Photographer sets up at Chamber

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Photographer Bernadette Ulibarri is the Socorro Chamber of Commerce artist of the month for March.

Ulibarri, a former elementary teacher at schools in Socorro and Magdalena, started her business in 2008 but has been shooting photos all her life.

“I’ve been carrying a camera around since I was a kid,” Ulibarri said. “I don’t know how not to take pictures.

“I love it. It’s my adrenaline — I’m just addicted to it.”

Ulibarri shot her first wedding in 2006 while she was still teaching and kept on from there. She also does maternity, engagement, wedding, newborn, family and senior portraits.

Ulibarri said she did photography “on the side” as she taught school. But by 2008 she had become so busy with portraits that she had to make a decision to either remain teaching or pursue photography full-time, which meant giving up her steady job at a time when the U.S. was heading into a recession.

“It was kind of a leap of faith, I guess you could say,” Ulibarri said. “… And I’m very blessed to say that this worked out.”

She said it has been a learning experience along the way, but faithful clients keep coming back to have more portraits done. Clients have a range of products to choose from, including metal prints, canvass, albums and moveable story blocks that can be added to if more portraits are taken.

Ulibarri explained she contracts with a lab in Pennsylvania to print special products like the metal prints. She offers an extensive variety of products to set herself apart from other photographers.

Ulibarri’s clients can also download digital images from their own personalized online gallery. Prints can also be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the United States. She said feedback on that feature has been great; people like the convenience of it.

Ulibarri does retouching free of charge for her clients, and spends many hours retouching photos before the clients ever see them. Retouching may include editing out skin blemishes, body slimming, whitening the teeth or whitening the eyes. It can also include color correction, which may be necessary when a portrait has been taken in the bright sun.

She said retouching is the hardest part of the job, but it is also one of the steps she most enjoys in the process.

“It’s definitely fun to see the images come to life,” Ulibarri said.

Ulibarri does not take many photos indoors; she shoots mainly outdoors on location wherever clients prefer — with their automobiles, old buildings or just the natural landscape.

“I love New Mexico landscape,” Ulibarri said. “I love openness and the mountains.”

Ulibarri enjoys shooting her clients in a setting that connects with an aspect of the client’s personality.

“I guess you could say it’s lifestyle photography,” Ulibarri said. “It’s just really capturing people for the essence of who they are.”

Ulibarri plans to take portraits for many years to come, noting it is challenging but fun. She added she will do what it takes to get a good shot, including lying in stickers and even in an anthill one time by accident.

“It’s not just standing there with a camera at all,” Ulibarri said. “Sometimes it’s pretty vigorous.”

Ulibarri has a Facebook page — Bernadette-Ulibarri-Photography — and a website — www.bernadetteulibarri.com. Both display samples of her work, and her Facebook page provides a forum for clients to share their feedback.