Interview with Haley Gilreath
Wow! It is Friday again! Friday’s are my most favorite day of the week…the weekend is here and I get to share amazing interviews with such talented photographers. So grab a coffee, sit back, and let’s meet with Haley Gilreath of HWG Photography!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a full time photographer and I started my business in 2008; over the past 5 years, it has grown into something bigger than I had ever dreamed! I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, and my husband is a firefighter. We have 2 beautiful little girls, Emma (5), and Claire (2) and we live in the gorgeous North Georgia Mountains. The beginning of May 2013, I finally out grew my humble beginnings and hired a Studio Manager. My studio is in our basement; my husband let me take over his ‘man cave’ to rebuild the entire bottom floor so that I am able to accommodate my clients in a very relaxed and unique way!
How did you get started in photography?
My first daughter, Emma, was born 10 weeks premature, and only weighed 2lbs. After an extensive stay in the NICU, we could not get enough of that gorgeous little miracle! I began purchasing boutique-styled hair bows and outfits for her to wear, and of course I would take photos of her wearing each item. I started sending ‘thank you’ photos to the boutiques that I had purchased the items from and to my surprise, most of them came back with offers to trade items for photos. This snowballed into a full time boutique-modeling career by the time Emma was a year old. After that, I began taking on “clients” who wanted to model for various boutiques as well. Once I became confident enough in my abilities, I branched out and fell into my niche: newborns, babies/toddlers, and children. I also started charging for photo sessions and studying the art of running a photography business. From there, HWG Photography has blown up into a photography success story and most days I can’t even believe I am where I am today!
Is this a full time job or a part time gig?
I’m blessed enough to say this is my full time job and I easily help sustain my family doing what I love!
What three words describe your style?
Bold, unique, & innovative.
Do you always know when you get the perfect shot? Any surprises during the editing process?
I can always tell when I’ve gotten that one perfect shot the moment I snap it, but there are still always surprised during editing…those tend to be the client-favorites!
What are you inspired by?
Outdoor locations and lighting. I can look at an area, and see how the lighting will look in camera, how the bokeh will be nice & blurred behind a subject, what wardrobe would be best for the surrounding colors…I usually start with a location and plan a shoot around that. For example, I had a family of 3 who wanted outdoor photos; very fun and bright. I told them that I had the perfect spot for them because I had seen it while driving to another session the week prior and sure enough, the lush green colors, the lighting, the way we could utilize our surroundings, made it the perfect spot for this family; they even purchased every image in their gallery because they couldn’t choose between them!
Are you self taught? Learn somewhere else?
I am self taught, but I sign up for as many workshops as I can. I have a handful of ‘pro’ photographers whom I admire, so when they offer a learning opportunity, I jump on it!
Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?
I was shooting a maternity session with a young, gorgeous couple. I was walking backwards & looking at them through my viewfinder trying to find that perfect ‘framed’ pose when I tripped over a log laying on the ground behind me…it was a cartoon moment because my feet literally went over my head as I tumbled backwards. The worst part was that my clients were trying so hard not to laugh at me because they didn’t want to hurt my feelings! After I explained how naturally clumsy I am, (& how this happens more often than not), they enjoyed a nice laugh at my expense. They even brought me a roll of gauze as a gag-gift when they picked up their prints! lol
Do you have any rituals that are a part of your editing process?
I sift through my RAW images in Adobe ACR and try to narrow down to 40-50 of the best ones. After that, I begin my usual post-processing in Photoshop starting with cosmetic fixes and ending with some of my favorite action combinations.
Do you have a glass addiction? What is your favorite lens?
I don’t really have a glass “addiction”, but I do have a favorite lens. For studio portraits, it’s by far my nifty-fifty; for location portraits, it’s my Nikkor 70-300 zoom lens.
What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?
First off, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t seeing instant results. If you posted an image to Facebook, but you haven’t received a booking or even a like on it yet, don’t give up. Owning a full-time photography business is a long process; you will not see instant results with every marketing tactic you try, and you will not receive instant bookings with every special you advertise. Study the business side of photography just as much as you study the photography side…without a strong business sense, your photography will never be anything more than a hobby. I was stuck in this ‘rut’ for 3 years until I finally started learning all I could about running a business…we are business men & women & we need to know how the field works!
Also, I know this is said a lot, but no matter what you do, don’t compare yourself with your competition! They are living their own dream, with their own uniqueness and you will always have something that they don’t & that’s YOU. There’s something about you that makes you different from everyone else; find what that is & run with it!
Where can we find you?
Thank you so much Haley! Wonderful!