Today we’d like to introduce you to Genaé Parnell.
Hi Genaé, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I’m Genaé Parnell born and raised in Kansas City, MO. Started my career in aviation at the age of 14, flying small Cessna’s. Got my private pilot license at the age of 18 and opportunities flowed afterwards. Working in the airline industry, I enjoyed the perks of free flights and traveling. Always been a nomad, attending 3 different universities in 3 different states, moved to Indianapolis for a job opportunity where I discovered hiking as a hobby. While on these hikes I started to take photos with my Galaxy 5S phone and I would travel on weekends, taking day trips to visit some of the coolest canyons. I noticed I would get a lot of buzz on IG about my photos. Soon after I got hired at Hawaiian Airlines, you guess it, I moved to Honolulu, HI. My little brother, Gene Parnell, bought me my first camera as a going-away present. This was the beginning of Sonāe Photography. I took pictures of everything in Hawaii, and hiking was endless. The views were insane, I couldn’t get enough. Although I hated my job, I loved living there to capture everything I did. Falling into depression of not feeling fulfilled, thinking that life only consisted of work and paying bills, I soon realized that the most important thing was that I found something that I was good at and did it effortlessly. I had to think back of when I was a kid, how I enjoyed art and wrote fictional stories, using my imagination to its capacity. To now as an adult seeing stories with my eye and capturing the words with a camera. Taking landscape photos of every hike, every sunset, every sunrise, and endless oceans, I would find myself just wandering in bliss of the beauty of earth. Unfortunately, I was at my highest and my lowest while in living in Hawaii, alone. I lost my job and moved back home to Kansas City where there was love. Everyone that followed me on social media was so eager to work with me, collab, or take their photo. I soon upgraded my camera and went straight to work as a portrait photographer. Since I’ve only used Sony products, I decided to fuse Sony with my name, Sonāe (corny I know, but I’m sticking with it). I’ve been honored to capture pictures of some Kansas City’s most favorite people and making connections where we continue to work together. During the pandemic, I expanded my website and started selling prints, merch, and became the first black-owned camera supply store. In the near future, I want to own property in Hawaii and have a vacation home. Once a nomad, always a nomad, I’ll be moving from Kansas City in the near future, who knows where to. But for now, I will indulge in the love and support of this city, for it is Home.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Dealing with depression, alone while living Hawaii. I wasn’t homesick; I just felt a void thinking there has to be more to life. I was searching for my purposes, not realizing I’d been fulfilling it this whole time with photography. When I moved back home, I actually did therapy for the first time and things have been life-changing ever since.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I take landscape, portrait, and product content photos. I sell merch, my landscape prints of Hawaii, and camera gear/supplies.
I’m so proud to be the first black-owned camera supply store in Kansas City.
The thing that sets me apart from others is that I ensure all of my clients have an experience, not just a photo session. I’m their biggest hype man, I direct with intention, I teach people how to comfortably pose, and I’m hilarious. I’m blessed to always have clients return for more of my work. Making people feel comfortable is my gift because deep down, I’m always the one uncomfortable full of anxiety lol.
Any big plans?
In the near future, I plan on quitting my 9-5 job and being a full-time stocks investor AND expanding my camera supply store. Hopefully, one day work with Sony to improve cameras/lenses or even come up with my own Camera line, who knows *wink wink*
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.sonaephotography.com
- Instagram: @sonae_photography
- Facebook: Genae Parnell / Business Page: SONĀE