We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Neff and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Andrea, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my business happened so gradually and so naturally. I’d been slowly taking on more and more freelance photography work since college, until I was working full time at a 9-5 job as an in-house photographer for a mattress company as well as running my own show on the side. I’ve always felt drawn to jobs that were service-oriented, and additionally I loved that my photography introduced me to new people on an almost daily basis. With the support of my old coworkers, I took the leap in April 2021 and haven’t looked back! My photography business is truly centered around what I love most — bringing others joy and flexing my creative muscle. Not to mention how empowering it is to have reclaimed my time and proved to myself how absolutely capable I am. I keep saying I’m waiting for someone to shake me and tell me I’m not allowed to be my own boss, but so far so good!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My photography is really centered around the “why” behind weddings — I want my clients to look at their images and feel like they truly see themselves. I have a degree in journalism from Arizona State, where I practiced creating media while largely taking a backseat during events. It feels extremely natural to me to loop that back into my wedding photography today — the photos shouldn’t be the memory! I never want to distract clients from fully experiencing their day.

A big part of who I am stems from my small town, midwestern roots. I grew up in rural Illinois in a place where everyone knows everyone, you’re always connected in some way. You look out for each other because that’s what community means, and now I really love bringing my clients into my own community the same way. The people I grew up with would never hesitate to drop everything to help you, and were always genuinely interested in how you were. Being neighborly is just in my nature, and I think that positively impacts how I run my business.

And no, it hasn’t been all sunshine branching out on my own (even though there’s plenty of that here in AZ). I was really intimidated by the city when I first moved and was incredibly homesick for the community I loved. But especially through this job I’ve met so many incredibly kind individuals who make me feel like I have my own little community here, without something as defined as county lines. It’s sometimes scary to know I’m technically doing this alone — I have to create my schedule, juggle information, manage finances, and make all the big decisions, but the people who love me and the people I’ve served really keep me chugging away. I don’t think I could ever work a more fulfilling job.

It’s so hard to describe how I feel about this brain child of mine, but it really is like a baby — I made this with my own two hands. I pour so much of myself into this every day, so its ups and downs feel incredibly personal. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a big nature girl, but not so much in the way of hiking long distances. So many of my favorite photography locations are spots I’d recommend — Usery Mountain Regional Park, Desert Botanical Garden, Lost Dutchman State Park, White Tank Mountains. My fiancé and I love to frequent breweries, especially Pedal Haus in Tempe and AZ Wilderness in Phoenix. I honestly just love our neighborhood in Tempe and its hodge podge of houses and plants — it’s the perfect place to go for a walk or bike ride. We lived here while in college at ASU and it still feels so homey. There’s nothing like an evening walk when the sky is colorful and all the neighbors come outside to enjoy the cooler temperature. I’m also really into live music, and we especially like to see shows at smaller venues like The Van Buren, Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar, and The Rebel Lounge.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to credit my wonderful fiancé, Chris, for never being anything but 100% on board with my ideas and didn’t even blink when I said I wanted to quit my day job in pursuit of my business.

My parents, who have also instilled in me the courage to do anything I wanted, and supported me when I moved from Illinois to Arizona 7 years ago to attend college.

And all my amazing photographer friends in the Arizona community who pushed me to take the leap to full time, and who never stop lifting each other up.

Images Credit:

Lauren Peachie

Website: www.andrea-neff.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/andrea.neff.photos/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrea.neff.photos

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