Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Who's in the Crew? - Spotlight on Anita Watkins

NAME: Anita Watkins - https://anitawatkinsphotography.com/
https://headshotcrew.com/anitawatkins

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? I live in London Ontario, Canada. It's a city of about 400,000 people halfway between Toronto and Detroit.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING HEADSHOTS? Almost 7 years ago, I started this journey. Peter was the first photographer I studied under. Since then, I have expanded into personal branding and portraits. I was always grateful that I started with headshots because honestly, it is the hardest to do really well. Once you master that, the rest falls into place so much more easily. Headshots are about connection and expression which translates into any other kind of photography. I always compare it to making a soufflé. On the surface, it seems so easy since there are so few ingredients In reality, it is incredibly difficult since there are so few ingredients. Every mistake is magnified.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT? Personal branding and portraits.

WHAT’S YOUR LIGHTING SETUP FOR HEADSHOTS? I used to use my own "faux kinos" that I built myself.
They were great to use and I had a lot of fun with them. They don't travel well though. I do most of my headshots in my studio and I have fallen in love with the natural light in there. I bounce and subtract light with giant v-flats and it is so much fun to do. Clients are genuinely shocked when they see their images pop up on the computer screen. I do also have Strobepro strobes. They are great because I can use them with their batteries or plugged in. It makes it easy to use when I travel to do headshots. Ultimately light is light. It matters less to me than a connection with the client.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER PH AND THE HSC? It has been almost 7 years since I discovered Peter Hurley. I always loved photography and studied it quite a lot when I was a teenager, but I couldn't afford to pursue it anymore once I went to University. Many years later, my middle child decided that she wanted to audition for local theatre so I told her that I would happily pay a professional for her headshot, but that I would love to try first. If she didn't like them no big deal. I searched the internet for what headshots actually were and most of the ones I saw were just horrible. But there was one style I kept coming across: Peter Hurley. I gave it a shot and my daughter was pleased. A couple of months later, I went to Peter's site and saw that he was about to launch his first online course. A few days later, after not sleeping...I was in. When I talked it over with my husband, I warned him that if I was going to do the course, I was all in. In just over a year with no experience, I made it as an associate. I was a mentor for a period as well.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO JOIN THE CREW AFTER YOU FOUND IT? I was there from the start.

WHAT IS ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU? I am a recovering high school Biology and Chemistry teacher. I did that for 27 years. I started photography as a side business but fell in love with it and three years ago, I took the leap to go fulltime. I hit 6 figures in my business in my first year and never looked back. I love the photography side of it, but I also have fallen in love with being a business owner. I love learning and growing, the friendships I have made and the travel I have been able to do because of my business. I feel so lucky to have had multiple careers that brought me joy in my life.

WHAT'S ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU? I thought my midlife crisis was signing up for hockey lessons when I turned 40. Looks like leaving teaching and starting my own business was ;) I think a little red Miata is next.

19 Comments

Lisa Marie Pane's picture
Associate

Always great to learn more about some of the earliest members of the Crew!

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

Hard to believe I am one of the old ones now;)

Philip Houtekier's picture
Protégé

Awesome work !

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

Thanks so much!

Beth Madison's picture
Protégé

Anita, thank you for your service -- that is, your years as a high school science teacher!!

Great to get acquainted with you, and I love your work!

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

Thanks so much Beth! I loved my teaching career but so many of the skills transferred really well to running my own business and being a photographer. I still have an impact on people's lives:) Thanks for the kind words!

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

In case you are interested in my comments on lighting, the two headshots of the grey haired women were done with natural light in my studio. I use v-flats to manipulate the light and the magic happens. The advantage is that they relax so much faster in front of my camera. I use strobes when I need to (or just want to;) but know that you can get great headshots without expensive equipment.

Tod Eltzroth's picture
Protégé

Cool!

Claudia Hoag's picture
Associate

I love it - it's like making a soufflé!
What a great story and so relatable.
And I thought my midlife crisis was learning to skateboard at 40 (and joining a group of skating moms), nah! Skateboarding doesn't hold a candle to the risks of building a headshot photography business LOL

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

Let's agree that both are pretty awesome;)

Michael Miller's picture
Protégé

Very inspirational work and story. I'm very impressed with the crispness in your images.

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

Thank you for the kind words.

Allan Gojar's picture
Associate

Ah yes, I remember the BFAS and Ph2Pro days with Anita. Seems like a lifetime ago. Keep up the good work!

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

So much fun!

Patric Pop's picture
Associate

Enjoyed reading this, my fellow cool kid ; )

Anita Watkins's picture
Associate

We are so old.....<3

Florence Catania's picture
Protégé

This is great Anita! So cool that you followed your passion and that you are successful. Post pics when you get the Miata!

Cindy Quinn's picture
Associate

Small world, I was born in London, Ontario. I lived there for a couple of years back in 1989. My youngest son was born there. I love your work Anita it's spot on.

Sarah Wilson's picture
Protégé

Congratulation on all your success! I love hearing stories about women who pursued their passion, especially after raising their children!