By Jan Todd
Anna (Hanselman) Ulery, an ’04 graduate, describes her job as “capturing moments of fun.” As a portrait photographer and the owner/operator of Boone Photo Booth, Ulery said, “Encouraging people to laugh, be themselves and come out of their shell is what I do best!”
While at Appalachian State University, Ulery earned a B.S. in industrial technology with a concentration in technical photography — equivalent to today’s major in commercial photography.
Ulery and her husband created Boone Photo Booth in 2014. They set up their booth at weddings, parties, company gatherings and community events, using a professional camera, lighting and printing technology to provide prints on-site for instant mementos for guests at the events.
“Engaging clients and their guests in the experience is what I love most about my job,” Ulery said.
Ulery, who grew up in Rutherford County, developed an interest in photography at an early age. “I was given my first 110 mm camera as a young girl, and I remember posing and photographing my dolls all lined up,” she said. In high school, Ulery was a photographer on the yearbook staff.
She started out at Appalachian as a psychology major before considering photography as a career option. Taking photos on a trip to California during her first year at Appalachian changed her perspective.
Afterward, “On a whim, I decided to check out the photography department, and (the late) John Scarlata (professor and coordinator of the photography program) encouraged me to pursue my true dream of being a photographer,” she said.
“I was blessed to be mentored by incredible people while at Appalachian,” Ulery said. “John Scarlata encouraged my growth as a student and as an individual. His critiques were honest but tough, enlightening and encouraging.”
Minoring in media studies, Ulery said professors in Appalachian’s Department of Curriculum and Education played roles of encouragement and leadership, including Jeff Goodman, now senior lecturer in media studies, plus Drs. David Considine and Jeff Fletcher, both since retired.
“I would encourage prospective students who are interested in the visual arts to seriously consider Appalachian for a well-rounded educational experience,” Ulery said. “My experience was certainly conducive to intellectual and personal growth, and I am so thankful for the professors who were diligent and committed to making my time there a success.”
Ulery served as a photography lab assistant in both departments. “Mentoring and teaching other students was a highlight during my time at Appalachian,” she said.
She also completed two internships:
- At David Crosby’s commercial photography studio in Hickory, she shot studio images for Corning Glass using large format equipment.
- At COPAC, now Quad/Graphics, a printing company in Spartanburg, South Carolina, she learned different printing techniques.
“I would encourage students to do as many internships as possible to discover where their real-world interests lie,” Ulery said.
After graduating from Appalachian, Ulery stayed in Boone and worked as a studio manager and assistant to local photographer Jonathon Burton. “I was his second shooter at weddings, portrait sessions and commercial photo shoots. I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in the fields of photography and business,” she said.
Ulery said she feels rewarded when she hears how her photography services are important to others. Recently, she received a call from a prospective bride who had seen Boone Photo Booth in action at a friend’s wedding reception.
“The bride said she ‘had to have us,’” Ulery said. “She wasn’t getting married until she secured our availability — no venue, no wedding date chosen yet. What an honor! That is why I do what I do.”