Shine Theory

Sun’s Shining: Jontell, Photography & The Sun

Hey friends, ‘Lysse here! With the creation of the new Sun’s Shining category on my blog I started to think about all the women in my life who are doing incredible things and my friend, Jontell Parham, immediately came to mind. While photography can simply be picking up a camera and taking a shot, there is a lot of skill and talent that differentiates one person from another, and let me tell you, Jontell has the “it” factor. Not only does she have “it” when it comes to taking pictures, but she is also business savy enough to take things to the next level and make her business official #impressive. You can read Jontell’s post below to learn a little more about what she does and her take on “Shine Theory.”

When she sent me an email of her draft I started reading it and was like wait, this sounds so much like me, did I write this?! No, but honestly I am in love with all she has to say and I am so glad to have her on the blog for the first official Sun’s Shining post. Enjoy!

P.S I promise I didn’t tell her to include anything about “the Sun,” but I think it is fantastic that she did 🙂

Hey everyone! I’m Jontell Parham and I’m the owner of Jontell Vanessa Photography, a wedding and portrait business based in Virginia. I “unofficially” started my business two years ago when I created a Facebook page for my Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.43.07 PMphotography work. In my opinion, creating a space where I could finally showcase my work meant more to me than all of the work that would eventually make my business legal. I wanted the chance to take my passion for photography to the next level, but I was afraid being “another amateur with an expensive camera.”

Alysse introduced me to Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory article and I absolutely love it! Every woman needs to read it, understand it, and live by it. My business wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the amazing women in the industry who operate on the idea of creating a community rather than competition. Natalie Franke, a photographer I admire, said it best: “another woman’s prosperity does not make me inferior.” By building friendships instead of war zones, I’m able to work with other photographers to help us both build better businesses and give more to our clients.

Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph gorgeous weddings and cherish memories for dozens of people over the short course of my photography business. In the middle of writing this post, I took a quick phone call from a bride’s mom and she ended the call by saying that she knew God led her to the perfect photographer for her daughter’s wedding. That’s something I could have only dreamed of hearing two years ago!

If I’m being honest – between the countless miles of driving to locations, late-night editing, and figuring out how to own a business in college – there are plenty of days when I want to quit. Then, clients come along, just like that bride’s mom, and say just the thing I need to hear to remember that this business is bigger than all of the little bumps in the road. I give my fears and plans for my business to God, and in return, he allows me to use this passion of mine to serve and glorify His Kingdom.

Whatever it is that you want to achieve, fight the fears and go after it. Go start a business, run the marathon, choose the missions trip, get the PhD. You’re capable of remarkable things, but you have to be brave enough to take the first step towards something a little bit bigger than you. I promise you, along the way, you’ll find your people. The ones who will push you forward because they see your potential and love you enough to help you reach it. You’ll find your Cristina Yang to remind you that you are the Sun and you are strong enough to keep fighting and pushing forward.

Jontell Parham


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    […] If you’re a long time Lysse On Life reader you may remember her. Last year, she wrote a guest post about her photography business! She clearly does incredible work, and after the session I was joking with her about shooting my […]

    April 20, 2017 at 7:18 pm
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