How have the Arts impacted your life?
The arts have been a part of my life since day one; its actually how I found photography. I started off as in theatre, choir, and dance in high school, which led to me majoring in theatre in college. There was a point in college where my director needed everyone to have headshots done, and having dabbled with photography in high school I volunteered. Next thing I knew I was photographing everyone on campus. Even moving out to Atlanta was motivated by the arts. I originally came out here to act. In an effort to make ends meet I started working for a magazine as their photographer. Things just kinda took off and its been a wild ride ever since.
How did you begin your career as a photographer?
I actually got started with photography by accident. Back in high school I was that kid that didn’t really go to parties. Though I had my reasons, clearly my friends having had enough of my excuses, literally dragged me to a party they were going to. On the way to the party one of my friends needed to stop at Sears Portrait Studio to pick up some pictures she had taken. As I waited, I noticed they had a stack of blank applications. Out of sheer boredom I doodled on one and filled out the other. Two weeks later I was working there as a photographer. Its crazy how life has a way of nudging you exactly where you’re supposed to be. At the time I thought I was being dragged out to a dance, I now know I was being pushed towards my destiny.
Tell us about your company and services.
I am a brand & modern portrait photographer. I struggled for a while on how to label myself. When I first started, I thought I was a fashion photographer. I realized that fashion was a piece of what I photographed but wasn't the point of what I photographed. Then for a while I took pride in calling myself a 'celebrity photographer'. Though celebrities were a part of my portfolio, it wasn't exclusively built on them alone, and I didn't want to give the impression that I wasn't open for business for everyone. I've recently settled in on being a 'brand photographer'; creating images that make brands money. In 2020, everyone is a brand; be it a celebrity, author, influencer, chef…you name it. That means everyone is potentially a client. As a brand myself, I find it so much more mission forward to connect with those who are building their place in this world. Having the opportunity to touch their journey and help play a part in propelling them to what's next…it makes me feel like I'm part of something larger.
What should a client expect to experience when using your services?
PERSONALITY. I am not a quiet and stiff photographer. Lol I think that’s also where I have the arts to thank for my path. Theatre teaches you to let go of your inhibitions to provide each character you portray what it needs to come alive. I look at my clients the same way. If its me telling a bad dad joke, asking a client to bark, or tweaking when I meant to twerk…I offer all of myself in an effort to get my client to be generous enough to give me the same. I just believe that if a photographer takes your picture but doesn't capture you, they missed the point.
What has your entrepreneurial experience taught you thus far?
Accountability! Running your own business you wear all the hats. You are CEO, the board, marketing, human resource, employer & employee. You are solely responsible for what wings you give your brand to fly. If something isn't completed, its on me. When I first started I felt like that was a ton of pressure. It was honestly crippling and terrifying. Not being able to blame someone or something else for my circumstance or failures…but now I find myself empowered by it. That pressure pushes me. I welcome the good and the lessons. I don't say good and 'bad,' because if it grows you, makes you a better business person, or just a better person period…well then how bad could it truly be?
What advice would you give someone who seeks to become an entrepreneur?
Trust yourself. When I was trying to find the courage to quit my job back in 2015 to do photography full time, I was given advice that has stuck with me since. A friend told me, "it will work out, because you won't let yourself down." I heard her at the time, but it wasn't until s*** hit the fan that I truly learned that I can be my own pillar. I've never been someone who looks around and sees limits, only opportunity. So when I would come across a locked door, I would look inside and say "self now what?" Self would then have me looking under the mat for a spare key, an open window, or simply another door. I've learned that I am not only my own best friend, but as crazy as it sounds, I am also my own business partner. I've spent 31 years creating a me that I am proud of. If I can't trust that investment in who I've built, then I have no business trying to build anything else. All I'm saying is, give yourself some credit. You are enough. This isn't to say seeking the advice of people you trust isn't valuable, because it is. Just know that as those people come and go, you are the one constant, so learn with yourself now so you can earn with yourself later.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
I’ve been saying this forever, but I would love to be signed to an agency within the next few years. I want my photography to reach a bigger audience and be considered for larger projects, so having someone actively pushing for my success with me would be incredible. Outside of that, I don’t want to limit my path based on what little my eyes can see. From Sears Portrait Studio in 2007 through quitting my job in 2015 to the craziness of 2020, I’m finally learning to just trust the process. When it's all said and done I hope to see myself just as grateful and excited in 2025 to be continuing with this journey as I am today.
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