By Jackie White
Rita Ann Jana
Rita Jana Photography
We are kicking off a new series where we will be featuring people who are living out their passion in life. Our first person for this series is an incredible woman named Rita Ann Jana.
Rita Ann is a military wife, a mom of three, an incredible photographer and a lover of life! She is the owner of Rita Jana Photography. Rita Ann would tell you that one of her very first passions in life was the theater. Rita Ann worked as a performer in the theater for many years and loved it dearly. She spent six months performing in 38 states on the national tour of Busytown.
When she married a military man and started a family, Rita Ann knew her life would include many moves around the country, making life active in the theater very difficult. Many women face this dilemma in one form or another. Becoming a wife and mother are roles that are supremely important and balancing that with career can be daunting.
More Than One Passion in Life:
Rita Ann has an incredible outlook on this dilemma. She doesn’t look at leaving the theater as abandoning her dream. She says there was a time in her life that the dream of being a performer fit her lifestyle. When that changed, she prepared herself to move on to another passion that she could pursue. Rita Ann firmly believes you don’t have to have just one passion in life. There may be times in your life that allow you to follow one passion but at other times you may need to focus on another.
Finding photography was a blessing for Rita Ann and her family. It was a career that could be flexible with her family’s schedule, was transportable to new cities as they moved, and allowed Rita Ann still to be creative.
When Rita Ann first thought that she might be interested in photography, she needed to explore whether she would enjoy it and that it would work with her family schedule, before she invested significant time. She said for her, it wasn’t the obvious choice because the only photographers she ever knew were men. Because at the time, she didn’t know any women role models in this field, she had no choice but to blaze the trails!
Get Educated. Get Innovative:
Rita Ann had to get innovative about the way she was going to get herself educated and immersed in the photography field. She had three small children at home and one very supportive husband who helped her as she began to follow her (potential) dream.
Since she wanted to really be sure that this was going to work for her, she set out identifying famous photographers located all around the country and spent time learning from them through in-person seminars and workshops. She also took online classes and was in a photography mentoring program. As she began to immerse herself in photography, she soon realized that this was to be her next passion in life. As she honed her skills, she found that having mentors and what she calls “Business Buddies” were, and still are, critical support systems for her to succeed.
This point is a key takeaway for any of you beginning to pursue your passion. Have someone who supports you in the field you are pursuing. Everyone needs a cheerleader and a business resource when you are starting out and as you are established.
Tips on starting your own business
If you are making money, it’s a business, otherwise it’s a hobby.
Rita Ann made a good point when she defined that a business is a venture that makes money. If what you are pursuing is not making a profit and it turns out to be just a hobby, that’s ok too, just know the difference! Great advice for sure!
Rita Ann suggests finding an expert or mentor to study with as she did, to get a full understanding of what you will be experiencing in the field of your choice. She also notes that even if you are following your passion, there will always be aspects that you may not enjoy. Rita Ann explains that in photography there is this awesome ability to be creative and work with all sorts of people. Then there is the business part that includes paperwork, billing, and ordering. She has learned to strike a balance in her business for these differing aspects.
Rita Ann also realized the value of her business shortly after launching her business. She highly recommends really treating your business like a business. Charge what you are worth, protect your assets, manage your time appropriately, factor in the time you want to spend with your kids and work around that as much as you can. Also, ask for help when you need it. For example, if the house isn’t getting clean, maybe you need to hire someone to help you manage that. It’s really ok to get help with stuff like that!
Photography Tips and Tricks for Your Own Photography
Weed out the duplicates. Save the one good photo you took and delete the others.
How to Choose a Photographer
Looking at Photography from a Photographer’s Point of View
Rita Ann is proud to know she is a “memory saver” for others. Capturing impactful moments in the lives of others is a rewarding part of her profession.
Unique Ideas for Photographs That You Can Take of Your Children:
When to Take a Professional Photograph
Note: When choosing clothing for a professional photography session, consult with the photographer about what you should wear. Rita Ann offers a Style Guide for her clients and takes time to review clothing before the shoot, so there aren’t any clashing clothing choices. You do not want to be featured on the Awkward Family Photos website!
Tips for Displaying Your Photos
Rita Ann is a huge fan of taking a long hall or stairwell wall and making it a photo gallery. She suggests using the same or similar style frames, but encourages pics from all ages (baby to current).
A Note of Inspiration
Rita Ann was gracious enough to allow us to interview her for this piece. She was absolutely the best person to kick this series off because she feels very strongly that we all need to follow our passions in life. Rita Ann wanted to share a life changing experience that made her realize that tomorrow is not always guaranteed.
Rita Ann worked at the World Trade Center in New York City and on September 9, 2001 she took a picture of the World Trade Center while giving her friend a tour. Two days later it was destroyed in the 911 tragedy. She realized then just how short life is and that it shouldn’t be wasted. She keeps that photo up as a reminder to keep living life in a purposeful way. She wants to encourage you to realize your passion and go for it full force! Go BIG or go HOME as Rita Ann says. She also keeps the quote above posted on her desk to remind her that now is the time to do what you want in life. Stop putting it off or you may run out of time. Such a great reminder!
Rita Ann started Rita Jana Photography in 2013 and is currently located in West Point, New York, doing some absolutely stunning photography of families, high school seniors, and West Point cadets. You can find her at www.RitaJanaPhotography.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RitaJanaPhotography.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.