As Andrea Marchant approaches her 25th anniversary of her successful entrepreneurial journey via As It Happens Photography (AIHP) this summer, I visited her beautiful, serene studio to find out more about her and the journey she’s been on.
Andrea was surrounded by photography and cameras growing up, thanks to her parents being medical photographers.
She says “My father taught photo physics at the University of Montreal and was the head of the medical photography department at Montreal Children’s Hospital.
He, along with my mother, photographed the first open heart surgery in Canada.
Interestingly, my dad invented the ring flash. He simply took four flashes, put it around a lens and, well, there you go. My mother’s background was graphic design and graphic arts and was a dark room technician. Before they started dating, my dad hired her mom to work for him.”
She continues with a jovial laugh and says “It’s amazing what develops in a dark room!”
While her parents were immersed in photography, they didn’t enjoy photographing people.
Even after her father moved on from the photography world, the photography gear was still present.
Subsequently, Andrea took an interest in the world of photography and learning more about it.
After high school, her first career choice was sales and marketing. She graduated from Business College in Hamilton and took a job in her field for a couple of years.
When she decided to start a family, her entrepreneurial side developed and she took a more focused look at making photography a career.
In her early 20’s, she took photography courses via Sheridan College and mentored with other photographers.
The two most influential mentors she had was Frank Cornacchia, as she simply loved his style.
Then there was Craig Minielly, which was her primary influence. Through him, she learned a lot about lighting
“He’s brilliant; absolutely one of the very best in the world he really is phenomenal. I learned so much from him” she says.
Armed with knowledge, she started with small wedding photography projects in the summer of 1993…she went both hands, both feet and all lenses in to make AIHP a success.
She recalls “my first actual paid gig was a tiny wedding at Chinguacousy Park in Brampton, which was photographed on film. I was so nervous I wanted to throw up but I was also so excited so I couldn’t!”
Once she finished the job, she said to herself “that was fun!” Without skipping a breath, Andrea quickly and confidently says “I believe in finding fun in everything you do.” And hence, AIHP was ready to take on the world.
As her two daughters were growing up and AIHP was flourishing, she would often take courses to keep her skill set sharp and well-rounded. Andrea is a strong believer in the” always be learning” approach, which is a lifelong commitment for her.
AIHP has allowed Andrea to travel the world as a photographer and work with an array of wonderful people.
She’s worked with national companies, shot hundreds of weddings and events and done a plethora of family portraiture.
One of the biggest takeaways she shared with me about wedding photography is this:
“Wedding photography isn’t about my vision; it’s their story. It’s about capturing what they want. Understanding the psychology of the wedding day so I can best be of service and help and work with them."
Through hard work, dedication, consistency and a willingness to always be learning, Andrea has carved a tremendous career. One of her core values is giving back.
She says “I like to give to people who give; it’s so important to me.”
She’s very involved with the Alzheimers Society because they gave Andrea a lot during her time of need as a family member was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
“The advice and coaching and support they offered was unparalleled, which is why I’m happy to help and support them.”
She also loves to educate and tries to have a coop student each year.
Where’d the name “As It Happens Photography” originate from?
Andrea succinctly explains that it’s a reflection of how you explain photojournalism in a name.
Full marks for having a smart, simple and catchy name.
Doing some quick math during our conversation, it quickly occurred to me that Andrea’s career saw her experience the introduction and transition from film to digital photography. Smartly, she was one of the first portrait photographers to make the move into digital photography, which illustrates that she’s aware of the happenings within her industry and able to pivot within it.
Another exclamation mark on her career was receiving her Master’s Degree in the photographic arts in 2007.
I asked her if there was anything she’d alter over the past 25 years, to which she responded:
“I was clear with my vision and direction of where I wanted to go with AIHP from day one and I’ve stuck with that. It’s a combination of classical portraiture and a photojournalistic approach, which is storytelling. My photobooks tell a story. When people look at their wedding albums I’ve created, I want them to feel what they felt on that day. I want it to evoke an emotion. I don’t’ want it to simply be a book of pictures.”
During our time together, Andrea has a very humble approach to her success and it’s clear that she loves what she does. However, after nearly 25 years, are there any second thoughts?
She confidently responded with“At no time have I ever said that I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve never even considered anything else. I’m fortunate to have a strong ability to focus on my goals and I’m so thankful to have a comfortable and happy life doing what I love.”
I asked Andrea about what exactly makes a great photograph and her simple yet effective answer was this: “Emotion, composition and lighting are the 3 pillars that create a wonderful, memorable photograph.”
She continued by saying this “A great set of pots does not make you a great chef… It’s all about creating a piece of art that combines technique, form and experience.”
She’s been more involved in the community via MBOT as of in 2017 and enjoys being involved in community outreach. She’s also done several local corporate events (which, interestingly, is where we met.)
For 2018, one of her goals is to have AIHP move in the direction of multi generational family portraits, and to continue to have have fun with the corporate photojournalism.
She truly believes that celebrating the love of all your family is paramount.
Her advice for developing entrepreneurs? (She gave me some gems!)
“It’s important to keep a balance between family, health and work.
Treat clients like family and develop friendships with them.
Run your business like a business opposed to a hobby.
Don’t just do; teach and give back.
Most importantly, be good to yourself, do what you love and love what you do.”
What impressed me most about this Brossard, QC born and former competitive Western style horse rider happened as our conversation was wrapping up.
She was gracious for our time together and thanked me for visiting and interviewing her.
It was then that she sincerely asked “What can I do to help you with Modern Mississauga?”
Further proof that Andrea truly does care about the community and wants to help others.
As I wrap this up, I’ll mention that Andrea also owns “Coach House Weddings” that offers her property as a gorgeous location for wedding ceremonies. There’s even a bridal suite AND a man cave on site!
With her 25th anniversary coming up this summer, Andrea has developed a stellar career in doing what she loves and certainly isn’t a flash in the pan.
She’s in focus, bright and an inspirational entrepreneur.