Limerick's West Ridge Pike is now home to yet another new business: Chorus Photography. Opened in West Norriton, the move and expansion of the professional photographers was not only necessary for owners Brian and Michele Miller, but positive because the business opened and grew in a "bad economy."
The studio and office's physical location is at 365 W. Ridge Pike; however the Millers do a lot of their shoots on location. Brian Miller is the talent. He takes the photos and Michele is the brains, working on the marketing and behind-the-scenes work. Both agree, it's their personable approach that allows them to shine.
"The concept behind it was that we're known for being family-oriented," Brian said. "We do very little advertising. We've grown over the last five years strictly by word of mouth."
Five years ago, the Millers started Chorus Media Group, a strictly corporate-oriented photography company, working on mostly headshots. Miller said he had no interest in ever doing weddings or bar/bat mitzvahs. However, one small favor led to what you see today.
"We were operating out of West Norriton in the Jeffersonville area," Miller explained. "I did one wedding as a favor to another photographer, it was her wedding. Next thing we know, we had 10 weddings the following year. The website we had set up wasn't really for consumers. It was a B2B site. It was black. It was red. It was very corporate-looking. The more consumer stuff we got in, we realized we needed a completely different brand and website. So, Chorus Photography was born about a year and a half ago."
Philabundance and St. Christopher's Foundation for Children are two of the company's clients, but they serve the greater Philadelphia area, now for any and all occasion.
Some services include weddings, family portraits, baby portraits, headshots, website imagery, anniversary parties, boudoir photos, etc. Miller said one of the more difficult decisions in the expansion was deciding where to call home.
"We looked at strip malls, we looked at warehouse space," Miller said. "It wasn't us. We're very family-driven. When people came, we wanted them to feel comfortable. We wanted them to feel like they were going to another home. That's what 365 is. It's nothing more than an old home we're making into a studio.
"When you're doing family portraits, if you go to places in the mall, the kids are generally doped up on sugar. There's too much going on for them to focus on what we're doing. Here, they're relaxed, or we'll go to their house. Not everybody is going to come to the studio. In some cases, we'll go to people's homes because the family and children will be more comfortable in their own space. It's close enough to the to get people to drive by and see the sign, but at the end of the day, people are coming to a home even though it's our offices."
The studio is open for business as of this writing, but the grand opening will be on July 15, according to Miller. Hours will generally be 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekdays and by appointment on week nights and weekends. Cash, check, and all major credit cards.
The Millers just bought a property to call home in East Pikeland. The unique thing about that is, while they are building a house on the two-and-a-half acres, they will also use a portion of the property as an outdoor studio, with a gazebo, bridge and plenty of open space to bring clients close to nature. That will be done in September, Miller said.
As for staff, Miller's assistant is Sandy White. She meets with clients, along with Miller. Megan Carrie is the lead second shooter and has been with the company for more than a year. She is also responsible for boudoir shoots. Jennifer Bragan is also a photographer and assistant. A third photographer is needed, as well as an album designer. Chorus Photography is hiring.
Overall, the family-friendly feel extends to the greater community. The Millers invite all potential clients to swing by and have a cup of coffee, but promise not to perform any "high pressure sales."
"We're happy to be out here," Miller said. "Come in, meet, stop in and say hi! That's my biggest thing. Feel free to stop by. If you want to book something, you're welcome to, but it's not a requirement to walk into our door."
The key for Chorus Photography is to work with people to develop relationships for a lifetime.
"We go to great lengths to get to know our clients," Miller said. "We don't want them for just one shoot. We want them for a lifetime. When we book a wedding, one of the first things we do is we take the bride and groom out to dinner. We get to know them, because the day of the wedding, it will help us get to know... You're looking for little tells. You're looking for the smirk, the smile. Now, all of a sudden, you know what you're looking for on the day of the wedding. After that, you want the maternity photos, you want the family photos, the reunions. You can't do that by just treating the customer as a customer as opposed to the client."