By Jordan Richart
Jamie Marshall remembers a moment early in her career when her boss pointed something out to her that she hadn’t noticed since she had taken the job.
She was working in public relations for a nonprofit when her boss shared with her a skill set in which she was very strong.
“She told me that I was not a writer but that I was a photographer,” Marshall said.
That was an interesting thought considering Marshall had a journalism degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
For Marshall’s work as a photographer, business owner and community volunteer, she was selected as part of The Tribune’s list of those who go above and beyond.
A little more than 25 years ago, Marshall and her husband, Greg, had started a family with the birth of their son, Brady.
Marshall had taken her son to get photos at Sears, where many at that time took their children for portraits. She remembers the photos were OK, but she didn’t really like the experience.
Marshall then decided to start taking her own photos of her son. Then she started taking photos for her friends who had recently had children.
When Brady was 18 months old, Marshall took the chance and started her own photography studio. She took some classes in Columbus to learn lighting and technical photography and editing skills.
That was 24 years ago, and she has since taken an immeasurable amount of photos for many families. She specializes in portraits for senior students, children, professionals and families.
“It’s a job I love, and I just love creating,” she said. “It’s so nice to give people something they will cherish forever.”
Some of the photographs are all families have left as Marshall said she has taken photos of families in a home that later burned down or the numerous photos she has taken of a family who then loses a loved one.
“I have the magic of freezing time that I think sometimes isn’t fully appreciated until much later on,” she said.
There are challenges to the work as she usually takes between 400 and 500 images in a session. Many times, she has to narrow it down to 70 images to use. Then comes the task of editing each photo.
There’s always the challenge of people’s expectations of perfection when it comes to photography, which sometimes cannot always be achieved. Then there are the times when children don’t want to cooperate or are overly shy.
That’s usually an all right situation, though, as Marshall has a few tricks of the trade that help get through those moments.
“I’ve been known to bribe with marshmallows, Smarties, stuffed animals or bubbles,” she said, laughing.
When all else fails, the family dog has been called upon to bring a smile or loosen the mood.
Marshall also has volunteered through her photography. For many years, she has served as the photographer for the Jackson County Fair queen pageant and other parts of the fair.
She takes photos before the pageant, during the questioning, during the event and after a court is named. Then comes the task of taking the portraits Monday morning.
“It’s always a fun morning because they’re very excited,” she said. “The court is going to be representing the county, and it’s an amazing thing to be part of.”
This year, Marshall helped Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry with the future Miss Jackson County fundraiser, where people could make a donation for a sash and a tiara for young girls. They also could make donations for photos.
The idea raised more than $2,300 for the Seymour organization, which plans to put the money toward playground equipment at its shelter.
The idea for the fundraiser came through Marshall’s work with 50 Chicks, a group of women who get together each quarter and donate $5,000 to charity. The group aims to show caring hearts and inspire good citizenship. Marshall has been involved since its inception.
Marshall also donates her time as a photographer through NILMDTS, also known as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. The organization provides remembrance photography to parents who have experienced the loss of a baby.
It’s a very solemn task as Marshall photographs the babies with their grieving mothers. She has been doing it for 10 years and has served 48 mothers in southern Indiana.
Marshall went through training to become a volunteer and goes at night when it’s quiet and there aren’t a lot of people around.
“It’s a lot, but you sit there and listen to the mother talk about her baby,” she said. “I think it’s very helpful to the mother, and these beautiful photos during a difficult time are something she will be able to have for the rest of her life.”
Marshall said she was surprised to be considered someone who goes above and beyond in the community.
“I feel like I run a pretty quiet life,” she said. “I’m not molding children’s minds, I’m not in medicine, but I guess I’ve found that what I do is actually important because I’m documenting people’s lives, and it’s something they’ll always have.”