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Compass Conversations: Maggie Takes Pix

 

If I've ever met a champion for women and small business, it's Maggie McCanna. Her most memorable moment (read below!) nearly brought tears to my eyes. The joy and amazement she brings to the women she works with is truly inspiring.


Each month, we'll take you on a journey through the unique stories, passions, and dreams that drive our local entrepreneurs. These are the stories behind the logos and social media posts, the spirited souls enriching our daily lives with their craft and dedication.

 
A couple standing by a blue mustang
Photography by Maggie Takes Pix

What inspired you to start your business?

We always took lots of pictures as I was growing up. Every family gathering. Every state or attraction “welcome” sign on summer road trips (with us standing next to it, of course). Posing next to pretty flowers or interesting trees…. While a lot of these pictures stayed in their envelopes (the kind you got back from the film developer/printer), many were put in photo albums. Those albums weren’t exactly photo-friendly, however. I took up scrapbooking and taught “creative” photo preservation for over ten years.


During these classes and workshops, I noticed that a lot of the women making their family photo books were not in very many of the pictures. They were usually the ones taking the pictures, and they didn’t like the less-than-flattering pictures that others had taken of them. After more than a few people asked if I were a professional photographer – and the gift of my first “nice” digital camera from my brother – I determined that all the mother/family photo historians needed a beautiful photograph of themselves that they love.


I wanted to deliver photos worthy of framing and hanging on the wall or sitting on the mantle or at least placing them in a scrapbook along with all the other

images deemed special enough to preserve.


How does your business contribute to the local community?

I provide custom portrait sessions and create images that reflect my clients the way they want to seen – a process that lifts the spirits of those who experience it. And I believe sharing these photos helps bring people closer together. It’s a way for people to get to know each other.


I’ve also made a point of celebrating and supporting my local community, especially nonprofits, whenever and however I can, with two favorites being Second Stage Amherst and Amherst Woman’s Club.


Can you share a memorable experience or success story related to your business?

A former co-worker absolutely hated being photographed - at any event or for any reason. She would literally put her arm up in front of her face and turn away from the camera. One day, she called. She was ready for me to photograph her. And not just a simple headshot or beauty portrait: a boudoir shoot. We were going from NO photos to the most intimate of photos!


I helped her prepare for her at-home session and guided her through every pose and prompt, and her inner supermodel came out to play that afternoon. She knew she wanted an album for her husband, but she didn’t want to help pick the proofs. Given her history with pictures, I agreed to put it together myself.


When the day came to share it, we sat next to each other on her couch, and I handed her the book. She slowly turned each page until she got to the first two-page spread of her laying diagonally across the bed with a playful little smile… and she stopped.


That’s when I noticed she was crying. I asked what was wrong. “Nothing,” she replied. “It’s just… I’ve never felt so beautiful before. And I look beautiful in these pictures.” It didn’t matter that people told her she was pretty, attractive, and worthy for all those years. It wasn’t until she’d had a chance to experience it that she could finally see it, too.


What challenges have you faced in building your business, and how have you overcome them?

Mine is a “luxury” business. With good-quality phone cameras and more than a few other photographers in the market, many people see the industry more as a commodity than a craft.


Showing the value of hiring a seasoned photographer comes with providing a more elevated experience and providing a quality souvenir that lasts.


What makes your business unique? 

Maggie Takes Pix specializes in women’s portraits, from business and branding to beauty and boudoir. Women tend to be critical of their appearance, so I’ve made a point of studying flattering poses and use kind lighting to help them look their best.


Yes, I photograph families, men, some weddings… but my focus is on women, from young middle schoolers who could use a self-esteem boost, to high school seniors about to fly the nest, to brides glowing in anticipation of their big day, to mothers (of all ages) who perhaps need to be reminded how beautiful and appreciated they really are, and especially grandmothers who are ready to share

their stories and celebrate their life and legacy.


What advice would you give to other small business owners who are just starting out?

Invest in professional photography that is unique to your business. Stock imagery can look inauthentic. People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Let your potential clients see the real you and your real business. Also, “selfies” do not look professional.


If you want customers to take your business seriously and invest in you, you need to invest in you, too.


How do you see your business evolving in the future?

My business has evolved to better match my strengths to my clients’ needs and desires, and I imagine this will continue. Some things are constant: providing clean, classic imagery.


Do you have a special message that you'd like to share with the community through this article?

I believe that all women deserve to exist in photos. Once the kids leave home, those few photographs that mothers appear in become even fewer. For many, their youngest’s wedding was the last time they had a professional portrait taken. I want women’s lives and stories to be documented and celebrated at every age and stage.

Comments


Photo of the owner and her husband who live in Madison Heights VA

Hi, I'm Michelle

I'm the owner of County Compass, and an Amherst County resident. 

I love our community and want to help new homeowners find all the local gems that may not get enough exposure on social media.

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