“When you’ve never felt better and you know you’re never going to look better, you’re ready,” Williams said.
Running a successful business doesn’t just happen in the studio and editing room, it happens in the community. Williams helped found the Traverse City Film Festival and renovate the State Theatre, he helped form TART Trails, presented at TEDx Traverse City and teaches digital photography at Northwestern Michigan College.
Making Traverse City a great place to live helps the community, which helps business.
“Whatever you do in whatever community you’re in, just give,” Williams said. “Don’t look at Traverse City as some place you just come to make money. You have to give a lot. It’s a very small town. Very small. How it’s on the map and recognized for as many things as possible is only because of the spirit of the people here.”
Williams felt the touch of economic swings in the last decade. He saw fewer people hired and promoted starting in 2008, which led to fewer business portraits. Industrial clients like auto manufacturers folded or cut back on product portraits. Many of his consistent clients just avoided marketing expenses like professional photography.
“When you’re on the marketing side of things you see the money tumbling off first,” Williams said. “It was a really rough six years, but 2014 is roaring back. Businesses are spending because they realize they have to market, they have to look good. People are image-conscious.”
Williams expects to keep making pictures as the economy swings upward, and even after 35 years in business looks forward to a future of creating, inventing and making people feel great.
“Skeptics walk in here every day and believers float out,” Williams said. “It’s just so dreamy, it’s so affirming and it’s so comforting to see the psychologically perfect version of you, caught in your best expression, your best eyes, with your nicest, comfortable smile. There’s nothing fake. It’s the real you. That’s what I do.”