Rhee Bevere began photographing at a young age, introduced to the art by her father. In fact, he gave her a manual Argus Camera with three lenses when she was in the sixth grade. She then graduated to his Pentax K100 when he realized that she had a true talent. But her father probably never guessed that the little camera he got his young daughter would lead to her making a difference in the lives of others, from brides to families in need.
Despite her skill, Bevere didn't consider photography as a career until years later. And it was her then-current "boss" who gave her a push in the right direction!
While working in the advertising industry, she gave her creative director an 8x10 image as a Christmas gift. "She came barging into my office to say, 'You know, you're pretty good at advertising, but THIS is what you should be doing,'" recalls Bevere of her inspiration to go pro.
She describes it as her "light bulb moment," and it led her to open her business 9 years ago.
Today, Bevere's business--Rhee Bevere Photography in the South Bay area near San Jose, Calif.--has succeeded, thanks to her photojournalistic style of photography and how much she cares for her clients and their stories.
"I love the moment--being in it as well as catching it," she says. "I thrive under pressure and getting it right on the spot. I think I'm better than the average bear at seeing a moment about to unfold, and I'm so blessed that I've been able to hone my timing to catch things most photographers miss."
When she first started her business, Bevere focused mainly on catching those moments during weddings. Now, she has begun adding family photojournalism to her services.
"The wedding industry is changing (as it always does), and wedding photojournalists are faced with demands for more portraiture and more 'stuff' included in the packages. I'm working more without earning more," explains Bevere about her decision to expand product lines. "And as I see my couples come back with this baby or that baby...well, I see the signs."
Not only did Bevere 'see the signs,' she also wanted to act on them. Yet she knew nothing about portrait product lines. Luckily, PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) was there to help her out.
Bevere attended a 3-Day SMS Business Workshop. By the end of it, she felt comfortable moving forward with her new product lines. "By taking the SMS course, I was able to jump into portraiture with a lot fewer cold water goose bumps," she says with a smile. "I knew what kind of cost of sales I'd face and how to price everything we would offer. I rave about SMS to everyone who listens!"
With SMS' help, Bevere was able to shift her work from 98% weddings to an 80-20 split
between weddings and portraits last year. This year, she's on track for a 60-40 split. "My goal is to take less than 10 weddings a year in the next two years and still stay at the same gross," she adds.
However, her success in both the wedding and portrait markets is not what Bevere believes is her biggest accomplishment. Her charitable work is.
Three years ago she started Project Smile, a charitable team that works with HomeSafe, a transition housing project for women and their children who have escaped abusive relationships. During the spring, Bevere, several other photographers and stylists (the Project Smile team) create portraits of the HomeSafe residents. Each mother and child is paired with a stylist for 45 minutes and then has a 45 minute portrait session with a photographer. Bevere and her assistant also create mini-albums of the portraits for the residents.
"The director of HomeSafe said that all the women walk a little taller and feel more alive and beautiful for weeks after that," says Bevere.
That just goes to show that in the right hands, photography is more than art, more than a career--it can make the day a little brighter. Read more about Bevere here.Rhee Bevere Headshot Â© Kim SayreAll Other Images Â© Rhee Bevere