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Joe Maher, Owner of JM Images


JM Images: Focus on Relationships

On the surface, photography is simple: Grab a camera, point your lens, and shoot. But as with most things, what appears simple to an observer is richly complex to the person behind the scenes. For Joe Maher, sole owner and photographer at , photography is about art, craft, and having an eye for composition and lighting (to name just a few components). When people are the main subjects, every photo becomes more challenging because there must be open conversation, a desire to know someone beyond the lens, and a natural level of comfort. Luckily, the human element is exactly why Joe keeps shooting: "The business is second nature," says Joe. "I like coming in contact with people and making relationships." And it's this love of relationships and people that's made JM Images a successful, sought-after studio for the last four years.

But don't be fooled by the single-digit age of his studio. Though his shop is relatively young as businesses go, Joe himself has been shooting for more than 20 years. He had a studio years ago where he worked for a Pittsburg-based food photographer, but he grew tired of shooting food. In fact, all of that food made him lose interest in photography as a career, so he took a professional break to pursue a personal interest: parenting. As parents tend to take a few photos of their children, Joe rediscovered his interest in photography over the course of raising his son and, in 2010, he decided that it was time to tighten his focus, as it were. Time to make his mark in the world of photography. And he's made quite a mark. From wedding moments to senior portraits to baby photos — some of which he's done for the same couples that hired him to shoot their "Big Day" — Joe is putting his spin on photography as only he can. And it's not hard to understand why.

Joe is in this for the people. Anyone can say they treat their clients like family, but few can live up to that in the way that he has and does. In fact, when asked what sets JM Images apart, Joe won't spend time trying to impress you with his studio or his unique style. Instead, he'll tell you about the people he's gotten to know over the years: "This is a relationship-based business and that comes through with my images…. I really want to know what makes my clients tick."

If someone doesn't feel comfortable in front of the lens, it will show in the final product, but a big part of how the final product looks depends on what's behind the lens as well. And comfort behind the lens is such a natural part of Joe's approach that he was prompted to start another leg of his photography business just two years after opening JM Images. That leg — JM Haute — specializes in capturing the untouched humanity and beauty in clients through more personal photography and portraiture. Joe's bodyscapes are more than photos; they're fine art. More evocative that provocative, these images aren't about gimmicks or props or awkward poses — they're about the subject. "These clients are happy with their bodies and they want to preserve that," said Joe, "it's a very different way to be photographed." Every one of Joe's bodyscapes captures the subject for who they really are and, though not intentional on Joe's part, every image captures the photographer as well.

At the end of the day, JM Image's primary focus is delivering an amazing experience to the client and, as a small-business owner, Joe has complete flexibility in how he makes that happen. So if he isn't the right fit for a project — and no one photographer is the right fit for everything — he'll say so. "I always tell people I'm not for everybody," Joe said with a laugh, "I'm not sure if that's Business 101, but the comfort level has to be there and there has to be a relationship." Does that mean he'll turn down business? Absolutely. But he's doing it for the client. And with JM Images, a strong client focus always goes without saying.

For more information, visit http://www.jmimages.com/.

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