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Meet Eileen and Jeff Walsma of Amazing Shots Photography in Geneva

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eileen and Jeff Walsma.

Eileen and Jeff, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

We like to tease that we are a husband/wife team with competing cameras. How did we get here? I (Eileen) was always the family picture taker, trips – events, all thoroughly documented with hundreds of 35mm photos. Then, on a whim, or maybe it was more of a secret desire to jump to digital (LOL!), I got my husband (Jeff) a DSLR camera. Who knew!? Jeff has a natural eye for capturing images that he didn’t even know he had. And given today’s technology, what might never have left our home found its way to being shared with friends and family on the internet. The amount of support and encouragement we received was so wonderful, we asked ourselves – Should we do this?

So, this has become our retirement gig. I worked 40 wonderful years with a large retail corporation, Jeff as a Hotshot Firefighter and then Carpentry. Both roles play a significant part in our new venture. Retirement just opened the door, enabling us with the gift of time to pursue our passions for travel, photography, and woodworking. Oh, and by the way – since Jeff wouldn’t ‘share’ the new camera, he upgraded mine shortly after… yeah!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We wouldn’t really call it a struggle; however, trying to figure out how to become part of the artist community has been challenging. From picking the right shows to being juried into gallery events has been an ongoing education. We often have to reconnoiter shows to determine ahead of time if we might be a good fit. Then, there is the weather to contend with if the show is going to be outside. Show commitments occur so far ahead and there is obviously no way to know what the weather will be like. We are no wimps, we can handle the weather. Unfortunately, our medium is not a big fan of rain, wind or intense heat. As a result, we are extra appreciative of inside shows and gallery events even though there is often a higher cost to do these types of shows. How to remain accessible price wise after covering show entry fees, jury fees, commissions, etc. – that’s not easy when you are starting out.

We have a lot more to learn as we continue this journey. Not only on how to continuously seek that ‘amazing’ shot, but how to stand out in a world where photography is literally at everyone’s fingertips given the capabilities of today’s cell phones. Given that, why jump into this particular fray? Because we love it – and we hope to share that passion with others and inspire them or simply make them smile.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Amazing Shots Photography – what should we know?
As a team, it doesn’t get any better. We both look for that special shot wherever we go. And between us, often using a different lens, we increase our odds of getting “that” shot. We love the outdoors. We love nature. We have a passion to preserve and protect our environment. Our photography endeavors to capture wildlife in their natural surroundings as well as the wonderful landscapes surrounding us. Of course, there is always that occasionally goofy shot that we cannot resist (check out our critter headshots!). Other passions also become evident, like Jeff’s love of old barns, windmills, cars, as well as black and white photography. He jokes (but he is also serious) that he aspires to be a blend of Ansel Adams and Marlin Perkins. For me, NatGeo will always be an inspiration. We are both always looking for that slightly different perspective in every shot.

Going to market – this is where my business background and Jeff’s woodworking passion come in. Not only do we make frames, we then select the best of the best photography, mat each and then match them to frames or in some cases, match frames to the photography. For example, barn wood has been very popular, and its’ unique personality often dictates the photograph that goes into it.

Jeff’s woodworking talents has led to lathe turned bowls, goblets and candleholders – turning raw wood into art – who knows what is around the corner!  This part of our story has grown so much that we now include wood turned items in all our shows, driven again by great support from our community.  Jeff welcomes studio demo’s and encourages a growing number of people who have expressed an interest in learning how to turn wood.  A passion Jeff is willing to share in a heartbeat!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Where to start? Well, first off, those awesome friends that encouraged us to keep moving forward – they know who they are!  We have also received great support from our community. Water Street Studios and the Artisan Collective in Batavia, IL, as well as the St. Charles Arts Council, have accepted our work into their shows and continue to provide support for many local artisans. Fine Line Creative Arts Center (also in St. Charles, IL), whose mission is to support artists through instruction, exploration, and exhibition of traditional and innovated arts and crafts, not only has a popular holiday show available to its’ members, they have graciously provided us a small presence in their Dempsey Artisan Shop (which currently has work by over 40 artists).
We would be remiss if we did not mention where Jeff sold his first photo, Graham’s 318, a coffee shop in downtown Geneva, IL, where they celebrate local artists by showcasing new works each month.

And lastly, Jennifer Keller, our nominator – she saw something – and those gentle nudges, that is what inspires us to keep moving forward.  We wish her all the best in her endeavors as well!

Now, where should we take the camera’s next…?

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Eileen Walsma, Jeffrey W. Walsma

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Keller

    July 1, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    You guys are awesome! Keep up the “amazing” work!! 🙂

  2. Dean Hatzis

    July 2, 2019 at 1:17 am

    Congratulations Jeff & Eileen.The passion and creativity the both of you have truly is reflected in the work that you do. Keep it up.

    Your friend, Dean

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