Needing a break and stepping away from real estate in 2022, Crystle Cooney never imagined she’d be able to jump back into the industry and utilize her photography skills. But then kwELITE came calling with a media director role.
“After some time off, (kwELITE Broker) Renee Mueller approached me with the idea of joining kwELITE. I had experience in both real estate and photography and she had a position open that married both talents,” Cooney recalled.
“I was a little hesitant; however, after many discussions, I could see value in what she was offering and decided to go for it. How do you know if you don’t try?”
As media director, Cooney is a licensed Realtor who puts her photography skills to good use by handling all listing photography and drone videos for kwELITE. She’s also part of the marketing team, assisting with graphic design across social media platforms, photo/video needs throughout the building; and handles photography and layout design for VRLY’s monthly “Something Good Magazine.”
In a lot of ways, Cooney’s career has come full circle. Although born in Omaha, she proudly considers Columbus her hometown having lived here since she was 3.
“Growing up in Columbus was great,” she said. “I have the typical memories of riding my bike and playing with the neighborhood kids; coming home when the street lights came on or when I heard my mom whistle.”
It was in those early days as a kid in Columbus she developed a knack for photography. Cooney credited her mother and grandmother for her creative spirit, noting those two were “very crafty.” She was about 7 when she began experimenting with a camera and went from there.
“ I had a new puppy and I would pose him along with my stuffed animals and take photos. I don’t have any formal training in photography,” she said.
“Everything I know I’ve learned from my own research either on the internet or from friends who’ve been kind enough to help me out, and of course, good ol’ trial and error. I’ve enjoyed taking photos of my own children and for family and friends over the past 14 years or so.”
This last year, she decided to take her love for photography to the next level by turning it into a business, Crystle Cooney Photography. She offers birth photography, as well as handles children, seniors, family, engagements and dance/sports.
“And if you’ve got a new idea, I’m open to it! I love learning new things,” Cooney said.
“I love documenting family memories. I think it is so important. My kids used to roll their eyes every time I pulled the camera out, but they’re used to it now. They only complain some of the time. A photo can capture a memory, a feeling, or a moment in time. It can remind you of a time in your life, how you were feeling, etc. When they say a picture is worth a thousand words, they’re right. I love being able to capture those moments for people to cherish forever.”
Of course, photography is just one aspect of Cooney’s life. She started her real estate career in 2017, being inspired by shows she watched on HGTV.
“I have a servant’s heart and I love to help others and I thought that this, coupled with my love of HGTV would work well together, so, why not give it a try?” she said. “Seeing the joy on your clients’ faces when you help them achieve their real estate goals is something that’s hard to beat.”
She’s also a proud family woman. She and her husband, Doug, have been married for 17 years. They have three sons: Taylor, 16; Brayden, 14; and Carter, 9. A lot of her time goes to watching and supporting her sons at their activities and sporting events, though she also enjoys hanging out with friends and spending as much time outdoors as possible. Do-it-yourself projects are also a hobby.
“Most recently, my husband and I built a desk and shelving for our home office,” Cooney said. “Although I did elicit some help from him for this project, I love the feeling of learning something new and tackling it on my own. It’s so rewarding!”
A Columbus High School alumna, Cooney said she’s determined to grow her photography business and continue to thrive in her role at kwELITE.
“kwELITE has been amazing. The organization and continuous training that kwELITE has implemented for their agents and staff are unparalleled,” she said.
“The atmosphere is so welcoming, the agents and staff are kind, knowledgeable and uplifting and the management understands the importance of family, which above all, was very important to me. It’s been a great fit!”