Inspired by her role as a mother, Naja Lerus is an international and world-renowned maternity and newborn photographer with an ability to capture a mom’s most precious moments. This Chicago native creates flawless digital content, making her the go-to photographer for maternity and newborn shoots for the elite. She takes the artistic approach with her photography, embracing a woman’s natural form during pregnancy, and showcasing the simple and exquisite beauty of newborn babies. Her celebrity clientele includes Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose and his son PJ Rose and CBS channel 2 anchor Ryan Baker’s daughter, Grace. Naja Lerus says, “The act of capturing a moment that will not exist tomorrow is immeasurable.”
CEOMOM caught up with Naja Lerus to discuss what makes her photography unique and how she’s transforming the photography industry.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
My kids inspire me. I am a mom of 3 and I’ve always loved to do photography, but I was more inspired when I had my third child in 2010.
How did you transition into maternity and newborn photography?
When I started doing photography I focused on all genres, including seniors and weddings. I started to gravitate to where I was in my life, and at that point I was a new mom. I’d just had my third child. The more I shot the more I realized what inspired me the most was children. I started doing newborn shoots and that’s what led me to working with celebrities. When I became established I decided I wanted to do maternity. The style of maternity that I wanted to shoot was what I wanted for myself. I couldn’t find a photographer to do that so I decided to do it myself. People say they are looking for maternity photographers that shoot like me who gravitate toward the semi-nude and artistic. I like to play with the shadows and the curves. When you are pregnant you have that beautiful bump. It’s the art of pregnancy that I love to shoot.
What separates your photography from competitors?
There’s no right or wrong way to do photography. It’s about the type of photography that works for each photographer. A lot of people do outdoor photography. I don’t do that as much. I like to concentrate on the art part. I like to make it timeless and more artistic so that you can show your child when he is older, “That is what my mom looked like when she was carrying me. Not everyone is comfortable with nudity, that is something I embrace. The human body is a beautiful thing in its natural form.
You’ve done maternity and newborn photography for NFL and NBA players such as Derrick Rose, as well as other celebrities. How did your career lead you to doing photo shoots for such high profile clients?
It started out with Derrick Rose. It was word of mouth. I had photographed his girlfriend at the time best friend’s baby. That’s how I got started and how my name got out there. Once Derrick and his then girlfriend allowed me to share a few pics from their photo shoot I was able to shoot other athletes.
What advice do you have for a photographer who wants to build a high profile client base?
Your number one asset is the confidence you have in your own work, love what you do. I think that’s why everything has attracted to me because I had confidence in my own work and loved it so much. I joked that one day I wanted to reach high profile clients and I ended up attracting just that. Hold the vision that you have. If you have the vision that you want to reach high profile clients, it will happen.
How does being a mom influence your work as a newborn and maternity photographer?
I think that being a mother is my main influence. Every client that comes through my studio doors is trusting me with their newborn. They are trusting me to take care of their baby and give them beautiful pictures. I pull all of that from being a mother myself, all of the worries and concerns they have, for example, maternity shoots. “Am I going to be beautiful?” I know it all because I’ve had the same feelings. When I have a newborn client that comes I tell them, “Your baby is now my baby. I am going to take care of your baby as though she was my own.” I know exactly how to pose the baby so they look more beautiful than they have ever looked.
Where do you see Naja Lerus Photography in 5 years?
I see myself doing what I love to do. I would love to expand. I am already teaching my maternity photography overseas in France. I want to see my whole brand get bigger. I see myself doing conferences in the United States to inspire photographers to do what they want to do. People always say the photography industry is oversaturated. I don’t believe that. I believe there is space for everyone, there is enough business for everyone. I want to elevate the mindset in the photographer business. That is my global plan.
To learn more about Naja Lerus, visit http://www.najalerusphotography.com.