Editors Note: South Georgia Today is pleased to present this limited run series, Hahira’s Working Women. This series will focus on the amazing women who own or manage a business in Hahira, or hold a position of leadership within this small community. These articles will run twice a week until all of these amazing women have told their stories. You won’t want to miss a single one of these stories.
Meredith Klapp’s dream of owning her very own photography studio has finally come true. What started as a hobby has turned into a reality where she gets to embrace her passion and do something she truly loves; capture the moments that often get overlooked. Meredith learned long ago, it isn’t about the pose or the props. It’s about the people and, most of all, the intimate connection they share.
Meredith has always loved photography, but when it came to a career, she chose teaching. Thirteen years ago, she started working as an elementary school art teacher. She loved the kids and thought she would be a teacher until she retired. Life had a different plan for her, however. What originally started as a hobby, became something more. Photography was always something she loved but it wasn’t something she had really though about as a career. Her smallest models planted the seeds that would later blossom into a beautiful reality, complete with a studio and all the props.
Her first photo shoots were simple. She worked from home and began to accumulate props and equipment that led her to redo a small bedroom in her home into a makeshift studio. Her business grew and her love for the tiniest of models finally took over. She did away with the more stressful shoots, like weddings and events and began to focus her interest on newborns and families. Nine years into her journey, things changed.
Meredith experienced a health crisis that made her evaluate many of her life choices. She looked at her small family and began to realize what was most important and that maybe her life’s purpose wasn’t teaching after all. Once her medical crisis resolved, she knew she could move forward without any obstacles, she pushed for the one dream that she had never thought she would realize. She turned in the keys to her classroom and began to focus on her career as a full-time photographer.
As a full-time photographer, she worked from home. She could enjoy the time she had with her young daughter and still be successful at the job she loved, without the stress and frustration. Through her illness, she learned the importance of having family photographs. Many times when children are grown and on their own, they realize they have no good pictures of their parents, no pictures of them together showing the love and affection between the parent and the child. She learned that it was the family and not the pose that was most important.
Meredith’s ultimate goal is to catch that fleeing moment when the smile is the most natural and a glance has the most meaning. “It’s the connection,” she said. “That minute when you can see the bond that connects them.” She looks for the moments that many photographers miss because they are working so hard to find the perfect pose or prop that will capture a theme. Meredith isn’t about the props (although she has several). She’s more about finding the love and grace within each picture that makes it both natural and unique to her subjects.
On August 1, 2018, after many months of hard work and a lot of faith, Meredith Klapp Photography was moved from the small bedroom in her home to a studio location at 104 S. Church Street in Hahira. Meredith and her friend, Kelly Barr found the building and saw its massive potential in spite of the rundown interior and years of neglect. They began the renovations and worked for several months to create the masterpiece it is today. From its high ceilings, old beams, and vintage brick and wood walls, the building is now a beautiful showcase where Meredith’s families can come and enjoy their photo session.
Kelly Barr’s State Farm office takes up the front portion of the building while Meredith’s studio is nestled comfortably in the back. Her side entrance has teal-colored doors and a large brown awning to welcome her clients. Once they step inside, they have access to a dining and living room area where they can relax while they prepare for their photo session. The room is bright and inviting, a welcoming atmosphere full of opportunities. Meredith has accumulated a wide variety of props and clothing that will allow her clients to create the perfect setting for the types of photos they want.
Meredith Klapp Photography is a dream come true, full of all the best wishes and hopes for the future that any business can offer its owner. Even though life sometimes guides you away from where you thought you would always be, it also has a way of making even the most impossible dreams come true. Ask Meredith, she can tell you. Four years ago she took the first tentative steps toward turning her passion into a reality and today her dreams are alive and allowing her to do what she loves the most.