Lights, Camera, StoryNov 20, 2023 11:26PM ● By Bethany Good
When did you last hold a printed and framed photograph in your hands? That feeling is one of the reasons why Shané K Gooding started her own photography business, Imiivo Photo Studios. With a focus on empathy, curiosity, and love for her craft, she can find a new story in every portrait she takes. In each session, her goal is to give her clients the space to be themselves. “I love photography because it allows me to let someone else have the spotlight. I like to help my clients connect with themselves so they can feel seen and heard.”
Shané lives and breathes art. “I was always interested in the connection between story and image. I would spend hours looking through the photo albums and imagining life before I came around.” Her natural curiosity, intelligence, and love of learning earned her a spot at New York University studying film and television. Working at studios like Miramax and Dreamworks allowed her to gain experience and sharpen her skills. Later, she received a master’s degree in Mass Communication and an MFA in Photography. As she worked toward a career in academia, she continued to hone her craft as a visual artist.
When her mother passed away in 2009, Shané was devastated. “I grieved for a long time because I didn’t know how to navigate the world without her.” Desperate for something of her mother’s to hold on to, she searched her childhood home for family photos. When she didn’t find many pictures of her mother, regret bloomed in her chest.
“I wished I had more time with her, and I wanted more photos of her in the lastseason of her life. But mothers are often behind the camera capturing those special memories.” Years later, Shané realized she could help others by memorializing their legacy through portraits. “It gives people something tangible. They can treasure these timeless photographs of their loved ones.”
Opening your own business isn’t easy, but for Shané, the risks were even more extraordinary. She had just gone through a financially disastrous divorce when COVID hit in 2020. To make matters worse, the college she had been teaching at chose not to renew her position as a professor. She was now a single mother without a source of income. “It was the most challenging period of my adult life. I had a 17-month-old son that I needed to provide for. I even had to sell baby toys to make ends meet.”. It was a scary time, but she was determined to make it work. “It was always my dream to have my own photography studio. I got to the point in my life that I realized I had to do it sooner rather than later.”
One of her specialties is taking generational photos, especially with mothers and daughters.
Shané recalls a mother and daughter duo who booked a portrait session with her. Jane was exceptionally hesitant to get in front of the camera. “My goal was to make her feel comfortable. I ordered her a gown, and we had a make-up artist style her.” Jane was nervous on the shoot day, but she eventually relaxed. The moment of truth came afterward when Jane held the printed and framed photo in her hand. It was clear that Jane was moved. “With tears in her eyes, she said to me, ‘I will always have this memory with my daughter.’”
What’s next for Shané? She’s working on a new project called “The Portrait Conversation Series.” During the 75-minute session, each participant will receive a high-end magazine-style photo session and a complimentary photo print. Participants are encouraged to share their journeys with openness and honesty. “The series' purpose is to allow participants to share a monumental lesson that shifted them into becoming who they are today. We can learn something if we listen and give space. I want to help others grow in compassion.”
For Shané, becoming a professional photographer has been both challenging and healing in equal measure. She has overcome a lifetime of obstacles to make her dream a reality. Shané can use her passion for people, creative talents, and unique insights to capture each individual with compassion and love. “I’m grateful to be doing this. I love the stories behind the photographs. It's beautiful.”