Late-blooming photographer keeps her eye on big picture

Theresa Chalmers of Limitless Photography makes cake stands for a birthday shoot. Cathy Dobson

Money is one way to measure success at business, says Theresa Chalmers, owner of Limitless Professional Photography.

But for her, success is also about the creative process that goes into her photo sessions and the connections made with clients.

Sure, you need to pay the rent, but finding satisfaction from work is just as important, says Chalmers.

“To me, success is talking to the kids after a family photo shoot and they tell me they had fun and would do it again,” she said.

“Success is taking an idea and making a photo session really personal.  It’s producing something that people can’t wait to put up on their walls or in their photo albums.”

On Oct. 1, Chalmers will move her studio into a much larger space at 105 Mitton St. S. to accommodate all the services she offers.

It’s a sign her three-year-old photography business is successful enough to take to the next level, she said.

She needs the room for the growing stock of props and costumes she draws upon to create unique shoots, both in and out of the studio.

“I try to stay away from super-posed photos but it’s whatever they want,” she said. “I can MacGyver anything.”

Chalmers, 50, enrolled in the digital photography program at Lambton College in her mid-40s.  Prior to that, she worked in numerous fields, from managing a gas station to delivering balloons, driving a forklift and being a personal support worker.

Then, she became ill and struggled with deep depression, she said.

“I needed something to pull me out of it and I thought about what I love. I’ve always had a camera and I’m driven by ideas, so I signed up for photography classes in 2016.”

A year into the two-year course, Chalmers decided she was ready to go into business on her own.

She knew the local photography market was highly competitive, so she set out to make a name for herself by volunteering to shoot charitable and entertainment events.

“I built my portfolio,” she said.

She then assembled a team of graphic design experts, face painters and entertainers. They assist with her shoots by constructing sets, collecting and making props, and assembling costumes.

The afternoon we met, Chalmers was preparing cake stands for the birthday of one-year-old twins. The theme was “lumberjack wild thing,” so Chalmers took microwave plate covers and surrounded them with wreathes of birch tree branches and moss.

It’s going to be a smash party shoot, a popular choice these days where the little ones demolish their cake while the camera records the fun.

Chalmers says she keeps her prices “on the lower side” to match the Sarnia market.

A one-hour family shoot starts at $125. Newborn sessions begin at $150. Wedding packages start at $1,000 and a professional headshot costs $60 – $100.

Chalmers likes doing fine art portraits, using editing programs with special effects.  Those sessions start at $175.

She also offers maternity photography, special event documentation, staff photos, and has done photo artwork for several album covers, including those for Eric Ethridge, Roundhouse and Dylan Burk.

She’s introduced the concept of “In the Box” photos to Sarnia. Customers pose in a four-foot by four-foot wooden frame in various costumes and with props. Four and nine photos are stacked on one another, like a “Brady Bunch” arrangement for those who remember the opening credits of the old TV show.

“You can do anything you want in the boxes,” said Chalmers.  “It’s something fun and it’s affordable.”

Currently, she’s offering back-to-school In the Box packages for $35.

Limitless Professional Photography moves to 105 Mitton St. South on Oct. 1.  An open house is planned for Saturday, Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Call 519-331-2752 or visit tclimitlessphotography.ca or log on to Facebook @limitlessphotosarnia.

Got a great idea for a business story?  Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca