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behind the lens of amy long photography
Story by Audrey Hanes; photography by Amy Long

When photographer Amy Long moved to Jonesboro from Blytheville three years ago with her husband, Nathan, and son, Wally, she says that the city and its downtown welcomed her and her business with open arms. Now, thanks to a recent studio expansion and an ever-growing list of clients, Amy Long Photography has become a Downtown Jonesboro mainstay.

Long has been interested in photography since junior high, when a gift from her dad turned into a hobby that eventually became a thriving career.

“My dad gave me one of his old cameras, a manual Pentax Spotmatic, and so it began,” said Long. “I joined the photography club my freshman year and learned how to develop film. After that, it was always a hobby. I had several family members and friends that were avid hobbyists, and that certainly helped. I often thought about turning it into a career in my 20s but always felt that it was something that was out of reach for me.

“The beginning of my 30s were a little rocky; I had my son, Wally, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and lost my dad – all within the span of a year and a half. I decided at that point that life was too short and I was ready to risk
failing. As it turns out, it has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I start every day excited to go to work.”

While Amy Long Photography is now a well-known local business, it took Long years of hard work and teaching herself about her craft to turn photography into a career. Even so, she says she is still not finished learning.

“Thomas Edison said, ‘There is no substitute for hard work,’” said Long.
“I didn’t take a few good photos and then everyone wanted to hire me. When
I decided to really make photography my career, I jumped in headfirst. I educated myself through workshops, online workshops, articles, photo forums and even YouTube videos. I practiced all the time, even when I didn’t feel like it. I took out a loan and purchased the equipment I needed to move forward, which gave me a little pressure to succeed, and that’s a good thing.

“I have had the opportunity to learn from some amazing photographers such as David Hobby, Joe McNally, Brianna Graham, Tracy Raver and Kelley Ryden. I will also be attending a workshop this month with the fabulous Jasmine Star, so my
education will never be done. You have to constantly move forward or you will wake up one day and realize you have been passed by.”

Long’s photography business is primarily lifestyle and commercial, but she also does editorial work and weddings. She says that commercial photography keeps her on her toes and forces her to continually learn something new, which in turn influences her lifestyle photography – it has a slight ad quality to it – and
helps create her personal style.

“Jonesboro has welcomed my business with open arms,” said Long. “My commercial work is always increasing due to thriving business and industry in the area. I have had the pleasure of working with Occasions for some time and have met so many community leaders on those shoots, as well as working with other area magazines. I love doing family shoots and connecting with the subjects. I think I have the best clients in the world. I have so many repeat clients and feel it is a privilege to watch all of those sweet kids growing up in front of my lens. …

“I love creating something beautiful and looking for the beauty in every person, place or thing. I am my worst critic, believe me, but producing something I am truly proud of is a wonderful feeling. I also never tire of seeing my work in print, of course. Every time I pass a billboard with one of my photos, I smile. I love being part of the marketing process from conception to print.”

Long recently took over the office next door to her studio, and by combining the two spaces, will be better able to accommodate more of her clients’ needs. She added a sitting area with a large screen TV for clients to come in and view their galleries, as well as a new kids area with toys, fun seating, a TV and a hopscotch rug.“I’m very excited about the new expansion,” said Long. “I felt limited with my studio lighting because of the narrow space; now I am able to do so much more. My new space has allowed me to set up dedicated areas for shooting with natural light and studio light. … One of my clients came in with their 6-year-old son last week and he said, ‘Mommy, I love this place.’ That makes it all worthwhile.”

The popular photographer loves the downtown locale of her studio and says there is nowhere else in Jonesboro she would rather be.

“I love the character and history of our downtown,” said Long. “I think
having a thriving downtown scene means so much to a community. I hope
it continues to grow, and I want to be a part of that. Downtown is also one of the few places with foot traffic, and I hope people stop and check out the studio as they’re walking to one of the great restaurants we have in the area.”

Since moving to Jonesboro, Long has become involved with several nonprofit organizations – she has volunteered for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction and is a St. Bernards Advocate – and takes advantage of numerous other opportunities to give back as a business.

“From the beginning of my business, I have made giving back a priority,” said Long, who is also a member of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce. “I am lucky enough to live in a great place, have an amazing family and do something I love. My parents emphasized giving my whole life, of your time and your money. I have carried that philosophy into my business and feel that I am in a unique position as a business owner to have so many opportunities to do good things for the community.”

For more information about Amy Long Photography, located at 314 South Main Street, call 740-3317, visit amylongphotography.com or find Amy Long Photography on Facebook.