Colleen Nedrow’s professional photography journey began in the early 1990s working at mall photography studios. At many of her sessions with young families, she watched parents struggle with bringing their children in and helping them feel comfortable. “Every mom that came in with a less than willing toddler told me ‘I wish I didn’t have to leave my house to get this done,’” Colleen said.
These experiences inspired Colleen to start a traveling photography studio, called Portraits by C.C., which she founded in 1997. Colleen brought the photography studio to her clients’ living rooms, so parents did not have to leave the house to get high quality photos of their children.
As digital cameras became more popular and more people had access to at-home photography, Colleen pivoted her business. In 2004, she renamed her business to Payton’s Photography after her daughter and moved her business from an in-home service to a boutique couture studio.
Today, Colleen offers high end couture photography sessions for children and families at her studio in Batavia, Illinois. She has a client closet with custom couture dresses and suits for her photo shoots.
During the COVID shutdown, Colleen closed her business. “We stayed closed to keep people safe but doing so hurt us,” Colleen said. “We still had to pay our rent, we still had our bills to cover, [and] payroll to make.”
In 2021, Colleen received a small business loan from Allies for Community Business. “A4CB was there to help me survive those months where nothing was coming in,” Colleen said. “I was able to use the funding to keep my business going and come out ahead.”
Colleen employs her two children part-time to help during shoots. She also contracts with three hair and makeup artists to work with her clients as needed. “They are the reason I can add magic to my sessions and my clients’ experiences,” she said. Looking ahead, Colleen hopes to expand to a bigger client closet in 2023. “I want clients to be able to walk into my studio, be dressed by us to the nines, and walk out with an amazing experience,” Colleen said. “I freeze time. I create memories. I want to up it to a level they have never seen before.”