We had the good fortune of connecting with Yohanna Wendt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yohanna, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
What would you say if I told you that there was a hidden social gap that most people don’t realize exists? I capture memories of so many amazing people and one day I realized the last time I had gotten professional done pictures was when my eldest daughter was one. Thinking back to that memory and so many emotions sprang up. I had a fear. A fear that started when my eldest daughter had her first pictures taken. She wouldn’t smile for the camera no matter how hard we tried to get her to smile and I felt a great amount of pressure to get her to smile for the photographer and the photographer in turn was required to take a certain number of pictures and poses to keep his job. We also had to work around the fact that she couldn’t yet sit up by herself, crawl, or babble even though she was over a year old. It was an experience that I was not happy with and after that I wasn’t keen on ever going through that again. It just wasn’t worth it. How would my daughter be seen or treated, the fact that high sensory situations caused her to regress and took two weeks to recover from, didn’t seem worth the stress of a few pictures. I wanted her to be seen for who she truly was and is and not for her diagnosis. I decided I was done with this fear. I decided I would get pictures done of my whole family now that we were eight strong instead of just three. So, I reached out to some fellow photographers and friends and we all agreed upon a trade. My contribution would be to coach them on certain triggers and things to look out for when photographing a child with special needs and in turn I’d be able to finally get pictures of my family. That is when it hit me on how big the social gap is between the typical and special needs communities. I grew up with a brother who has special needs and now I have a daughter, of my own, who has special needs. I didn’t realize how big the gap was until the coaching session I did with my fellow photographers. I asked if they had any questions by the end of the four sessions and what I heard in response is what made up my mind that I needed to do something. They didn’t have any questions because they didn’t know what to ask. They didn’t have questions because they had no idea what a ‘trigger’ even was. Bridging the gap. Through doing that coaching God gave me an ‘Aha’ moment. I got a hold of my sister who is a neurologic music therapist, one of the best that is out there, and presented her with an opportunity to help bridge the social gap through a photography class. She responded with a resounding yes and expressed her own desires in helping bridge the social gap. And hence the journey began. Using the techniques, she implemented as a therapist, she trained me in how to better support people with special needs and together we created a brand-new technique. This technique is going to change the photography industry and start bridging the social gap between these two wonderful communities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My whole goal in my business is to make a difference in every person’s life that I meet. I love making change for the better. Can you imagine having the chance to help someone see themselves as beautiful, having professional pictures taken without their child regressing, or for the first time feeling beautiful? It can be easy to lose sight of what is truly meaningful in life and sometimes get caught up in the competition of the profession. Staying focused on the heart of my why is what keeps me going. It is okay if my business doesn’t look like everyone else’s. What matters most is the people I serve. My hope is that the people I have worked with and the beautiful clients I serve are given hope and in turn also share that same hope and care to others they meet.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
To start a proper visit you must begin with a theme. We would have to decide if this trip would be a ‘trip down memory lane’ or a ‘trip of new discoveries’! Once that decision is made we would either visit old haunts or completely new places both of us have never been to before!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
None of my journey would have been successful without my Heavenly Father and my wonderfully supportive family and friends. I have been so blessed by each and every one of them. I love each of them. I especially want to thank my absolutely, amazing husband, Geordie. He is my tree to keep me focused and continue on through thick and thin.
Yohanna Wendt Photography, Abrar Khalid Photography