Today we’d like to introduce you to Velvet Lenae Berry.
Velvet Lenae, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Early on, my family referred to me as “the family historian.” They always looked for me to have the camera at events and get-togethers. And I didn’t have an actual camera. I kept disposable cameras around and would take it to the local store to have the film developed. I never thought that it would become a professional passion of mine. It’s funny because when I look back, there was always a photography path that I never fully paid attention to.
While in the military, I learned Photoshop from a fellow NCO. I noticed he was working on something on his computer and I started asking him questions. He was open to answering and showing me some things. I was immediately interested and continued learning on my own. My Path was slowly being established, but there were still missing pieces.
Ironically, during my Walmart career, I became a Department Manager over the Photo Lab. Not because of photography experience, but because of managerial experience. At this time, I still never thought about becoming a Professional Photographer. I started talking to one of the part-time associates, Timberly and found out that she was a Photographer and her main focus was weddings. Timberly asked if I wanted to shadow and assist her. Learn the ropes. I took her up on the offer.
I continued assisting Timberly with other weddings and learned so much more. As time went on, I finally bought my first professional camera. At that point, it became clear that I wanted to be a Professional Photographer. I studied under Timberly until I moved from Atlanta, GA to Charlotte, NC. Once I moved there, I took photography classes and I asked several people to be my muse, while I learned.
I started a family, later moved to Tampa, FL and Sencere Moments Photography (SM Photography) was established. I became a Professional Photographer and a Business Woman/Entrepreneur, all at once. The biggest thing that changed was that I decided not to continue with weddings. My main focus while living in Tampa, catered to Portraiture, Senior Portraits, Model Portfolios and Boudoir.
When I moved back to Atlanta, I scoped out my competition, which was very different from Tampa. I realized I needed to step my game up times 10. I took more classes, self-studied, took on more muses and I practiced, practiced, practiced.
SMPhotography continued to grow strong, but with more experience. It changed slightly by focusing more on Portraiture, Senior Portraits, Head Shots, Engagement and Boudoir. Specializing in Lifestyle imagery, my vision is to capture natural and candid moments, which visually shows my client(s) who they are. Marketing was also added. I love Marketing shoots because I love creatively collaborating with business owners to enhance their Brand and bringing my artistic eye into it. I love the fact that they’re choosing my art to represent their Brand.
Toward the end of 2013, I created Secretly Sexy and Skin-ful Ways as an extension of SMPhotography. Secretly Sexy delves into the world of Boudoir Imagery, giving my clients the opportunity to show how beautiful and sexy everyday life and glamorous moments can truly be. Skin-ful ways takes this idea a step further, connecting to the more playful, uncensored, “naked truth” aspect of people and their lives.
Bringing a larger focus to Boudoir became very tricky. It became apparent that I needed to separate Boudoir from the rest of my photography because while there were some customers that embraced both Portrait/Business side AND my Boudoir side, some did not want to see the two types of imagery in one place. Although there are hints of both sides throughout SMPhotography, the deeper part of my Boudoir side separated from the rest.
In the Summer of 2014, I started working on my book, which includes erotic short stories and poems that I wrote, coupled with imagery taken by me. Bare It All was released October of 2014.
Bare It All opened up a whole new world for my photography, but I also rediscovered my love for writing.
I decided to rebrand. NOT Velvet Lenae Photography. I don’t want people to get that confused. Just Velvet Lenae. I not only consider myself a Photographer, but I now want people to see me as an Artist. More than my photography, I want people to visually see and feel everything that I do. I am a Multifaceted Artist.
As a Mother, Photographer and Author, there are so many life aspects that I can relate to. Being a Multifaceted Artist, my visions never end. My passion and love for photography shows through everything I do.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. Marrying the business of photography and being an artist is probably the hardest. As an artist, you want more than anything to just create art and for people to accept and understand it. Adding the business perspective, can sometimes take the passion out of it and/or hinder your creativity because it can become frustrating and overwhelming. I don’t want the business of it all to supersede my art and creativity. It’s scary to possibly lose my art, in the business world.
Social Media also frustrates me. Social Media hinders artists from being as expressive as we would like. On the other hand, for Bare It All, it gives my audience something more to look forward to in my books. They might be thinking, if she’s sharing something this risqué, yet subtle online, what does the book include. Then I have those that just can’t bear to see any skin and I run the risk of my images being reported. I tread lightly these days when it comes to posting my art because I have been in “Facebook Jail” several times and Instagram shut down one of my pages. The current Bare It All page is my 2nd Instagram page. I had to start all over and rebuild my audience.
I have also had family message me and tell me that they can’t support the erotic side of my photography. Everyone is not as accepting of the Erotic Photography. I understand and by no means am I trying to force it on anyone.
Everyone is not going to embrace my new journey and I’m fine with that. I’ve accepted who I am, by adding the sexual side of my art. I want others to not be afraid to talk about sex and what they like. Be open, express it and don’t judge others for what they like.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am an Artist (Photographer and Author). While I continue to shoot General Portraiture and Marketing, Bare It All has taken on a life of its own. Being an Erotic Photographer and Author is what I’m known for now. The Erotic side definitely separates me from the masses. I’m constantly told that I’m bold and brave. I’m proud that I am open and more accepting of myself than I’ve ever been. I love being able to express what I want, how I want and not care nor be bothered by what others think. I love sharing my art and views with the world. I want others to be inspired to do the same. Don’t let the judgment of the world and society’s standard stop your creativity.
My most recent and also the proudest moment in my photography career was having my First, Annual Erotic Art Show (March 17, 2017).
There were a lot of personal ups and downs during that time and I almost felt like it wouldn’t happen. I almost canceled it a couple times…. but it not only sold out, it was a success and people are looking forward to seeing more from me in the future. I look forward to providing more for my audience that continues to follow my journey.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Although vague and short, some of my favorite memories would have to be the time I spent with my grandma. She was very funny and the personal time that we spent together were meaningful. She didn’t treat me like a child. She talked to me as if we were on the same mental level and pulled no punches. No holding back. There was so much love in the memories I have of her.
- Website: www.velvetlenae.com
- Phone: 6785510141
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/smphotography_v and www.instagram.com/bareitall.live_
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/smphotographyllc
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/smphotography_v and www.twitter.com/bareitall_live
- Other: www.velvetlenae.com/bareitall