For Chris Manitius ’09 AND Caroline (Carrie) Litten ’11, becoming a photographer and clothing boutique owner wasn’t originally in the cards. Manitius, a chemistry major, initially moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, and picked up photography merely as a hobby. Litten, a philosophy major, planned a career in the media industry once in L.A., and while looking for jobs in the field, began working for a clothing boutique part time. But what started out as a hobby and part-time work soon turned into new career paths.
Litten went on to open her own boutique, Shoot the Moon, and Manitius began a career as a professional photographer. With Manitius wanting to diversify his portfolio, and Litten needing a photographer to shoot her merchandise, the two were soon introduced through Litten’s boyfriend, Matt Sullivan ’10. One day after meeting over a cup of coffee, the pair both agreed that the collaboration to take place was a no-brainer for them both.
“I gave Chris my idea of the vision for my store which was simple, chic and a little bit urban, and he definitely worked to realize my vision,” said Litten. “My favorite thing about working with Chris is definitely his creativity. He listens to what I would like to do, then he’ll make suggestions and put his own twist on it. Then we have our final product, which is my original vision, but better because of his creative eye.”
“Carrie is the easiest client I’ve ever had,” said Manitius. “She has such an easygoing approach to her that really allows me to be more relaxed while shooting.”
When they first began their collaboration, Manitius had no previous experience in shooting this type of work, but credits their similar background as to why Litten trusted him with the job. “Carrie had faith in me and took the chance to let me shoot her merchandise. She knows I have a good head on my shoulders because of my William & Mary background.”
“There was always an initial trust solely because of our connection to William & Mary,” agreed Litten.
Working together has helped to further both of their careers. For Manitius, the collaboration allowed him to try new things with studio lighting and expand his capabilities, as well as broaden his business.
Litten also attributes a huge portion of her business to Manitius’ partnership. “If I didn’t have Chris, I wouldn’t have a website. I think I could have started out without a professional photographer and studio, and put it together on my own, but that wasn’t the impression I wanted to give. I wanted a professional, clean, well-executed product, and Chris made that happen.”
Both Manitius and Litten agreed that they found it beneficial to collaborate with fellow alumni.
“If I had met with someone who I didn’t share that William & Mary connection with, I think I would have been more skeptical about the process,” said Litten. “But with Chris, I had a feeling that he would do what he said he would do, and be good at it as well.”
“I love working with people who make me feel great about where I came from,” said Manitius. “It’s great to see fellow alumni feeling inspired and following their dream. And if I can help contribute to that, it makes it that much more worthwhile.”