Rod and Stephanie Oman, husband-and-wife owners of Burnsville-based portrait photography studio the Imagery, are celebrating 20 years in business in 2018 in the face of growing competition — from smartphone cameras.
They emphasize educating customers about the value of having a photo album or portrait that will last for generations. That effort includes Stephanie Oman’s book, “Prepare for Your Perfect Portrait,” to help consumers get the most out of working with a professional photographer.
“Pixels are for shares, portraits are preserving,” said Rod Oman, a seven-time Twin Cities Photographer of the Year who also has been Minnesota Photographer of the Year.
Rod Oman, CEO and photographer of the Imagery, purchased the former Ted Hain’s Photography in 1998. That home-based studio, founded in 1989, came with a backyard “portrait park.” The Omans’ additions to the outdoor space include a pond, waterfalls and a variety of set pieces.
The Imagery offers wedding, family, baby and high school senior portraits as well as pet and model photography and professional headshots, said Stephanie Oman, vice president of marketing and portrait consultant. She is launching a “Model Boot Camp” this year to train aspiring models.
The Omans also are expanding their use of video to market the Imagery online. They also will offer tips on producing online videos, which they hope will generate referrals.
Q: What’s helped you get to 20 years in business?
Stephanie: To never stop learning is one of the bigger keys. We’ve been adapting to the changing demands of instantaneous and digital options and giving people different ways to enjoy their images while still coming back to the importance of creating that printed piece.
Rod: You always have to be changing things up, creating something new. If you’re excited about it then your clients will get excited.
Q: How do you compete in an age of smartphone cameras and selfies?
Rod: In almost every profession there’s three things that you go for: price, quality and service. Many of them are going for cheap prices and then forgetting the service afterward. We’re more expensive, but we give you a lot better service afterward.
Q: How do you manage working as spouses?
Stephanie: I talk to other spouses in business and ask them this question. They seem to agree that it’s important to keep your zones of genius very defined and separate. And be clearly communicating with one another what your roles and expectations are. Whenever we have little bumps in the road it’s clearly because we’ve been on different pages as far as who needs to do what and where does it fall on the priority list.