J. Thomas Photography
Jason Williams likes telling a story with his camera, and his ability to do so is the cornerstone of a successful family-based business.
Williams, his wife, Missy, and business partner Topher Stevenson comprise J. Thomas Photography specializing in weddings, portraits and corporate events.
Based in Baltimore, J. Thomas Photography works with business clients and wedding couples throughout the I-95 region, from Virginia to Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, but is not bound geographically. “I photographed a wedding in Jamaica for a couple whose engagement photos I had also done, so given the right set of circumstances, I will travel anywhere for a client.”
Williams studied photography in high school and college and worked part-time assisting local photographers, but never pursued it as a career path until planning his own wedding in 2003. “We used a big studio out of Washington, D.C., and I got to see firsthand the exciting direction that digital technology and the more journalistic style of photography was taking the industry.” That encounter proved to be a catalyst and Williams joined that studio shortly after.
“I worked out of their D.C. studio for three years, shooting weddings, corporate events and commissioned portraits. It was an intensive immersion with experts in the field,” he recalls. As principal care-giver to his three young children – wife Missy is a software engineer for Raytheon Industries – Williams needed more flexibility with his schedule. In 2007, he struck out on his own as J. Thomas Photography.
In an era where everyone has a camera phone and the safety net of filters, Williams shares what a professional photographer provides.
“It’s not just better gear,” he laughs. “I have people come up to me all the time and say, ‘I wish I had a camera like that so I could get that shot,’ but it doesn’t work that way. Along with the camera and lenses, and lights, we bring real skill and expertise. It goes beyond being able to point and shoot. It’s getting the best picture possible in any situation.”
That’s particularly crucial when it comes to photographing one-off events like weddings.
“At weddings, you only have one chance to get it right,” Williams says. “And you never know what the day will bring. I had a wedding where the limo driver brought the bridal party three hours late. Another, where the bride wanted outside portraits, but it was raining. I always go over a general plan with the couple, but realistically, you have to work with the day and go with what you’re given.”
The back end work a professional photographer provides is important as well, explains Williams. “The editing process involves selecting the best shots from hundreds or thousands of photos to tell the client’s story. It can also involve cropping, re-touching or image correcting if the client desires those services.”
Missy Williams handles the post-processing, along with marketing and advertising, and some Photoshop work is outsourced to a local designer. Business partner Topher Stevenson is also a principal photographer for the company and is active in the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events. Stevenson and Jason attend networking functions and meetings for the association that give them a chance to talk with representatives from hotels and local vendors.
“We do a lot of networking with other photographers as well as professionals from complimentary industries like public relations, event planners, DJs and florists. Getting to know them and their work is the best way we can give and receive good referrals,” Williams says.
From staging a perfect senior portrait session to capturing the action-packed bouquet toss. From chronicling the fun of a family reunion to immortalizing a corporate board of directors. Skill, expertise and a true love of photographing people are the hallmarks of J. Thomas Photography.
“I may only get to share a moment with a client, but my work gives them a lifetime of memories.” I95
J. Thomas Photography