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Meet Tim Gillies of Tim Gillies Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim Gillies.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tim. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In 2016, I quit my career in corporate finance to work on an app I was developing for the rock climbing industry. I wasn’t happy in finance and I wanted to be a coder. I wanted to build things and be creative. I had dreams of building the next Strava but for rock climbing, and we were getting some attention in the industry. And as everyone knows, social media can play a big part in that. Having been a hobbyist photographer for the past eight years, I started showing up to climbing events in Denver and taking photos for our social media. I showed up to the USA Climbing National Championships in Denver with my camera and it turns out, USA Climbing needed a photographer that day. That landed me a job photographing the Climbing Wall Association Expo and then shooting commercially for my own gym, Movement Climbing and Fitness.

A year after I had quit my job, I went to Thailand as a last hurrah. The app wasn’t making any significant money and we needed funding in order to get to the next level. My business partner had turned on me and I knew I had to figure out my own personal finances soon or I’d be going back to Corporate America. In Thailand, new friends I met would introduce me as a “famous photographer” because I had a big lens. And although I would get embarrassed, I liked being called a “photographer”. I would walk around the streets of Chiang Mai with my camera and people would just pose for me. I felt like I was on assignment for National Geographic. Other travelers would tell me I should be making money with this. It should be my job.

So when I got back to Denver, I had a series of paid commercial shoots for Movement and the following weekend I had a media pass in Vail at the GoPro games. I was in the media pit with other photographers and I was starting to feel a little more like one of them. Back in Denver, people liked my work and were responding to my story about leaving Corporate America. I was getting hired. I was loving it and I was doing it on my own terms and in my own way. I was being creative and building a name for myself. My business partner abandoned the app and I decided I was going to focus my efforts on photography full time. So here I am today, two years later. Shooting NBA players, fitness instructors, Samsung products, Tinder headshots, pregnant women, weddings, and everything in between. And I’m having a blast. Learning, growing, and somehow making it work. A nice little lesson about showing up, going with the flow, and trusting that somehow, you’ll end up exactly where you’re supposed to be.

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?
Anything worth doing is not going to be easy. It is a daily struggle. The competition in photography is fierce. There are so many photographers in Denver (and anywhere) and it is hard to stand out. I have a strong portfolio but being found is a constant effort.

Seasonality has also been tough. Going from a constant, consistent paycheck from Corporate America to something that is up and down can be tough on your psyche. During the slower months of winter, I am constantly asking myself if this is sustainable and if I am doing the right thing. But then I go to a corporate office building for executive headshots and see all the workers in the cubes and am instantly reminded that I am 100% doing the right thing.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Tim Gillies Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I bring a distinct style and candidness to my work in photography. My clients tell me I bring a sense of ease and enjoyment to our photoshoots that not only shows in my subjects but defines my body of work. I love capturing people’s energy and their vibe and balancing that with also making them look good. People sometimes hate the way they laugh. But laughing is one of the most beautiful things we do as humans and I am constantly trying to find that balance of happy and ridiculously good looking.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t rely on luck. I rely on hard work and good work and trust that it will pay off. I’ve spent a long time learning my craft and getting better and there is a lot of work still to be done. I believe that things always happen for a reason. When my business partner turned on me, it initially seemed very negative for me. But if that hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

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