Two photographers may be better than one. In the case of Paired Images Photography on Main Street in the Kentlands, two photographers named Jessica work together turning photographic images into timeless, unique, elegant art.
The career paths of Jessica Notargiacomo and Jessica Latos converged in 2005 when Notargiacomo hired Latos to be her replacement as a wedding photographer. With their shared love of photography, they formed a fast friendship, and in 2009 the pair of Jessicas became business partners at Paired Images Photography.
The Jessicas took an early interest in photography and remember dabbling with their fathers’ cameras, but they bring different experiences and training to their collaborative business venture.
Photography was initially more of a hobby for Notargiacomo, who said that while she was attending Quince Orchard High School (Class of ’98) she helped start The National Art Honor Society there. She graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and worked a number of years as a wedding photographer and studio manager.
Latos, a graduate of Damascus High School (Class of ’00), recalls attending summer photography camp as a youth and always knew her future would head in that direction. “I think my dad had a mini-heart attack when I first told him I wanted to be a photographer,” said Latos. Interested in the technical aspects of photography, she graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Advertising Photography.
The fact that both ended up in a business venture as wedding photographers seems to surprise both Jessicas. “No one goes to photography school wanting to be a wedding photographer,” said Notargiacomo.
When they met and began working together in 2005, they discovered that they worked extremely well as a team and collaborated on important commercial photographic shoots, as well as wedding venues. In addition, their skill sets seemed to complement each other. “I am very well organized,” said Notargiacomo, “but Jess knew a lot more about digital photography than I did… we were both proficient in lighting but she was better with the computer.”
“We learned a lot from each other,” added Latos.
“What sets us apart,“ said Notargiacomo, “is our 50-50 partnership.” Often in photography, you have the business around one photographer or a husband and wife team working together, she said. “But we just really wanted to collaborate and build something together… it was never really about us as individuals but what we could provide to our clients together.“
“Another reason we were able to come together is that we agree on the important things,” said Notargiacomo. “Yeah,” added Latos, “like style.”
The economic downturn of the past few years has not adversely affected their small but growing business. “We started our business in 2009 when the economy was kind of at the bottom,” said Latos, “so we really haven’t been super-affected by it, our business has been growing every year…For us business has just gone up.”
“Also interesting is the how the different types of business are impacted,” said Notargiacomo. “Weddings, for instance, is one of those industries that doesn’t really go down. People are always getting married, they are always going to spend money on their weddings. But for commercial work, as soon as the economy goes down, our commercial work goes down.”
“Overall,” added Latos, “we haven’t really experienced a “crunch.”
From the time they started the business it was always important to the two Jessicas to be able to make a living.
The wedding referrals keep coming, and it is a big part of what they do, but Paired Images also provides various types of portraiture-families, babies, corporate head shots- and an increasing amount of work in commercial markets, like restaurants and real estate.
“This is it…this is really all we know,” said Notargiacomo.
Their docket fills up quickly these days, but they take it in stride.
“Last year we went to 32 weddings,” said Latos.
Notargiacomo corrected her, “36," and laughed, "...we know all the line dances.”