For Brea McAnally, a lifetime love of photography started with a simple desire to help people tell their stories.
"It was just a genuine interest in people," McAnally said. "I went to school for psychology, and I was really interested in social work and counseling; I feel like that was my window. I was always doing sketch portraits for my friends and family; I remember as young as 7 sketching portraits of my little sister's stuffed animals. Photography was a blend of those two--a different way of storytelling."
As owner and primary photographer for Brea Photography, McAnally has been helping St. Louis families capture moments and share stories since 2007. McAnally and her staff provide a wide range of photography services, including birth, newborn, family portraits, engagement and wedding photos and more. McAnally enjoys the broad range of ages and subject matters they capture, which she says helps to keep their work fresh.
"I think the difference between photographing adults and newborns and kids is being really, really aware of their comfort level," McAnally said. "I always tell parents when we're preparing for a photo shoot, half the time should be spent making the kids comfortable and making sure they're having fun."
Being comfortable might mean accommodating a newborn's feeding schedule during the photo shoot, for example, which Brea Photography does free of charge. Doing the photo shoot in the family's natural surroundings is important as well.
"I've photographed in the City Museum, which is always a blast, and the downtown library is a great location too, but I also enjoy photographing in families' homes and their favorite parks; it's their world that they're sharing, " McAnally said. "With places that feel familiar, all of them kind of have that spot, that corner, that place where they feel free."
Just as McAnally tells her clients' stories through her work, she tells her own stories through the way she manages her business. As co-founders of the nonprofit The Luminary, McAnally and her husband James help support and raise awareness of work done by artists from around the world. McAnally also founded the Off-White Indie Wedding Show, which highlights eco-friendly wedding practices, and works closely with her staff to minimize their environmental footprint by using digital cameras and proofs, rechargeable batteries, eco albums and recycled gear.
"For me, I think that the ethos of a business is a full concept: It has to be who we are and what our values are, not only in the photographs we take but the way we operate," she said. "It's a full commitment to showing our values through our business, trying to make the lowest impact and always giving back where we can."
Brea Photography is located at 2701 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 63118. For more information or to book a session call 314-865-0799.
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