Rou Dimitriou, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, had a passion for photography while growing up, but rather than go to art school to pursue it, her head told her to choose a “safe” career in marketing. Years later, when she was a stay-at-home mom, she picked up her camera again to photograph her kids. Soon, this self-taught photographer’s stunning images were getting noticed, and when a friend hired Rou to shoot an event, one job quickly led to another. As her work appeared on social media and friends recommended her, Eroula Dimitriou Photography, aka Rou Shoots, became the career she had always dreamed about. Today, Rou’s unique and dreamy style of capturing emotion and documenting life’s little moments is evident in every shot she takes, from newborns to maternity to portraits, family, lifestyle, and even boudoir shoots. We caught up with this Fort Lee mom of three to talk about how a certain celeb family helped her career take off (hint: they have 7 kids), tips for getting a great holiday shot, and the Bergen County spot she takes her family for delicious, healthy Greek food.
Tell me a little bit about your family. I’m happily divorced and live in Fort Lee with my three kids— Melina, 13; Johnny, 11; and Emmy, 9. It’s where I grew up. For a while, I lived in Englewood Cliffs, a great town too, but I feel very at home in Fort Lee—I love the diverse group of people and sense of community, plus my parents and brother are here.
What was the “aha” moment for Rou Shoots and the first steps you took to get your business started? I’ve always loved photography–it’s been a lifelong passion of mine–but I decided to follow a “safer” route in college. Rather than go to art school, I got a degree in Communication from NYU, which I am grateful for because my marketing, public relations, and advertising experience helped me package myself as a brand. I left my marketing job to be a stay-at-home mom when my kids were born, but I quickly became camera happy like many moms with newborns. That’s when I started to take the camera more seriously, learning everything I could about using it. Initially, I didn’t feel qualified to be a professional photographer, but a good friend insisted on booking me for one of her events, and everything just snowballed from there. My business has grown organically—I’d post on social media where one thing always led to, and my business took off. And then, within the next year or so, I did my first photo shoot for the Baldwin family (Alec, Hilaria, and their beautiful children), which helped my business grow by leaps and bounds.
Rou’s beautiful photos have caught the attention of celebrities and are featured in magazines.
What were the first steps you took to get your business started? I collected my best work and curated a portfolio. Then, I designed a website and created an LLC so everything would be by the books. Word of mouth and Instagram have been my most significant source of clients.
What do you hope your children learn from seeing you run your own business? This question struck home because when I was a stay-at-home mom (which is so rewarding on so many levels), I’d ask my oldest daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up. She’d say she didn’t want to be anything, but her answers changed soon after I started my photography business in 2014. She’d say that she wanted to be a photographer or something else at other times. Her view changed when I was passionate about what I did, which was a real awakening for me. I think it’s good for children to see ambition in their parents. I hope they learn to pursue their passions as I did and continue to develop and improve the skills they do have.
With the holidays coming up, please share your advice on getting an excellent holiday shot. Don’t put pressure on yourself or the kids—have fun with it. Pick a time of day when everyone is well fed, well rested, and dressed for the weather, and don’t aim to have a perfect shot with everyone looking at and smiling for the picture. Instead, capture a moment. Capture a mood. You can ask silly questions or bring up funny memories to get a reaction, and definitely have the kids interact with each other.
If you could photograph anyone or anything, who or what would it be, and why would you choose them? Though I don’t have a specific person in mind, I always love when someone is willing to let their guard down and show me raw emotion. I was inspired by a client that reached out years ago saying she had lost her husband and felt ugly for years while mourning and wanted to do a boudoir shoot to feel better about herself. After watching her transform in front of my eyes, I knew I wanted to continue doing boudoir shoots to make more women feel beautiful and confident and see themselves differently. And I also love shooting editorial work where I have complete creative control. Both of these are dream scenarios.
Rou likes photographing everything from newborns and maternity to events, families, portraits, lifestyle, boudoir, fitness, and even headshots. Photo Credit: @roushoots
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? When I can’t cook for my family, It’s Greek to Me is my go-to. It’s the closest thing to good, clean, healthy home cooking. Absolutely everything is delicious, but I usually go for seafood and shrimp dishes. Another favorite business is UFC Gym in East Rutherford. I started boxing in 2016 and do it 4-6 times a week because I love how you can let it all out. Generally speaking, for the last several years, fitness has been a real passion of mine, so I teach a weight lifting HIIT class in a corporate gym once a week, which is just the right amount to keep my fitness interest satiated. I also love Hemp & Honey in Edgewater, which has unparalleled customer service, and they carry a broad range of CBD and whole hemp products, including skincare, bath, food, and pet products.
Please share some places in NJ that you and your family enjoy. My kids love everything about Asbury Park. The beach, boardwalk, and downtown area are the best on the shore. We also like to visit the boat basins along the Hudson River. Though it’s not officially a beach, it feels like it is because there is sand. And as a treat, my kids really like going to Houston’s, where we almost always order the spinach dip and salad and finish the meal with an ice cream sundae.
What’s your best piece of advice for an NJMOMpreneur just starting? Let go of ego and embarrassment; don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and extend yourself. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of being as organized as possible from the very start.