Open since: 2001
Owner: Julie Perdue
SUWANEE -- In about 20 years as a photographer, Julie Perdue has learned from just about every aspect of the industry.
Perdue, who owns Main Street Photography, began shooting pictures of her kids in the days of film in the early 1990s. She then partnered with a friend for about five years, but has worked for herself for nearly 10. Perdue has watched the industry evolve from film to amateur shooters with powerful cameras, and has learned the nooks and crannies of operating a small business out of her home.
Perdue's business looks to cater to families in the sense she would shoot pictures of babies, high school senior portraits, weddings and 50-year wedding anniversaries.
"It may be four or five years, and then they come back and they say, 'Oh my God, that picture you did for us is still hanging on the way, we love it, everybody sees it,'" she said. "They've got a whole wall of the pictures we've done. That's really cool."
In the early days, Perdue helped a company shoot school pictures, but she quickly bristled at the notion of shuttling subjects through, diluting creativity. Soon after that, her business partner stepped down, and in 2001, Perdue started on her own.
"This is all I know how to do," Perdue said to herself at the time. "Plus, I lived in Suwanee, and I knew big changes were coming to Suwanee, so I thought this would be the perfect place to be."
Perdue has trained through a course from the New York Institute of Photography, and took classes from the Southeastern Center for Photographic Arts in Atlanta.
Perdue supplements her income with two part-time jobs, but works photography assignments seven days a week.
As technology has advanced, Perdue said the ripple effect has been amateurs taking on major assignments like weddings, yet charging a fraction of the price. While quality often suffers, she said amateurs might also get in binds because of lack of experience.
"I dig my heels in for weddings," she said. "It's so important, I work so hard, and I'm not going to give it away. I've kept my price point where I want it, and what that means is I don't do as many. But I'd rather do an amazing job for somebody, and them spend more, than do twice as many, and not do them as professionally."
Perdue said she couldn't comprehend how people spend $40 per plate on food, but decline to spend $3,000 for a photographer.
"The food will be gone, the alcohol will be gone, the flowers will be gone," she said. "But you'll have these pictures."
Perdue refined her skills in school shooting with slides and film. It's sharpening those details that the auto-focus generation has missed.
"If you have the exposure off, you know it, because it forced you to shoot right," she said. "I'm glad I have that background. You can have very very artistic, creative people that don't know anything about it. They can do a great job, and they don't need to know what they're doing."
About a year and a half ago, Perdue moved her business home after she had rented space in Old Town.
Like many small business owners who expanded their trade from a hobby, Perdue wishes she had earned a business degree, and charged more in the beginning. If her business blossoms, Perdue said she could move back to Old Town, or even Town Center.
Perdue said she's saddened by studios closing because of the econonmic downturn, and the notion of a "town photographer" going away.
Recently, she's expanded from babies and weddings to commercial and business photography, something she wished she had started earlier in her career. Ultimately, she said her business has survived because she's easily motivated.
"I'm insane," she said. "I don't give up, and I know I'm good at it."