Today we’d like to introduce you to Jewels Gray.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jewels. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My story in Photography starts from when I was a kid. I grew up around it as my Father is a Photographer. I shot for the yearbook in High School but never considered it as a career. I actually wanted to be a makeup or special effects artist in Hollywood but my path brought me to Denver instead.
I went to Art School (or at least a poor representation of what I thought “art school” should be), and at the nine-month mark, I dropped out and went on tour as an assistant to a metal band! After six months of that debauchery, I came back to Denver and worked in the local music scene. That adventure lasted for eight years!
I met my (now ex) husband who was a Photographer working in music, and we decided to start our own business after getting married. For the first six years of our business, I did everything except for actually shooting. I did all the marketing, taxes, sales, networking, meetings etc. I was the face of our business. On shoots, I would Assist by holding lights, finding the locations, posing the clients and working with the vendors. Finally, I got bored. I would be at a wedding and after getting through the ceremony, formal photos, etc. then came to the reception and I didn’t have much to do. That’s when I picked up the camera and started shooting details and candids.
For me, it came naturally. I was already artistic, so I understood composition, lighting, color, etc. Overall, I just needed to learn the equipment and fine-tune my skills. I am very creative so I started designing styled shoots on my own. These shoots gave me really great practice in all areas of photography and this is when I started to get better.
Eventually, my marriage didn’t make it, and I was on my own. On my own in life and business. I took a lot of “leaps of faith” that first year. I made some mistakes but it was refreshing being able to just do what I want and not have to answer to anyone.
My business exploded. I went from “Why aren’t I reaching my goals?” year after year to not only reaching them but surpassing them! It was so validating and exciting!
That was five years ago. Every year has been better than the last and I am incredibly blessed to still be doing this. Most days, it doesn’t feel like “work” (only when I get backed up with processing or having to pay taxes does it feel like a job). My camera takes me to the most beautiful places around the world and I love my clients. Most importantly, this business gives me the freedom to be able to make the time for the most important people in this world, and that’s my kids.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like any true artist, I struggle with not feeling like my work is “good enough”. I am always trying to do better light, better pose, and find ways to take better care of my clients. I think I do a pretty damn good job but it’s never “good enough” in my book.
Keeping people around me to help has been a challenge. I always get gung-ho about hiring someone and expect a lot from them…only to have them move on to other things no matter how “hungry” they seemed in the beginning. I keep coming back to being a “one-woman-show”.
Being self-employed is never easy. You end up working many more hours than a 9-5, you can’t ever really get away from it, and you find yourself overwhelmed at times. Despite all that, I wouldn’t trade it for the rat race of a 40 hr week job for a minute!
We’d love to hear more about your work.
With the “everyone is a photographer” market these days, I have made it my mission to stand out! From my brand-messaging to my personal appearance to my shooting and editing style. I strive to be different dramatic, creative and badass.
I love to shoot dramatic images with a rock and roll or fashion-forward flair while still capturing the emotion behind it. The cinematic and editorial approach is what connects my clients to their images and my portfolio.
I am not one of these come-and-go or “weekend warriors” photographers. This is my full-time (plus) job. I don’t have a “day job” I go to during the week or a second income in my home to fall back on. It’s “do or die” sink or swim go big or go home.
I love fashion photography and have an eye for detail… also a hair and makeup artist, I can make adjustments on site that most other photographers may not notice, or know how to fix.
What sets me apart is not only my style but my approach. Working in music before doing weddings primed me to be the perfect balance between being able to anticipate moments help with planning and keeping things on time and working with big personalities in a (sometimes) stressful environment. I can take charge or blend into the background and knowing when to do both has got to be a talent.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
There is no luck. Everything I have has been through hard work. Late and sleepless nights, passion and perseverance. I’ve never been handed anything in my life. My mentor once said, “Hard work will always win over entitlement. If you want something, you have to go out there and work your ass off for it every single damn day.” No truer words have ever been spoken.
- Wedding collections range from $3499 – $7999
- Portrait sessions start at $349
- Address: 3525 Walnut Street, Ste. 26
Denver, CO 80205in the Walnut Workshops building
- Website: https://jewelsgray.com
- Phone: 720.771.2200
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/photosbyjewels
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photosbyjewelsgray
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/photosbyjewels