SHAYNA HARDY: Judge
Shayna Hardy is a boudoir and branding photographer based in Maryland. She’s an engineer turned entrepreneur and truly found her calling in helping women know that they deserve to be seen. She’s also a proud mama to two energetic boys, 10 and 12 years old. Beyond running her successful studio, she also pursues other entrepreneurial adventures based on helping others to be seen in this world.
I’ve always loved photography, but more so like the actual pictures before they were even before digital. My dad printed our family photographs, and they would often end up in the laundry room or a shoebox somewhere. I would pull out pictures and frame them or put them into those sticky Walgreens albums.
I always appreciated and valued photos themselves, but I never thought of myself as a photographer until I had kids and a real camera. I took a class so that I could take better pictures of my kids. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time, and I just really enjoyed documenting my children and our life as a family.
Then family and friends started asking me to take some pictures for them, and it kind of just grew from there. I grew up with an entrepreneurial dad, so I kind of always felt like I would do my own thing at some point. That was about ten years ago, and my business grew slowly from there.
This is my fourth career, essentially. I started in engineering, moved into public education, went to nonprofit teaching adults, and then got into photography. There’s no right or wrong way to get into the industry. You can start when you’re young, when you graduate high school, or you can start when you’re in your 30s or 40s or 50s. There’s no right or wrong way to jump into the industry, which is a good thing.
I started off photographing babies and families because that’s the stage of life I was in. And then, about five years ago, I started looking into women’s portraits and beauty portraits. I had my session because I didn’t want to offer something that I hadn’t yet experienced.
And then, about two years ago, I started focusing almost exclusively on boudoir—90% of my business is boudoir. I still photograph families and personal branding, primarily for women, but my main focus is boudoir.
I love seeing the transformation of women. And in my personal life, I was going on my self-reflection journey. I was going through a divorce and trying to figure out who I was without somebody else. I felt a deep connection to that and helping women figure that out too. Boudoir is just one way of seeing yourself differently.
Monica and I met through the Maryland Professional Photographers Association. We had attended conferences together, stayed in touch, become friends, and each other’s business accountability partners. We’ve always encouraged each other both in business and life.
We could consider ourselves competitors because we both do boudoir photography, but we live two hours from each other, and we certainly believe that there’s enough business to go around. We help each other out.
I was attracted to being a judge for the Association because things like this motivate the industry to raise the standard, build each other up, and help each other in business.
It’s an opportunity to give back to other photographers. The Association is a place for photographers who have been in business for a while or are just starting out. It’s a safe space where we can all share, encourage, and constructive criticism to build up the industry.
I’m excited to see other people’s work for the competition and have a positive place for people to learn from each other—whether for their photography skills or business.
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