Picture This Photography
By Eric T. Campbell
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT —Teresa Elijah’s association with the camera began with a career posing in front of it as a model. But a fascination with the process itself led to the other side, and a business venture called Picture This Photography.
“I often became interested in what the photographer was doing,” Elijah told the Michigan Citizen, describing her start in photography and end to modeling. “And I figured, looks only last so long.”
After a short time asking questions, Elijah began shooting subjects that were familiar to her. She did portfolios for a couple of friends; took photos at family events; and captured nature scenes in her spare time. She used cameras that weren’t necessarily professional, but accessible.
“It was something I knew I wanted to do,” said Elijah. “I just never had access to the equipment.”
In 1995, Elijah came to the rescue of a friend who needed a photographer for her wedding, but couldn’t quite afford a professional. She took several rolls of film using only a smaller, flat 110 film format camera—the ones that were popular in the 70s and 80s. Several of the photographs ended up in the possession of the church pastor who, along with his wife, suggested that Elijah pursue a career.
As Picture This began to take shape, people were often surprised at the modest cost as compared to the increasing quality of Elijah’s work.
“I tried to keep the pricing at a minimum,” said Elijah. “I needed the work and, especially, the experience.”
For the first couple of years, Elijah primarily worked cabaret style parties for groups such as Second to None. The experience allowed her to work with backdrops and props. But it was her affiliation with Edwards Wedding Photography in Southfield that gave her an opportunity to train on a professional level. Her attempt to join the nationwide studio as a wedding photographer led to her participation in their required 15 week training class.
“The education I received from them was insurmountable.”
The class led to a formal position with the company, which she’s held for five years. The studio also gives formal critiques on finished photography work after the completion of a job. Elijah’s clientele tripled soon after joining Edwards Photography.
“I learned more in the first year than I had the whole time I’d been shooting,” she said. “I give them a lot of credit for where I am right now.”
Now, Elijah claims wedding photography to be her main focus. She’s become comfortable with capturing memories that are extremely important to people. It can be a high pressure situation and mistakes can be costly, according to Elijah.
“For a wedding it’s a one shot deal”, she says. “I’m not one that will do everything posed—I’ll do candids. It’s what catches the essence of the wedding.”
Elijah also specializes in senior high school portraits and graduation pictures. Her new studio in Southfield will have room for the scenery and props that have now become part of her style. If it happens to be a holiday in autumn, be prepared to share the set with a stack of hay, or pumpkins, or dried corn.
“I prefer having props,” Elijah says, “and things for people to sit down on and around. I might have a real Christmas tree there.”
She also encourages students to bring and utilize items that reflect their interests, whether they relate to sports, academic achievements or extracurricular activities. These items bring a personal touch to photographs, according to Elijah. She even suggests including family members and friends in school portraits in order to capture a particular time and place.
“Bring your teddy bears, bring something,” says Elijah.
Although she still works as an administrative assistant for an environmental engineering firm, Elijah is hoping to turn photography into a full time gig. She’s been shooting mostly on the weekends while setting up a new studio in Southfield.
Visit the Picture This Photography website at www.teepics.com to contact Elijah and view her portfolio.