Today's Photographer Profile, featuring husband-and-wife team Ben and Laura Harrison, is a special one celebrating #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. The Harrisons' new company, Jonas Paul Eyewear, is a brand of children’s eyewear with a mission to provide function and new form to children’s vision with fun, fashion-forward eyewear options. Ben and Laura founded the company in an effort to find stylish eyewear for their visually impaired son, Jonas, after discovering such options did not really exist in the children’s market. Since its founding just last year, the company has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and in a campaign with fashion heavyweight H&M, and has also recently developed an exclusive line for Tea Collection, another children's fashion brand. Through its Buy Sight, Give Sight program, Jonas Paul Eyewear also provides sight to those in need through its partnership with CBM International.
You'd think that running this up-and-coming company and raising a toddler would be more than enough to keep a couple busy, but Ben and Laura are also destination wedding photographers with Harrison Studio and also head up a few other companies in the web design and creative space. Suffice it to say, this power couple is making waves!
Ben Harrison carries the Union Street in Smoke.
ONA: How did you get into photography?
BH: I grew up with a big imagination, a love for anything outdoors, and a slight obsession with animals and bugs. I remember at a very young age being captivated with the imagery in National Geographic from photographers like Steve McCurry, and dreamed of someday being the photographer traveling the world making exotic people and locations accessible to those who aren’t able to visit them. I began playing with my parents vintage Yashica film camera and I was hooked. I continued to pursue photography through undergrad and got my Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Kendall College of Art & Design.
LH: I always had an appreciation for art, but it wasn’t until I began dating Ben that I pursued an interest in photography. I began assisting Ben on shoots and fell in love with photography. I guess you could say I got hooked right away and feel in love with the art. The camera is an amazing tool and I love creating beautiful imagery with it.
BH & LH: We shoot Canon 5D Mark III’s and our “go to” lenses are 50mm 1.2 L and 85mm 1.2 L.
BH & LH: There are so many aspects of nature and the visual world that inspire our creativity, but with the recent birth of our visually impaired son, Jonas, we have found a whole new way of experiencing the world. He has inspired us, as visual artists, to focus on experiencing the world utilizing all of our senses… and has also changed our perspective of beauty, be it the natural world or how we see people around us.
When we found out our son would need glasses at a very young age, we set out to find him the coolest glasses we could find.To our surprise, kids' glasses were still focusing purely on function, often at the expense of a child not feeling beautiful in his or her glasses.This inspired us to use creativity and ingenuity to provide function and new form to children’s vision with fashion-forward eyewear options and thus the birth of Jonas Paul Eyewear.
It has been awesome to hear the countless stories from parents who tell us that for the first time their child feels beautiful in his or her glasses. Boosting the self-confidence and self-esteem of a child is a seemingly unquantifiable impact, especially in today’s beauty obsessed society.
And through our Buy Sight, Give Sight program we have been able to make an even larger impact by providing eye tests and glasses to those without access as well life altering sight-giving cataract surgeries through the highly skilled doctors of Christian Blind Mission.
ONA: Describe your style of shooting.
BH & LH: Our desire is to create beautiful and authentic imagery.
BH & LH: Finding balance. Self employment brings a lot of benefits with freedom and flexibility, but at the same time it brings a drawback in the sense of not being able to replicate yourself or “turn off” your business. Being a husband and wife team, we found it incredibly beneficial to set boundaries for work so that we could still maintain a healthy personal life.
BH & LH: Find your style of photography and focus on the one area of photography that inspires your creativity the most. Don’t try to be a jack-of-all trades or be everything to everyone, as you will quickly find yourself getting burned out and not having an area of expertise to sustain you and your business.
ONA: How did you hear about us?
BH: I was getting tired of all photography bags being purely functional so I set out to find a company that made on-trend bags that happened to also be camera bags… and I finally found ONA! I love the styling of the bags and especially love that they are highly functional without having to “look” functional. I can’t remember exactly where I first saw ONA online but I believe it may have been through our friends Troy and Aimee Grover.
Note: Photos of Jonas Paul Eyewear were kindly taken by Amy Wenzel.
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