Traveling the world and photographing it is the dream of many amateur photographers. Debi Cramer decided to go from amateur to professional and make that dream happen when she launched 38th Avenue Photography in 2018, after earning her graduate degree in 2017 in Arts Administration. It was in between those two events where she found herself at a crossroads.
A lot of decision-making went into the launch of her business. She had to consider whether she would prefer working for a large nonprofit in the arts, or follow her passion for photography by opening up her own company.
“With so many years of shooting around the world and nationally, I wanted to share my passion for culture and natural beauty with others,” said Cramer. “At this stage of my life, I am free to work and travel with very few constraints. It was the perfect time to pursue my own business in photography.”
Cramer’s vision for 38th Avenue Photography was to land gigs that would involve national and international travel for clients who would require cultural, on-location photography experience.
“I also envisioned shooting product photography, and special events for businesses. I named my business after the street address I grew up on in Bayside, Queens. It’s a tribute to my parents who supported my art education in high school and college,” she added. After receiving her graduate degree, Cramer felt it was time to leave New York.
“I wanted to return to the ocean – to a large city with a good arts scene, as well as one that was close to a major international airport,” she said. “Plymouth has always been one of my favorite places to live. This is actually my third time living in Massachusetts, including a prior residence in Plymouth back in 1983. I love the South Shore and believe my talent can enrich businesses here and afar.”
Launching a business is always challenging, as is getting the word out about it. Cramer advertises via social media, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce publications, through networking events, public relations, direct mail and word of mouth. Some challenges, however, are of the unexpected kind – like a global pandemic, for example.
“The most challenging aspect so far is one that many businesses are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is continuing to grow my client base.”
Cramer is currently the sole employee/photographer shooting and editing shots, but has established important relationships with videographers and photographers who can assist for projects that require those extra services.
What makes 38th Avenue Photography stand out from the competition, Cramer said, is her ability to design before and while she’s shooting.
“I see things with a designer’s eye. I notice details, color and form while I am on a shoot,” she said. “The creative process for me always comes first. My years of working with people, teaching and traveling have taught me to be a good listener. I hear what my client wants to get out of the photography session. Additionally, my ability to be flexible and comfortable in all kinds of foreign locations allows me to get right to work with very few adjustments. I am very comfortable culturally in developing countries. Language, customs and food are what I really enjoy. My experience and adaptability, as well as my designer’s eye, set me apart.”
Since moving to Plymouth, Cramer has had opportunities to shoot locally here on the South Shore, as well as out-of-state, in Hawaii, and even Europe. Being able to travel has opened her eyes to cultures around the world.
“The most rewarding aspect of being a global photographer is getting to meet and network with people from different cultures. It has given me a window into their part of the world that most tourists typically don’t get to experience,” said Cramer. “Recently I participated in the national Front Door Portrait Project here in Plymouth. That was very rewarding because I was helping families document the situation, yet also capturing their incredible ‘front porch’ moments in photos that will last a lifetime. Speaking with families during the initial months of COVID-19 brought a lot of peace to me as it reinforced my belief that we are all in this together and here for one another.”
Cramer has enjoyed volunteering on projects for a number of community and charitable entities, including ribbon-cutting events for the Greater Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce, The Amazing Race, and for The Blizz, which is a special kids’ hockey team out of Kingston. She is looking forward to affiliating her business with other non-profits in the near future, as well.
“I love what I do and that is always reflected in my work with clients,” Cramer said. “The final shots definitely illustrate high-quality design and professional state-of-the-art equipment. 38th Avenue Photography brings decades of multicultural awareness, design, and sensitivity to client needs while shooting on location or in the studio. Adaptability allows for successful collaborative assignments. Post-production editing experience guarantees gorgeous final images. I put a lot of effort into the post-production end of every project.
“In 10 years’ time, I would love to see 38th Avenue Photography shooting for major worldwide and national clients,” she added. “That, hopefully, will include printed and online publications. My dream gig would be National Geographic! Being able to tell a story with my photography has always been my forever dream!”
Most importantly, Cramer would like people/potential clients to know that she’s a people person who is passionate about photography. “I love being outdoors, but appreciate a studio setting in the middle of winter,” she said.
Cramer would like potential clients to know that the South Shore and Boston areas, as well as national/international businesses, have a photographer available to them who brings a unique combination of professional photography skill sets to the table that is commercially-oriented.
While photography is her passion, Cramer still makes time for her other loves.
“Friends and family alike know how much I love being on the water, especially sailing!” she said. “I’ve owned a few types of dinghy sailboats that include a Sunfish, a Catalina, and a Lightning. I’ve raced the Lightning in regattas while living in Central New York. I’m currently looking to get affiliated with sailing fleets here in New England. I am the new owner of a red kayak named Ruby. I am also an avid gardener. I have a love affair for perennial gardens and container gardening. I’m addicted to photographing botanicals everywhere I go. Lately, due to COVID-19 and limited travel, you can find me walking the beach and grabbing a seaside dinner.”
To learn more about 38th Avenue Photography, or to view Cramer’s portfolio, visit 38thavenuephotography.com.