CHESTER-Anita Hopwood remembers the days of Polaroids, 110 film and disc cameras. Her first camera, she's not ashamed to admit, was a pink Barbie camera that she toted around with her as a child.
"I always had a camera on me, it seemed like," she said.
Suffice it to say that Hopwood, 43, of Newell, has come a long way.
Anita Hopwood in her new photography studio in downtown Chester. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
Hopwood is the latest entrepreneur to open a business on Chester's main street. She's the proprietor of Anita Hopwood Photography, 560 Carolina Ave., available for a wide variety of portraits and occasions.
A 1987 graduate of Oak Glen High School, Hopwood is a self-taught photographer who, until three years ago, was a stay-at-home mom content with taking pictures at weddings and family reunions.
"I was always taking pictures of something," she said. "I hated having my picture taken. I always wanted to be on the other end of the camera."
Hopwood got her first good camera-a Minolta 35mm-in the late 1980s. It took her awhile to make the transition from film to digital, but, now, she can't imagine using anything other than digital technology.
When her children-Devynn, 16, and Joe, 22-were old enough, Hopwood went back to work, taking a position at the PictureMe Portrait Studio at the Calcutta Wal-Mart. There, she was involved with basic studio operations, including, of course, taking portraits of people of all ages.
"The people part cracks me, and I love the kids," she said.
Re-entering the work world was the push she needed to start her own business. She left the Walmart studio in April and started shooting weddings this summer. The word-of-mouth and Facebook business she was able to generate convinced her she could make it on her own.
"It just seemed like the right time to branch out," she said.
Hopwood is available for both in-studio and on-location photography jobs-weddings, senior pictures, baby portraits, class reunions, pet portraits and more.
She works mainly with a Canon Rebel XTI and plans to add fixed lighting and other amenities to her studio as she is able. But it's her ability to connect with clients and put them at ease that is her greatest strength as a photographer, she said.
Hopwood's studio is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and evenings and weekends by appointment. For more information, call 304-794-9862.