written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Clare Ahalt is originally from Nottingham, England. She attended law school there and obtained her Masters in International Law at American University Washington College of Law after moving to Frederick, Maryland. She is a Foreign Law Specialist with the Library of Congress.
Clare lives on a small horse farm at the base of Frederick’s Catoctin Mountain along with her husband, Dr. Brooks Ahalt, DVM and owner of Jefferson Veterinary Hospital, and five children. “We have horses, dogs, cats and chickens… a whole menagerie. I think we may be getting a piggy here soon.”
Now in her third year as the owner/photographer of Clare Ahalt Photography, Clare passes along 3 great reasons to work with a professional photographer.
1. Photography Captures Individual Stories.
In fact, Clare expertly captures the personalities of her subjects in a moment in time, whether she’s working with young children or high school seniors. “I kind of settled into those genres. Those are the ones that I really truly enjoy doing.”
She adds, “I love working with children and capturing their natural expressions. I love working with high school seniors — just seeing them right on the cusp before they go into adulthood.”
2. Custom Images
Clare works closely with every client to deliver results that meet and surpass all expectations. Her goal is to capture exactly what they want. The emotional reactions to the finished photographs confirm her incredible, heart-tugging success.
“I learned after the first few viewing appointments to have a box of tissues on the table because 9 out of 10 people would cry. I’m from England — we just don’t cry over there! So, that was an anomaly to me!”
3. Dedication To The Complete Process
Clare takes care of her clients from start to finish. And, there’s a lot more involved than most people might believe.
“From listening to them in the beginning to find out exactly what they want to making sure they have an heirloom-quality finished product that’s ready for them at the end.
To me, it’s very important. It’s something that people will have for the rest of their lives and will be able to pass down from generation to generation.”
Clare’s Early Steps On The Path To Professional Photography
“I’m the only person in my family that is over here. For my parents and grandparents to see my children, it was through pictures. So, I started to get into that.”
Clare continues, “Then, every time I went back to England, my brother — who had studied photography and did a lot of landscape and wildlife photography — his pictures were always better than mine.
As anyone who has a sibling and has any sibling rivalry will know, that’s very frustrating. I just couldn’t let it happen!
So, he gave me some advice and I tried to study as much as I could and learn as much as I could. I took everything I had learned in Law School, how to research and just basically suck up all of the information that I could related to photography, and applied that.”
Clare’s Greatest Challenge In Starting A Professional Photography Business
“Photography is not simply just pressing the shutter on a good camera. It involves so much more than that. The photography business is just that — it’s a business.
It requires paying taxes, having accounting, having insurance, marketing, advertising. There are so many other facets to the business side.” And, then, there’s the photography side.
“You have to learn the technical aspects. You have to know how to pose somebody, how to get different expressions from people. You have to know the lighting.” And, then, there’s editing to be done.
“Once that shutter has clicked, you have to edit the picture and that takes time. Editing the picture takes more time, generally, than the entire shoot.
It’s the behind-the-scenes time that takes the longest. Most people think you just press the shutter and you can send the picture over straight away but only half the job is done at that point.”
Clare Would Offer Some Sage Advice To Her Former Self If She Could
“There are so many things that are involved in having a photography business that most people probably don’t realize. I didn’t realize it. Make sure you know about all of these different things before you truly start.”
Clare continues to handle almost everything herself. Her assistant, Amanda, lends a hand with emails, scheduling, etc. “She knows how I work and she’s just wonderful.”
Making A Difference Comes With Time
Clare doesn’t feel like she’s making a difference…yet. “There’s the emotional impact when they first see it. And, when they first have the finished product, it’s good. And, then, just over time…that value increases over time.
I think that the difference that will come from the work that I have done will be seen probably a generation from now. Grandparents will show grandchildren pictures of them when they were children.”
She continues, “I think photography is something where the value increases so much over time. One of my favorite photographs was taken by my brother. It’s of my grandma who has since passed away. It was the first time she had met my son.
We had got from the airport and he was asleep in her arms. She’s cradling him. Just the look on her face…looking down at him. It was precious to me once he took it and sent it over to me.
But, now that she’s gone, that’s just a moment that you can’t get back. I love that picture. It makes me sad to see it, but…”
Clare’s Favorite Editing Tools Are In The Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud has everything that’s needed to keep photos organized, perform editing tasks, and share the results on both desktops and mobile devices. It’s something that Clare relies on and would not want to do without.
She transitioned from hard copy editing software by Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop to the online versions and she’s hooked! “It’s different from the hard copy because it rolls out upgrades almost instantly. Like, they upgrade it and here it comes!
It forces me to keep learning…to learn the new tools. It’s essential for my work flow to have that software available to me. That’s Adobe Creative Cloud.”
A Quote From Her Teen Years In England Keeps Clare Pushing Onward
Clare recalls being in comprehensive school and taking an exam when she was fifteen years old. She was sitting in “a tiny exam chair in a big hall. I had paused and one of my teachers walked past me. He kind of said under his breath ‘Keep on going, Clare. Keep going, Clare!’
Literally, from that point, any tough moment I’ve had — any exam in law school..any time where life has just gotten a bit tricky — I kind of take a breath and say ‘keep going Clare.’ And, that’s what I do. It pushes me past the hard part.”
Contact Clare Ahalt Photography To Capture Time For Future Generations
How does Clare juggle a family, a farm, entrepreneurship and her job at the Library of Congress? “I’m not quite sure,” she responds. “Somehow, we get through each day and then the next one begins again.”
One thing is sure, though. Clare can only accommodate a limited number of photography clients. Schedule an appointment now to secure the opportunity to have your very own fine art portraiture by Clare Ahalt Photography.
Serving Maryland, Northern Virginia and DC
* Children * High School Seniors * Pets
Content Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast #40: Eric Verdi Interviews Clare Ahalt