We are all aware of the damage COVID-19 has brought on society. However, through the hardships of sickness, many have been urged to do some deep internal evaluation on their personal lives and reflect on dreams previously stored on the shelf.

Lawrenceville, NJ resident, Claudia McKithen, was one of those people. The proud Colombian immigrant raised in Queens, NY spent the isolated, pandemic-ridden year contemplating returning to her passion for taking photographs. Her reflection led her to open up a photography studio right here in the capital city.

“I’ve been considering it for probably, a little over a year, to kind of take the leap and open a studio,” said McKithen. “I feel that [COVID-19] just pushed me to take that leap and be like, ‘it is now or never.’ I just took a leap of faith and I decided to just open it. I think it was a great decision.”

Claudia McKithen shaking hands with Mayor W. Reed Gusciora at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Claudia McKithen Photography | Photo provided by Claudia McKithen

On Sunday, June 13, Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and The City of Trenton officially welcomed Claudia McKithen Photography to 439 S. Broad Street – Suite 210 with a ribbon cutting, grand opening ceremony. The joyous opening was a familiar feeling for McKithen.

“I actually had a studio back nine years ago, almost 10, on South Clinton Avenue,” said McKithen. “Unfortunately, I had to close it at that time, but I always had that little bug. So, I felt that now was a good time for me to just get back into it and really go full steam with it again and open up a place.”

Between McKithen’s former studio to today’s new one, friends and acquaintances have continuously asked for McKithen to use her photography skills for events. Whether that be parties, weddings, graduations, etc. – for any form of celebration, McKithen is trusted and called upon to do the job.

Although she finds great joy in taking event photography and providing still images of precious moments in many peoples lives (and will continue to do so through her new business), McKithen felt something was missing without her own photography space.

Sample photograph of Claudia McKithen’s work | Photo by Claudia McKithen

“I feel like I was leaving a lot on the table by not having my studio,” she said. “I get called pretty often for events. It could be birthday parties, they could be graduation parties or even weddings, [but] my specialty is mostly portraiture; just working with families, taking pictures of children.”

For McKithen, it is important to have those special moments captured with photos. As she kicks off her newly revived studio, she looks forward to providing the community of Trenton with long-lasting memories.

She said, “In Trenton, the demographic is mostly minority and being a minority myself, I feel like I can offer so much to the community as far as providing great pictures at affordable prices that people can just have on their mantel.”

Although it has been a number of years since McKithen has had her own studio to share her work, she is grateful that there was at least one positive push that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes we feel like, ‘Oh, this is a good opportunity, but I’ll wait, because this is maybe not the right time,’ or you don’t have a sufficient capital, or so many different things that could come into play, but I feel that COVID definitely gave me that push that I needed to take that step,” said McKithen. “So many bad things happened and so many people have gone through so many losses and whatnot. Thankfully in my family, we didn’t, but it kind of makes you think; we have this one life, why not just do things now?”

For more information about Claudia McKithen Photography, visit: www.claudiamckithen.com