The Joy (Joi) of Photography

3.25.13 Joi Pearson

Photographer Joi Pearson was born in Hampton, Virginia in 1980. She developed an interest in taking pictures at a young age from her father, Edward Pearson, who was well known in their hometown for always having a camera in his hand. Upon graduating from Hampton University with a business degree, Joi moved to Atlanta, GA where she modeled and worked as a market manager for a promotions company. In 2007, Pearson discovered her ability and passion to capture memorable events and document peoples’ personal experiences. She quickly built up a long list of celebrity clientele as an event photographer. Joi’s business often takes her away from social gatherings and into the photo studio. Her career as a published professional model gives Joi a unique understanding of capturing people’s emotion and beauty through portraiture.

Joi was gracious enough to talk about her inspiration, business habits and the challenges and experiences of working with celebrities.

Your dad was a photographer when you were a child. What were some of your most memorable moments while watching your dad using his camera?
Lol, all of them! I can attest for anyone who has ever been around my dad that there was never a dull moment. He was so full of zest and loved life so he made it easy for you to feel comfortable with him. He was awesome at “setting people at ease” and once that’s accomplished you are open to a world that many have not ever seen before. And that’s the magic! Capturing moments and memories that only you and your clients create, it’s beautiful! I learned so much from him that answering this question was emotional. Silas, your good, ask the emotional question 1st and then follow with the technical ones. Don’t we love that Hampton University education!

You also modeled prior to picking up the camera. What advantages do you have through your experiences being on both sides of the camera?
When I shoot, I can relate to what the model is feeling because I have been there. I can help pose them, speak, laugh & have a good time because they know I understand. Working in front of the camera helps me capture people’s emotion and beauty through now behind it.

You’ve incorporated celebrity clients into your client base. Most business owners would go to the end of the earth to have access to some of the celebrities that you’ve worked with. What’s one aspect about celebrity clients that people would be most surprised to hear/know?
I think that most people would be surprised to hear/know about celebrities is they have their issues just like we do. They have bad hair days, they have acne break outs, they disagree on outfits, they make their own decisions & they have their own opinions. I always have people ask; “How is so & so in real life?” & my response is, “they speak, read, eat & sleep just like we do.”

What’s been the biggest challenge in operating your business?
Staying relevant! With so many photographers emerging everyday, I have to constantly find ways to continue to brand myself so I stand out. I have to make my clients experience so great that they know they could not of gone anywhere else!

How do you bring themes for photo sessions to life? What’s the brainstorming process?
I get my clients to help me with this one, not to share all my secrets, but I give them and myself a homework assignment. I want my clients to be engaged in the process leading up to the date we take the pictures. Building excitement in the clients and your team will help excite and bring themes to life because it shows in their faces. It is really all about them. They bring it to life with their personality. I’m just blessed I’m there to capture it!

What’s one habit that every entrepreneur should develop?
The habit of establishing a team to help you. Though I own the business I take on all the good & the bad that comes along with it.  I owe a lot to my team, they help me do the little things which keep my business running smoothly daily.

What’s exciting and new with Joi Pearson Photography?
I revamped my website & logo courtesy of Also, in January, I opened up a new studio in my hometown of Hampton, VA! I’m extremely excited & the growth of my businesses!

What inspires you?
I’m inspired daily by my son, he gives me an appreciation about life I did not have before. My dad told me along time ago, “You haven’t lived life until you have had a child!,” now I understand. The strength that my mother possesses inspires me. It is very easy when married to hide in the shadow of your husband. It’s not because you are forced to, but just because. Seeing her stand alone without a man she still loves is extremely inspiring! In general I am inspired by life and all of its beauty, obstacles, heartaches & triumphs!

Joi Pearson Photography Inc.