The Picture of Success

GCC Student Has Her own Photography Business

Batavia, NY- Genesee Community College is pleased to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of its students through a new Entrepreneur of the Month program. This month, 19-year old Arielle Thompson is being recognized. Arielle graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma from Oakfield-Alabama Central School in 2012 and started her business Photography by Arielle in October 2012. She is a Liberal Arts major at GCC.

Arielle has always had an interest in photography, but wasn’t able to purchase the camera she needed until after high school. “I took a basic course with a local photographer on how to use my camera and all of the settings, but other than that I am self-taught,” she says. “I like to consider myself a portrait photographer because that is what I enjoy most. I enjoy being with people and being able to create something that makes them smile.”

Arielle’s business was born out of necessity. Her mother, Tonya Thompson, needed Arielle to take her brother Justin’s senior pictures. Though she had limited experience and knowledge about taking a portrait, Arielle did it and found that everyone loved how they turned out. “That is when I decided to try and turn that into something, because of how excited everyone seemed to have been when they saw them.”

While business was slow in the beginning months, Arielle saw a significant increase in interest when the weather warmed and has been surprised at the inquiries she’s received. “I never thought I would be having so many people call and ask me to take photos of their special moments,” she says. “I was even given the opportunity this past June to take photos of a wedding.”

While she dreams of being a successful photographer, Arielle knows how difficult this can be. She is being pragmatic about career preparation, pursuing a Liberal Arts degree at GCC with plans to transfer to a dental hygiene program. GCC appealed to her practical side as well. “[After high school] I honestly did not know what I wanted to do,” she says. “However I still wanted to have some sort of schooling while I decided. GCC was close to home and was very inexpensive.” She finds GCC to be the perfect size. “It’s not overwhelming and the professors are all very nice and are willing to help you with anything you need.”

“Arielle is an outstanding example of a student willing to do whatever it takes to succeed,” said Business Professor Lauren Paisley. “GCC’s Entrepreneurship program, offering the option of an associate in applied science degree or certificate, is the perfect pathway for students of all ages to pursue their dream of owning their business or launching a new product or service. Arielle is a very focused student and we are supporting her efforts in every way possible.”

A President’s List full-time student, Arielle also has two part-time jobs in addition to her photography business. “Many people do not understand how I am doing all of this, but photography is my stress reliever from work and school. Many people want to sit, relax and watch TV during their down time, but I would rather be taking photos,” she says.

“Her commitment to success in all her endeavors is inspiring,” Professor Paisley said.

Arielle finds inspiration from the support of family and friends and the response she’s received to her photographs. “I have never received so much support for anything I have ever done like I do with my business,” she says. “It is my driving force.” Arielle currently shoots on location only, but is looking for a space to set up a small indoor/outdoor studio. People interested in contacting her can find her on Facebook at Photography by Arielle.

Genesee Community College offers affordable education close to home serving the GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming Counties) region of western New York. GCC offers a wide range of degree and certificate programs and flexible learning opportunities with seven campus locations and online classes. Learn more at Plan to visit one of the campus locations during Open House, Saturday, December 7, 2013. Register online at

For more information, contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email:


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Editor’s Note:

A photo of Arielle Thompson is available here: