20 years of photographing people who love people. Where did the time go?
Well, I’d like to answer that. I am Jennifer Little, co-owner and
one of the original founders of Little’s Photography.
September 5th 1996 ~ Four Little’s said, “Okay, if we are really going to do this…
We’d better name it and open a bank account.” So we did. Dave,
Connie, Julie and Jennifer became Little Creations. We spent our days,
all of them, doing one of three things, showing our work and talking to
potential clients; photographing and creating for those who hired us;
and talking about how to do more of the first two. It quickly became an
obsession. The more people gushed over what we were creating for them,
the more confident and committed we got to making it available to everyone.
At the time when we began, family portraits looked like this:
Our first family portrait looked like this:
Within our first year the other two Little’s, Jill and Jackie, joined
the team and now it was officially a family business. Each of us had an
area we could excel at. We were doing four times the amount of gross revenue
that the average established photography studio was known to do based
on a study from the PPA (Professional Photographers of America).
1998 ~ It wasn’t long before my Dad, Dave Little, the creator of the look
and the driving force behind the business, realized we were selling hundreds
of portraits all over the state every year and our clients had to take
them somewhere else to have them framed. “Ohhhh no no noooo”,
time for the son-in-laws to join in the business, enter Giovanni and Aaron.
We started offering simple frames and before long a full blown framing
department was born and our family business now had a couple of spouses
By now we are two full years in and we are clear that we are a hit.
After all, we were offering this:
While others were still doing this:
We knew we needed to grow and add more cities, bigger cities with our clientele.
We did the research, found the most desirable cities and they became like
targets on a map. We spent a ton of money on a 20x20 display and we started
doing home shows in South Florida. BIG HIT! We would travel the three
hours back and forth repeatedly until finally I, got to move down and
start our second location. I had only been here about six months when
I met Bela who was here from Hungary. It was love at first sight for me
and before I knew it, he was helping me in all aspects of growing this business.
We grew into having three studio locations just in South Florida in Plantation,
Aventura, and Miami. We now had a staff of about 30, and our own 3,800
square foot wet lab in Orlando ½ a mile from our Winter Park studio,
where the family oversaw the photography and made the prints and products
This thing were moving fast. There were so many clients, so many shoots,
so many employees and SO MUCH OVERHEAD! It was time to rework it. This
We went back to our map. The one that told us where the most desirable
communities were and we made a plan. Do a home show in each of these cities
and see how many family portraits we could book in the allotted time.
The calendar quickly filled up. First stop, Charlotte NC for 10 days,
where we blew our own minds with the amount of clients we signed up. We
didn’t even come home from there. We went to Washington DC for the
following week and again. A big hit! There was just one problem. I was
missing Bela and threatening to quit. Guess what my dad did? He had one
conversations with him. I was not there and I’m not sure what was
said, but Bela agreed to go on the road with Jackie and I to the next
city… New Orleans.
On the drive to NOLA, we taught Bela what to say at the show and he practiced
the whole drive. This was a miracle because six months earlier he barely
spoke any English. He was determined to travel the country with us and
this was the only way. It worked! From New Orleans we went everywhere,
Atlanta, Philadelphia, Long Island, Connecticut, Nashville, Jacksonville,
Houston, Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We zigged zagged all
over the country. Anywhere we wanted to go, we went. We laughed, we suffered,
we got home sick, since we only went home about once a month for a few days.
The traveling worked so well, we hired another teammate, a girl Robin,
and she and Jackie became our 2nd travel team. Now we had twice as much
work and we loved it, until we didn’t any more. Six years passed
and I had had enough. I was ready to settle down. Bela and I had already
gotten married but I wanted to have a family and a community. I gave the
rest of the family six months notice that I was going to pull the plug
on the traveling.
2007 and the economy pulled the plug for all of us. All of a sudden people
started dropping off the photo shoot schedule, people were cancelling
their appointments and telling us they didn’t know when they would
be able to reschedule. For a while we thought, “Uh Oh! that’s
not good. This is where it’s all going to end.” The economy
is in the toilet and no one is going to spend this kind of money on a
luxury family portrait experience.
Even though there was truth in that fear, we had made it over the hump.
We had built such an excellent reputation and already had over 10,000
clients, we survived. There was still a percentage of people who could
afford the luxury we offered them and another percentage who made it happen
because it was important to them. Their logic was and still is, “My
2 year old isn’t going to be 2 forever. I want something special.”
During this time, Bela and I proposed to the rest of the family that we
wanted to branch off and be our own business. It was too complicated to
keep agreeing and making decisions as a huge family, when there was so
much going on. He and I wanted to be in charge of our own fate, a “Sink
or Swim” mentality. Plus with everything that was going on in the
world between 2007 and 2009, it was best to be thinking from inside our
own local market. A deal was made and we were on our own. Almost immediately,
Bela had the idea to open an independent frame shop, one that could not
only be for our portrait clients, but also for other items our clients
had to frame. After all, we have the best clients in the world with great
taste and they were going somewhere with their framing needs. Plus the
occasional “walk in” would be like icing on the cake. People
thought we were crazy, especially the framing manufacturer representatives.
