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Business View – February 2022 / Small Business of the Month
For more than a decade, L.A. Fotographee has created memories and connected with the community from behind L.A. Alston’s camera lens.
For some, photography is a hobby or, at best, a way to earn a few extra dollars while dedicating full-time attention to more stable professions. That might have been all Lemaris “L.A.” Alston’s association with the craft was meant to be, save for one thing: passion.
For more than a decade, the Theodore native has created memories and connected with the community from behind his lens. And though he has always been a dedicated employee – most recently working in the Mobile Area Chamber’s IT department for nine years – his client pool has steadily grown since 2011 and, just before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he made the decision to strike out on his own.
L.A. Fotographee is the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month.
Although hanging his own shingle was a calculated decision, Alston said he wasn’t worried because a deep faith lies at the heart of his passion.
“God had already prepared me for the process,” he said. “I wasn’t scared because I’d already set the foundation of my plan in stone, and it was time for executing it.”
Being a Chamber employee who evolved into a Chamber member helped him with the structure of that plan, which manifested into L.A. Fotographee. Alston recently graduated from the Minority Business Accelerator program, born out of a partnership with the University of South Alabama Melton Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Alston’s days are as varied as his clients. One might be packed with back-to-back portrait sessions in his studio, while others might find him traveling to one of several industrial clients, such as Airbus, for corporate imagery.
He refers to his business as “capturing happiness,” and thanks to his easygoing, gregarious nature, he creates quite a bit of happiness along the way, as well. That’s one of several reasons he created the nonprofit Bounce Back Youth Leadership Foundation in 2008. The mentorship program teaches schoolchildren about technology as well as photography and how to start their own businesses once they graduate.
The genesis of the idea came from discussions between Alston and his wife, Jamelah, who is from Colorado and grew up witnessing the benefits of community involvement and philanthropy. They started the foundation together and have fostered it ever since.
Theirs is an all-consuming partnership, as the couple also works together and are currently building a new house which will include a separate studio for L.A. Fotographee and a graphic design company the two also created together.
“We hope to have it completed by March,” Alston said. “And I’m super ecstatic about that.”
COMPANY NAME: L.A. Fotographee
OWNER: Lemaris “L.A.” Alston
LENGTH OF CHAMBER MEMBERSHIP: 10 years
Click here to read the Business View – February 2022
Additional information is on the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s website at mobilechamber.com, on Facebook at @MobileChamber, Instagram at @mobile-area-chamber and Twitter at @MobileChamber.