Weekend hobby turns into full-time career for local photographer – Winston-Salem Chronicle

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Alphonso Abbott Jr.
On a whim about seven years ago, Alphonso Abbott Jr. bought a camera at a local pawn shop to take photos at his son’s youth football games and other sports. “It started with my son. I used to just shoot all his sports and then people just started asking for pictures,” Abbott said. 
What started out as a hobby, just something he did on the weekends, has grown to become a way of life, so much so that over a year ago, Abbott quit his job and decided to pursue photography full time. Abbott, the man behind Jr.’s Action Shots, said the decision to take a leap of faith and bet on himself was one of the best decisions he ever made. 
When discussing the day he decided to pursue photography full time, Abbott said he had dreamt about it and the next day he went to work and turned in his badge. 
“I had to be at work at five in the morning and I woke up that morning and turned in my badge. That vision was so real and it felt good to be able to do what I wanted to do,” Abbott continued. “It’s probably one of the greatest decisions I ever made because I’ve proved so many people wrong; a lot of people were doubting me.”
Abbott said he perfected the craft by watching other photographers like Brian Reid, Jay Galloway, Andrew Dye, Tim Wilson, Toni Shaw and several others. He said it also took a lot of practice. Abbott said he would spend hours shooting and editing photos. 
“I would just go outside and shoot and come back and edit, that’s really how I got into it. They taught me the basics, but I was just so inspired by their work that it pushed me to be better than them and keep going,” Abbott said.
The South Fork Panthers, a local youth football organization, was the first to give Abbott the opportunity to take photos from the sideline. And soon after that, several other organizations like the Winston-Salem Indians, Winston-Salem Warriors, Union Cross Bobcats, and Greensboro Jr. Aggies reached out to Abbott. They weren’t the only one’s taking notice of Jr.’s Action Shots. Around the same time, several local high schools started reaching out to him and it wasn’t long before he was doing graduation shoots, prom and engagement photos, headshots, weddings, and contributing to The Chronicle. 
Abbott said he was nervous at first about venturing away from sports photography and shooting more events and portraits, but he had faith in himself. 
“Don’t get me wrong, my first wedding I was nervous, but I refused to say no because if I say no, I’m telling myself I can’t do it, so I just went ahead and tried it,” Abbott said. 
Although he has had the opportunity to shoot several famous people including international tennis star CoCo Gauf, NBA star Zion Williamson, Bernie Sanders, and the late Biz Markie, Abbott said what he has enjoyed the most is watching local youth athletes grow into college athletes through his lens. “One of the biggest things to me is when I get to see some of the players I shot in Pop Warner on the college level. Like Christian Beal. When I see him at Wake Forest, or J.K. Henry who went to West Forsyth … and now Amari Marshall at Wake Forest, I think that’s dope,” Abbott said.
No matter if he’s shooting Zion Williamson at the LJVM Coliseum, Carver’s JV team in the Lash/Chronicle Tournament, or a birthday party, Abbott puts the same time and effort into every photo he takes, and that’s what sets him apart. He said when he first started taking photography seriously, a friend told him to never post anything or give anyone a product he wasn’t proud of, and that has stuck with him. 
“It’s my name behind it and that means a lot, so everything I put out I want it to be like the best of the best. It doesn’t matter what age they are, I’m going to give it my all,” he continued. “Like I said, it’s your name and this is my full-time job, so I have to make sure everything I do is on point. If it’s not the best, I don’t even want it out there.” 
When asked what the future holds for Jr.’s Action Shots 10 years from now, Abbott said he wants to partner with more schools in the area, and eventually build a team. 
“I want to expand out of Winston-Salem, at least go a little further, hopefully see my name in South Carolina. I want it to be a brand. I have a lot of great ideas I want to implement, but I’m going to need a team.”
For booking information and to see some of Abbott’s work, visit https://www.jrsactionshots.com/. 

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