In Other’s Words:
When Jaime Pawlinga was thinking of a career, photography wasn’t in the picture.
She knew what she wanted, and that was to be a professional firefighter. She was already a volunteer, and the fire company paid for her advanced training. It was something she loved.
Unfortunately, 2 hip replacements at age 25 ended that dream.
“I thought my life was done,” Pawlinga said. “I had to step back and decide what I was going to do.” But she didn’t choose a new career. Instead her new career chose her. She had always taken photographs of family and friends while she was growing up. So when she was pregnant with her first child, she bought a point-and-shoot camera to record his baby years. When she shared her photos with friends, they started asking her to photograph their children. This started happening more and more often. “Finally my husband came to me and said, ‘I think you might have something here,’” Pawlinga said. “It really picked up from friends to friends of friends to friends of their friends.”
“It’s been a pretty quick ride,” she said. “But I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world — even on the tiring days.”
Pawlinga credits her success to caring about the people she photographs. “Families were coming to me because I took extra time with kids,” she said. “Instead of just posing kids, I’ll sit and play with them. That lets me take great pictures.” Pawlinga thinks everyone deserves great pictures. “Photographs are something people cherish. Memories are just so precious.” That’s one reason why she has developed what she calls the “Sacred Journey.” For terminally ill children or terminally ill parents of young children, she offers free sessions and photographs. She does the same for military personnel about to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. And she offers a sliding scale payment system on photographs of children with disabilities. “These people need extra care and attention that they don’t get in a lot of other studios,” Pawlinga said. “The families notice and appreciate that.” And she hasn’t forgotten her former firefighting comrades. All firefighters, police, EMTs and military receive a 10% discount with photo ID.
Jaime has been taking photographs for as long as she can remember so that is why it was such ease to go from firefighting to photography. As a young girl she always had her camera with her. She grew up in the arts, playing the piano, singing, drawing and of course...PHOTOGRAPHY!
Jaime was born in Schenectady, raised in Burnt Hills, NY and besides photography her other passion is her family! She has a wonderful husband, Christopher and two small children, Thomas and Samantha.
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