HOUSTON– Ferrell Phelps love photography, but knew something was missing in his life. He started out working for a photography studio in a local mall. He stayed for a few years, but he was convinced there was more to life than just working that particular job.
“Frustrated with my working environment, I asked God a question,” he said. “When is it time for me to leave this job?”
Phelps recalled the day he first fell in love with photography. It was the day he got a Nikon camera on clearance at a local department store and the manager held it for him until he got paid. He got it for just $25.
He decided to branch out and started working for a nationally known photography company. There he honed his skills and for the first time started realizing his dream.
“It was a challenge, because I was the only African American,” he said. “I felt that the recognition and rewards for my work was not forthcoming.”
During his transition to becoming self-employed, he did not get much encouragement from his former employer. However, Phelps continued working hard and developed his own concept and unique style to doing photography and business.
“Those discouraging words were just the words I needed to propel me to success,” he said. “There were naysayers but, you have to know who you are well-enough to believe what not to believe.”
His first major celebrity photo shoot was 10 minutes with Dionne Warwick here in Houston. Since that time, he has never looked back. Ferrell has been in business for over 20 years, photographing families, unvarnished fine art, the first photos of Destiny’s Child, Muhammad Ali while promoting his The Greatest cologne, Delta Burke, Nancy Wilson, Shaquille O’Neal, Angela Bassett, Kelly Price, Robert Horry and many other famous celebrities. He also had the opportunity to photograph for Sister 2 Sister Magazine and other well-known publications.
Phelps explained how much he believes in working with integrity and always being
prepared is the key to a successful photo shoot.
One of the books he referenced that inspired him to be all he could be as a photographer was, “Half past Autumn: A Retrospective” by Gordon Parks.
“People would ask me why would you mentor people who could compete with you and I would reply saying; What God has for me will be for me,” he said.
The main focus of his work is to create photographs that matter. That’s why he published a book, “In My Life Time”, in honor of President Obama. With the help of famed singer Yolanda Adams, Phelps was able to get his book to the White House book shelves.
In the future, Phelps can see himself producing short films and continuing to build a museum (or collection) of professional and artistic photos that he has collected throughout his years as a photographer.