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Very few people are fortunate enough to turn their hobby into a successful career; however, that is just what Amy (Allegretto) Price, 34, did four years ago. As the sole owner of Priceless Expressions Photography, Price focuses exclusively on outdoor photography in natural light.
"I'm very happy with what I do, the hours I work and the clients I encounter. It's nice to see my business growing a little each year," Price said. "Each year brings new clients, which is always good. I love my repeat clients just as much!"
Price operates her photography business out of her home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Upper St. Clair, where she has lived with her husband, William ("Billy"), a corporate bankruptcy attorney, for the past eight years.
"I'm in a very blessed position. If I didn't have my husband, I never could have started the company. He is extremely encouraging and supportive (and is) who made it financially possible for me to start up my own business and work my own hours," she said. "The freedom to set my own schedule works well for me and the luxury of being my own boss works even better for me."
As a one-woman show, Price utilizes her organization skills in setting up appointments, photographing clients, editing and processing photos and completing paperwork, including contracts, financial documents and taxes. She has also created the business' website, which may be found at www.pricelessexpressionsphotography.com.
Her current setup of shooting outside and seasonally works well for Price, who chooses to work on a part-time basis. She noted that many full-time photographers are often based out of a studio in order to accommodate clients year-round.
"I only specialize in children ages three months to 10 years old and families," Price said. "I get requests for all kinds of things, but purposely limit my field. You'll obviously make more income if you are open to many areas of photography."
She added that there are several areas of photography, including stock photography, commercial/industrial, product/still life, portrait, magazine/journal, travel, events and sports.
"Training is one thing, but you also just have to have a good eye for photography," Price said.
While the freedom to use her creativity is a favorite aspect of her career, Price noted there are specific challenges pertaining to outdoor photography.
"I have no control over the weather, nor can I predict what is on the way," she noted. "Getting cooperation from large group photos can also be a challenge - from what to wear to how to position them to just being quiet so they can hear my directions."
Price said she often has to politely ask parents not to yell "Smile!" at their children during sessions, as this method never produces a natural smile.
"I need parents there for the safety of the child, but the child often does better if mom and dad are not hovering and shouting out commands. It just tends to stress the kids out and overstimulate them. Not exactly the expressions I want to capture," she explained.
In addition to obtaining a bachelor of science degree in elementary/early childhood education from Edinboro University in 1998, Price went on to earn a career diploma in photography in 2007 from the Penn Foster Career School. She has also taken several photography courses in her area.
"I've always had a love for watching babies develop and explore their environments. It is always comical to watch what they do next," Price said. "I've also always been a total shutterbug."
According to Price, the people and neighborhoods of Upper St. Clair remind her of St. Marys in many ways, with children always playing in the neighborhood, friendly neighbors and quality private and public schools.
"I feel like I've had the best of both worlds. Small towns have a lot to offer over big cities. St. Marys is safe, simple (in a good way) and charming. I still have many good, solid friendships that were established in St. Marys. Many of my relatives still reside in the area, too. Life gets busy, but it is always nice to come home and see family and friends," Price said, adding that she also misses the closeness of everything in St. Marys.
"Pittsburgh offers diversity and there is always something to do, new restaurants, ample shopping, theaters, concerts, sports, etc. The traffic can be a pain, though," she added.
Price and her husband were married at Sacred Heart Church in St. Marys in 2003. She described the church as "one of the most beautiful churches we have ever seen."
Price is a 1994 graduate of Elk County Christian High School. She is the daughter of Wayne and Janet Allegretto of Ridgway and granddaughter of Catherine Paige of Ridgway.
Price and her husband are expecting a baby boy in the spring. She plans to resume work in fall 2011, following an extended maternity leave. Together the couple is very involved in the Early Learning Institute, a local nonprofit for infants, toddlers and preschoolers with special needs. Price previously worked at the facility as an Early Intervention teacher before deciding on a career change in 2007.
The couple are avid Pittsburgh Panther fans, attending all home Pitt football and basketball games. They also enjoy dining out and trying new restaurants. When she's not working, Price said she can be found shopping or reading.