One in particular from ROMA Mouldings said, “I don’t understand.
You’ve had five frame shops close in your area in the last year
and you’re just going to open one in this little office space and
you think you’re going to survive?” The look on his face was
like we were about to make the biggest mistake of our lives. We were like,
“Yep! We do and we think it’s going to be a hit!”
2007 ~ Within a month, THE FRAME STUDIO made its first sale. In an industry where
the average ticket across the country is $145. Our first sale was $1800.
We were smiling from ear to ear. We purposely ordered the best samples
the industry had to offer and then set the price at 10% under what the
competition was selling it for and we told each client. One by one, they
turned their beautiful family portraits into finished pieces of art with
just the right custom frame. Guess what happened then? Those same clients
said things like, “I also need two diplomas framed. Do you do that
too?”, “I need a mirror for my hallway”, “Can
you make a shadow box out of these things for my husband’s 40th
As the economy was crashing all around us, THE FRAME STUDIO was getting
the industry's attention. So much so, the owner of ROMA Mouldings,
the same company who sent the skeptical representative before we opened,
asked if he could inquiry how we were doing it. We simply didn’t
need anyone to walk in off the street. We already had a client base.
2009 ~ Not only were we in a brand new business in an industry we knew almost
nothing about, but FILM WAS DEAD! And we were still shooting film. Changing
your film studio to digital was like trying to learn Chinese. You knew
they were speaking a language you should understand, but you were lost
about 95% of the time. Not to mention leaving behind all our expertise
and expensive equipment. What to do? We hired a spit fire photographer
and graphic designer Danielle, and together we got to work. We created
all sorts of automation and procedures. We took the plunge into the digital
age and into the available space next door, making an offer an offer on
the empty space, (one of hundreds of empty storefronts all over town).
Bela and I said to each other, “We can expand, or we can have health
insurance.” We both looked at each other for a second and said,
“Let’s expand and not get sick!”. Again, people thought
we were nuts. The world economy was crashing.
2010 ~ Bela and I decided we didn’t want to be married anymore but we loved
each other and wanted to stay friends and business partners, so that’s
what we did and it works!
2011 ~ Soon we met Bari. She was a client, who wanted to work with us. She could
tell we needed the help because the phone rang off the hook every time
she was in the studio. She got to work and made sure that important things
got done. The kind of things “creatives” don’t do well.
Today Bari is still my right hand woman.
2011 ~ We were approached by Pine Crest School about doing all of their High School
Seniors formal images. We took that ball and ran with it by offering our
famous Candid and Lifestyle shoots too. Our senior app has been viewed
over 20,000 times. We own that segment of the market in Fort Lauderdale
and the surrounding areas.
2012 ~ We found Jelty, custom framer extraordinaire. She can frame anything that
isn’t moving. Then we found Khye, an amazing young photographer
willing to learn our brand. We also started promoting corporate headshots.
However instead of the grown up school picture version that most people
get stuck with, we bought a special lighting setup that has a fresh and
thankfully powerful look that stands out in a crowd. We’ve become
so popular for this service that it has spun into a life of it’s
own. Our clients are business owners and professionals and they need great
images to market their business. This year we became the official photographers
of the largest law firm in Florida, Gray-Robinson. We traveled the entire
state of Florida and photographed over 300 attorneys for their new website
launch. It was a thrill.
In the last three years our team has grown to nine members including Melanie,
who guides each client through the process beautifully. Don, who handles
a million details in the production department, and Valerie who is a delight
on the phone and Rakhi our newest photographer on staff. Plus we added
one awesome business coach, Kelly Townsend. We’ve expanded to three
store fronts and are looking forward to the 4th soon where we will be
offering video services to our business and nonprofit clients. We currently
have our own video department for events, weddings, and other important
occasions, and we see a bright future in offering a monthly video subscription
to our business clients who have a message to share.
To sum up 20 years of growth and development is not a simple thing.
There are many people not mentioned here who helped, made a difference,
or taught me a valuable lesson. I’m grateful for everyone of you,
and you know who you are. The future looks to me today, the way it did
in September of 1996, like anything is possible and it’s just a
matter of getting from here to there and then repeat.
Thank you, the most amazing support team, my family, and my friends. All
of which have been a major contribution to having Little’s Photography
and THE FRAME STUDIO thrive.
Here’s to another 20 years of Making Memories.
#20yearsmakingmemories #20yearsoflittles #senioryear.info #littlescinematography
#alittleaffair #theframestudio #babyluxe #toddlerlove #familyportraits