Who is Cynthia Cephas?
She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and after earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion, she moved to Maryland to work in a lab at Quest Diagnostics. Eventually, she moved from the lab to working in sales and had a successful 17-year sales career in the medical diagnostics field. Today she owns Cynthia Cephas Photography.
What inspired you to get into photography?
Inspired by her father, she was nine years old when she began taking photographs. Her father was the appointed family photographer while growing up and would always take pictures during family events and capture scenes from the great outdoors. Back then, like her father, having a camera with her was just a part of who she was.
When did you know you wanted to make your love of photography a business?
She always knew she would eventually be working for herself. At her corporate job, she learned a lot about sales and skills related to managing and running a business. A trip to Europe, including Greece, where she took some beautiful landscape pictures, sparked a plan. The trip inspired her to enroll in a digital photography certification program at Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) when she returned to the states.
While still working at her corporate job, she completed the digital photography certification program and soon after, established her sole proprietorship Cynthia Cephas Photography. Eventually, she left her corporate job to pursue her photography business full time. Cynthia Cephas Photography specializes in providing studio-quality executive, staff, and team headshots on location, as well as photography services for corporate events. It is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certified company through the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) in Prince George’s County.
How did you learn about FSC First, and what made you come to FSC First for support during the COVID-19 pandemic?
She learned about FSC First and the COVID-19 relief initiative grant through the Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC). The Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce often holds events where members and non-members participate and learn about resources available to support local businesses.
How did the grant from FSC First help your business?
The COVID-19 Relief initiative grant from FSC First helped her fill in the gaps of lost revenue due to the Covid pandemic. One of her contracts was with the Bowie Town Center, where she served as a Santa photographer helping families capture warm moments in photos during the holiday season. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of that contract, so receiving the relief grant helped sustain her business into the following year. She kept the connection with the client and was able to resume as their photographer in 2021.
What has your participation in Level Up been like?
Once her business got back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic ended, she decided to up her business technical skills and registered for FSC First’s Level Up program, which offers small businesses technical assistance. She shared that her biggest pain point in running her company has been the accounting part. She enrolled in the Level Up Financial Management Training Series (FMTS). The information she learned is helping her better understand the accounting for her business.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Her goals include managing her own commercial studio space and increasing her community partnerships. She has already done work for Prince George’s County, MGM and DC water and envisions her company working with more large local businesses. Cynthia is inspired by other successful photographers of today and is excited about the future.
To learn more about the Level Up program, visit our website: https://fscfirst.com/level-up/