New portrait photography studio opens

James Fenton
Signature Photo Express owner and operator Liz Applegate talks about her studio Thursday in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – Liz Applegate describes her family as "huge," and the local photographer said she always documents the clan's annual reunions by taking plenty of pictures.

Now Applegate wants to turn her lens on the public with the recent opening of her first portrait photography studio, Signature Photo Express.

Applegate launched the business just off East Main Street late last fall and is hoping people will realize the value of documenting their family milestones with a professional touch.

"I fell in love with capturing people's faces, capturing people's memories," Applegate said. "I get on my soap box all the time — people need to not wait. People say, 'I'll take my picture when I'm 20 pounds less.' Your kids love you no matter what, and if you don't get pictures at stages of your life, they'll never have those memories."

The studio has four portrait bays with more than 30 wall finishes — classic wainscoting, barn doors and rustic wood, among others — to capture a moment of time for families, couples, individuals, friends, graduates and other combinations. The business has a sizable prop room to help add color and variety to photo shoots, she said.

Photographer Sarah Herrera and owner Liz Applegate pose for a photo Thursday at Signature Photo Express in Farmington.

Applegate, who employs four part-time photographers, said the studio charges by the number of people participating in the session. One to seven people in one 45-minute session pay $125 that will produce about 40 to 60 photos the client can pick up in an hour after the session is over.

Applegate said a family tragedy reaffirmed her commitment to helping people document the important events in their lives with the people they care about. In 2012, one of her four children, 24-year-old son Joe Applegate, died.

"You never know the last time that could be that last time," she said.

For a decade, Applegate has been a freelance photographer taking pictures at weddings and other events. She also runs a more hands-on photography business she started in 2007 called Liza Jane Photography, which specializes in newborn photography and outdoors specialty assignments.

While she takes photos of people at any age, she loves taking pictures of children the most.

"I love mostly little kids. I graduated in elementary education, so consequently, I relate to kids very well. I never grew up," she said.

A sign for Signature Photo Express is pictured Thursday in Farmington.

The license plate on her minivan reads ISHOTU, which can draw strange looks until people notice signs on the vehicle doors that advertise her new photography business.

Capturing children's fleeting smiles is a challenge that Sarah Herrera, one of Applegate's photographers, said requires ample amounts of creative problem-solving. If Herrera is desperate, she deploys the studio's "Despicable Me 2" Fart Blaster gun that rarely fails to draw a smile from young kids — and some adults — after a few blasts.

"You have to act like an idiot, almost, especially if there's kids," Herrera said. "If you're being fun, they'll be fun. It can get pretty goofy in here."

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.


More info

What: Signature Photo Express

Where: 5600 Mickey Drive, Suite E in Farmington

More info: Call 505-436-2451 or go to

What: Liza Jane Photography

More info: Call 505-402-3791 or go to