Freelance Fashion Photographer - Josainis
Josainis Veria Belet is a focused, hardworking and ambitious fashion photographer who came to Alberta from Cuba, landed in Red Deer and didn’t know at the time that this prairie town would be the beginning of an entrepreneurial career in the fashion photography industry. Just like many newcomers, in the beginning, she worked a variety of jobs. "I started with the beauty counter at Superstore. That was my first job in Canada."
Reaching goals doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, perserverance and the ability to plan. With these traits in hand, within only four months of arrival, Josainis enrolled in Red Deer College to study web and graphic design. "It was an intense program and I had a language barrier but I made it through." When she finished her program, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she immediately started her own business doing freelance website and logo design. "I thought this was what I wanted to do but I just didn’t like it,” she says. "It wasn't a waste of my time though because I knew I could use the skills."
Her positive attitude seems to permeate everything she tackles. She quit her web design business and worked retail for five years running a store. She learned the ins and outs of managing a small business and started thinking about opening another business of her own. “I had an interest in photography but the equipment is so expensive. If I was going to start a photography business, I needed to make money so I quit my retail job and went to work in the oil patch.” It's not your typical career path. From beauty counter, to web design, to retail, to driving a Kenworth iron truck in the oil patch. Josainis was creating a random career path that didn't appear to make sense to someone looking from the outside in, but she didn't let perception get in her way. Her oil patch career move made sense.
To prepare, Josainis got all the necessary tickets, found a job and started driving truck with the goal of saving startup money for a photography business. Somewhere along the way, she went back to to MC College in Red Deer for makeup artistry because she thought the combination skills of photography and makeup would be good together. Her makeup artistry certificate alongside her oil patch safety certificates certainly make for an interesting combination of training and, at this point in our interview, I marvel at the unusual combination of skills she has built.
However, random skills can come together and since her business called Josainis Photography launched about 3 years ago, it has grown. Her style, business savvy, incredible work ethic and relationship building has brought her recognition in the photography industry. She got into fashion photography by serendipity when she did a model’s headshot. Numa modeling agency became interested and hired her to do test shoots. In addition to her work with Numa, she does her own freelance work, building model’s portfolios and shooting commercial and creative editorials that have been published in magazines.
But her entrepreneurial spirit won’t let her quit there. She recently decided to partner with two other photographers Emelia Kim and Chris McMullan to create a one stop shop for model portfolio building giving models access to three photographers, with three different styles and three different looks in one photo shoot with a hair and makeup team working alongside. It is a smart concept that helps models build their portfolio faster. The team also gives models the option of submitting to magazines for the additional exposure. She adds, “We work with the model to do whatever they want, mentoring with styling and posing so they can learn. We make up the mood board three weeks ahead of the photo shoot but we tailor for their preferences so they come out with a portfolio of photos that they feel connected to.”
Sometimes expanding a freelance career to include a partnership can be daunting but Josainis sees the value in collaborating. “Working with a team, we are shooting six outfits so it takes more time, but we help each other, and we are wearing a lot of hats. We will be a posing coach while the other photographer is doing lighting and we have to respect each other’s ideas, style and personalities. Communication can get tricky because we also have a hair and makeup team that we are also working with but the collaboration is good.” I ask her what is her role in the team and she responds, “I do a lot of the advertising. I’m the one who does the sales and communicates with the client. I also do pricing and then Emelia handles the communication. She also does the mood boards and Chris handles the printing. We have our jobs based on what we are comfortable with.”
When asked what her plans are for the future, there is a tone of determination in her voice. “I want to be able to do more commercial photography and work with other companies if possible in the beauty industry. I’m currently working on how to connect with other businesses. I want to understand more about how the beauty, modeling and commercial industry works.” We talk about the importance of verbalizing our dreams and goals and how it is like creating a mood board of what we want our future to look like agreeing that we are more apt to go after our dreams once we put it out there with people. “What I want to do is take care of sales, work with my team, build teams of photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists and build relationships with businesses to take care of their photography needs.” She definitely has a vision of where she wants to go and she isn’t afraid of sharing it. “I’m not scared of sharing my dreams with other people. I can’t be scared because then I won’t do it.”
Josainis’ experiences and skills have come together in her business. Her retail beauty experience and makeup artistry training helps her in photo shoots. Her retail business management experience has provided a foundation for managing her own business and driving truck gave her the investment capital to get her photography business launched. And, even though she didn’t like web design as a job, she is grateful that she has the skills to design and manage her own website and social media platforms. Since her arrival in Canada, the skills and experience built from a jagged career path has finally merged to create Josainis Photography.