Casper Start-Up finalist Audrey Jeans aiming to export child-as-hero custom storybook concept to studios

CASPER, Wyo. — With 25 years of experience as a studio photographer and conceptual artist, Audrey Jeans is looking to turn one of her studio’s innovations into a national corporation with Picture My Story.

She’s the “Audie” of Audie Jeans Photography (it’s easier for the kids to say) and is one of six finalists this year competing for up to $50,000 in the sixth Casper Start-Up Challenge. The final pitch night is Tuesday, April 19, at 5:30 p.m.

Audrey told Oil City that her studio first developed the concept of using portrait photography and graphic design to make children the stars of their own storybook about four years ago, beginning with a Santa-themed story and sets.

Now she’s working with a team of creative writers, graphic designers, and costume designers to elaborate on the concept with themes Mommy and Me, Mermaid World, Pirate World, Gone Fishing, and Pumpkin Patch. The team just debuted a duck pond set that was three months in development.

With the elaborate sets created in the studio, Audrey said the shoots themselves are like a “stay-cation” experience for children, where they get to interact with imagined worlds, fantasy characters, and real ducks. 

“They’re really these interactive experiences that children become part of,” Audrey said, “and photography is just the added bonus because they get a keepsake that they’re the main character in.”

Not only do the elaborately illustrated books — there’s art on every page — provide the clients with “a legacy product that can be handed down through the generations,” Audrey is looking to help children’s social and emotional development with stories “written to tap on character traits and [themes of] identity, belonging, and the joy of childhood.”

Audrey added that her team was also developing a storyline focused on helping children cope with the loss of a pet. Eventually, she’s hoping work to with counselors to develop storybooks that deal with more complex, challenging themes like trauma.

Audrey said Picture My Story is the business that is looking to package this concept, including the stories and software library, as “out-of-the-box” intellectual property to sell to other studios.

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