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Capturing the perfect moment

Senior Marissa Alvarez to continue photography business while attending University of Arkansas

Senior+Marissa+Alvarez+takes+photos+for+a+fellow+student.
Senior Marissa Alvarez takes photos for a fellow student.

Senior Marissa Alvarez takes photos for a fellow student.

Photo by Marissa Redding

Photo by Marissa Redding

Senior Marissa Alvarez takes photos for a fellow student.

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A glass door opens and a bell chimes as two girls enter a coffee shop in Downtown Dallas. After they purchase their drinks, the two decide to take photos of themselves. Senior Marissa Alvarez reaches in her bag and takes out her camera, asking the other girl to pose. After a couple of shots, they stop to enjoy their hot drinks.

Marissa began taking photos during eighth grade yearbook and discovered portrait photography during her freshman year. Her business started after she shared photos of senior Claire Marrone on social media and received praise for them.

“When I first started, it didn’t even cross my mind that it would turn into anything but a hobby of mine,” Marissa said. “I was so excited going through the transformation into a business mainly because I loved the idea that I could get paid for something I loved to do.”

At the age of 15, her aunt, Cathy Alvarez, taught her basic camera settings including ISO, shutter speed and aperture. This eventually led to Marissa shooting on manual where she has complete control of the camera. Her aunt moved to Michigan and was unable to continue teaching Marissa, but her joy for photography stayed.

“I couldn’t imagine running a successful photography business at such a young age, and I am constantly in awe of the beautiful work she creates,” Cathy said. “[She’s] truly a beautiful person inside and out and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my niece.”

Because Marissa’s photography business has grown tremendously throughout the past year, she decided to make a website using her graphic design experience from yearbook. She started out using a Canon Rebel t5i with a kit lens, but eventually upgraded to the Canon Mark iii 5D with a 35mm lens to have clearer photos.

“I loved all the pictures [my aunt] took,” Marissa said. “I loved making those memories and things like that so I decided to put forth my money for a camera.”

Marissa allows her clients to choose two locations of their choice, four outfits and one of two packages. The more expensive package is approximately an hour long with 80 digital pictures while the smaller package is about 30 minutes long with 40 digital pictures. The price varies depending on package choice and individual circumstances.

“I personally think her price is definitely reasonable,” junior Mayra Zavala said. “For the quality in how they turned out and her professionalism, it’s definitely worth paying for.”

During the photoshoot, Marissa works with her clients and allows them to pose as they please while helping them get out of their comfort zones. While clients may not know her personally, they will feel more relaxed about the photoshoot as time goes on because she creates conversations and builds relationships.

“Marissa helps you step out of your comfort zone and really makes you feel great about yourself,” Mayra said. “While she’s taking pictures of you, she gives you good comments. She understood it was my first time doing a photoshoot and so she helped me be more comfortable.”

Marissa will be continuing her photography business while attending the University of Arkansas, where she will be majoring in business and marketing to aid in her photography and videography.

“I definitely want to continue doing portraits,” Marissa said. “Whether it be seniors I also do couples, weddings, dogs, literally anything I’ll take pictures of. I just love being behind the camera. I’m definitely going to do [photography]. That’s what I’m hoping to do as a career.”

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Capturing the perfect moment