Stacey Boyd is a photographer who gets noticed. His striking posters and commissioned photography projects grace the walls of churches, private businesses, and family homes. And his services are in high demand. But Stacey’s road to professional success was far from typical.
“With the disability, my life is the same as it always was. I used to do 10,000 things; now I do 9,999. The only thing I can’t do is walk.”
A military vet, Stacey was serving on the Fort Bragg Military Base in North Carolina in 1987 when he was in a car accident that left him with a spinal cord injury and paralysis from the chest down. Stacey spent a year recovering in the hospital and going through rehab. “I had to learn everything all over again: how to sit up, get dressed, get out of bed, and take care of myself,” he said. “It was like nothing I’d ever been through.”
When he finally got home from the hospital, Stacey had a hard time with depression. “For several years, I didn’t leave the house much. It was a different life. Nothing was the same,” he said. “But after a long time like that, one day something just clicked in me. All of a sudden, I looked around and realized, ‘this is the way it’s gonna be. I’m not gonna walk. And I’m not gonna worry about it.’” From there, Stacey said, “life moved forward.”
“I love that I am able to be a positive role model for my two sons. For them to see their dad, in a wheelchair, at home, and running a business, that is so cool.”
Over the years, Stacey began getting more and more into photography. “I was always the guy at family gatherings taking photos,” he said. Eventually, he enrolled in a photography class at Oakland Community College, and a once-hobby started to turn into a profession. “It was a sports poster that I made of my son Justin playing football that was the turning point,” he recalled. “Parents and kids saw it and loved it. They started calling me up and asking me to make ones for them.” Stacey started to think he could make something more out of his photography, and he began looking around for help in starting a business.
Stacey went to the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and got help from his counselor Merri Busch, who in turn referred him to the Ann Arbor CIL for help in launching his business, Rollin’ Photography. Over a period of several months, Ann Arbor CIL staff members Rick Weir and Cheranissa Roach helped Stacey come up with a strategic business plan, served as a sounding board for new ideas, and helped him identify new products, customers, and revenue sources. Rick and Cheranissa also helped Stacey assess what his equipment needs were and apply for funding for the equipment from the VA.
“I’m always looking for the ‘wow effect.’ I want to show people something they haven’t seen before.”
Rick and Cheranissa were instrumental in helping me get my business going,” Stacey says. “So were my family, my wife, Alicia, and my two boys, Jordan and Justin. Each person played an important part in helping me prove that doing what I love can be a financially viable business.” Stacey has now expanded far beyond his customized youth sports posters. He now does senior portraits, school class photos, professional sports photography, antique photo restoration, and artistic photo works for commissioned projects. And business is booming. “I’m busy,” he says, “and it’s all from word of mouth.”
“At the end of the day, what I love most in this job is to see the expressions on the kids’ faces. They are so excited to see the finished work,” he says referencing the children’s sports posters he does. “When I show up at an event, they all say, ‘you’re the picture man!’ It’s like nothing else.”