show up nervous to shoot end up leaving with smiles on their faces. I get so many messages stating how they had fun, they would love to do it again, and it makes me blush but compliments about me. It all gives me the best feeling in the world.
I think what sets me apart is my approach as well as my colors/tones. I don’t go to a shoot with poses in mind; ideas may be based on their favorite songs (I’m an odd one) but never poses. I want my couples/people to be them and at the moment. We talk, we laugh, we cry, we dance… we just are. That’s where the magic happens to me.
If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
- I don’t try to nickel and dime people, so my prices are set, and I try to work with various budgets if I can.
- Portraits: $600
- Boudoir Packages start at $550
- Weddings start at $3000
- Elopements start at $1650
Nicole & Daniela Photography