Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teri Joy Photography: Capturing you JOY in Images

It brings me great JOY to be able to help people, especially those hard working entrepreneurs out there.  Today, CCM blog begins a new series that will hopefully carry on for many years.  Our inaugural guest blogger for Entrepreneurs Inspire! is none other than Teri Gordon.  If you read one of the "Most Popular Posts" on this blog: One-san-diego-co-arcc-office-dear-to-my... then you are already familiar with Teri's great work.  She was our wedding photographer!  Enjoy her story....

Hi, my name is Teri Joy Gordon of Teri Joy Photography,, located in Carlsbad, CA.

Teri Joy Portrait and Event Photography officially began in 2009, but the idea for my own photography business was really something I had been pondering for quite some time.  When I was eight, I started oil painting.  I loved art!  My parents bought me a paint box that was as tall as I was back then, and I lugged this box around to my art classes.  Several years later, I attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.  I ended up as a clothing buyer and worked as the print and television ad model for Maison Blanche, the second largest department store chain in Louisiana at the time.  

Life Change

In 1984 I returned to college.  I attended Fairleigh Dickinson School of Dentistry and then NYU.  I became a licensed Dental Hygienist.  I worked part-time as a Clinical Hygienist and I also designed and implemented dental plans for insurance companies. About twenty three years ago, I picked up “the camera” for the first time.  From the moment my first daughter, Brielle, was born in 1990 my finger happily depressed the shutter button.  Photography became a vehicle for my artistic expression and awakened within me a total joy to artistically capture my child’s life.  Completely immersed in the experience of photographing her, I purchased a more advanced 35mm film camera.  I also began to self-critique the images I was taking and always looked to improve my skill-set and technique.

As time passed, and as my strength behind the camera grew, I gladly took the opportunity to take pictures when handed a camera at events we would attend.  Eventually, I bought Photoshop and took classes at Mira Costa College and UC San Diego to learn its use.  While there I befriended other helpful photographers, and built up my network of contacts!

I was hired to capture a family reunion and then an 80th birthday party for pay.  I believe this is when the transition from photography being merely a hobby to becoming a profession emerged.  My next clients hired me to take their engagement portraits.  However, I guess you can say that I “officially” became a professional Photographer when I was hired to shoot my first wedding in 2010.

The Plan Changes Out of Necessity

My plan for earning an income was to continue Dental Hygiene until my photography business was strong enough to provide a living, since Photography as an industry is highly competitive.  However, I have limitations with my left hand from all the chronic work I did in dentistry.  The orthopedic hand specialist I saw told me that practicing Dental Hygiene was no longer an option.  Photography is a field with thousands of people, all with the latest digital cameras desiring to become a professional.  Though, I feel fueled by the passion I have when meeting people, and guiding them through their photography sessions with me.  My trademark, if you will, is my ability to have a photographic session with someone and help their apprehension melt away.  I have a keen sense (from my experience as a model) of what it’s like to stand in front of a camera ~ it can be terrifying!

Business Recommendations

My focus (no pun intended) since 2009 has been photography.  The first couple of years of my business, I provided many free photography sessions.  Or when I was charging, my pricing was extremely low in order to obtain clients.  However, my living expenses were not being met.  I under-utilized many social media sites, networking groups and really felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of other photographers vying for the same jobs.  It takes time to know one’s strengths as a photographer and which markets to reach out to.  But you have to get your name out there.  That is why I recommend to others looking to start a similar business to just do as many shoots as you can at first.

See if Pet, Architecture, Product, Fashion, Event or Family Portraiture is where your strengths are as a photographer.  Also, do not underestimate the power of social media.  Do a great job with the people who have entrusted you to capture the important moments of their lives, even if you accept a job when they are not paying you. When you accept your first job - Be Ready.  

Good luck to all of you aspiring photographers out there!

When not working, Teri can be found at home in Carlsbad, CA with her two adult daughters and pets.

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