Ground Floor: North Liberty photographer takes business to the next level

Photographer blends interior design background to give clients the full package

George Ford
Published: December 10 2013 | 6:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:39 am in
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Ruby Ellen Photography took on its first client in October 2012. Just over a year later, owner Robyn Rasmussen was scheduling up 40 to 50 photo sessions a month.

With such a busy schedule, Rasmussen’s house was a mess and the time she was spending photographing other families meant significant time away from her own.

“In the last couple of months, it went from an occasional thing to booming,” Rasmussen said of her North Liberty home-based photography business. “I had so much going on that something had to change.”

What changed was Rasmussen’s business model.

Rasmussen used to offer an economical one-hour photo session, after which she handed off a 200-image CD that her clients could use however they liked. After realizing that many of those clients were using the digital images to obtain poor quality prints from the drugstore or an Internet site, Rasmussen was determined to give them a better product.

“I wanted them to have something they could be proud to display,” Rasmussen said.

Ruby Ellen Photography’s new business model draws upon Rasmussen’s background in interior design. Instead of CDs with digital images, Rasmussen creates custom wall displays with high-quality framed prints and canvasses.

Each photo session begins with an in-home consultation during which Rasmussen uses design software to help the clients visualize how a collection of prints will fit into their living space. She also reviews the clothing choices and photo shoot locations that will work best for the collection given the particular space in which it will be displayed.

“The photographs are their artwork,” Rasmussen said.

With new pricing and high-end product offerings, Rasmussen expects the demands on her time will level off to a more manageable level.

Still, she wants to provide options for budget-minded clients in lieu of the deeply discounted photo sessions she previously offered. This winter, she will offer “Oh Snap” workshops for people interested in learning how to take better shots with their own cameras.

“I will help them learn how to see through their own camera lens,” Rasmussen said. “For those people who know only how to use the basic button, I will teach them about lighting, angles, background, and how to use the manual settings.”

Eventually, Rasmussen would like to have her own photography studio, but she is in no rush. She prefers photographing her clients in their own element.

“I’m not trying to be your average studio,” Rasmussen said. “I want you in your home so we can create memories to hang on your wall.”

At a glance

  • Owner: Robyn Rasmussen
  • Business: Ruby Ellen Photography
  • Email:
  • Phone: (319) 621-3365
  • Website:


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