We had the good fortune of connecting with Halie Johnson Stanley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Halie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking a risk was step one when starting my photography business. I grew up in Perry, Georgia and naturally built up a clientele there when I was a teenager. When I was 20, with only $100 in my bank account, I packed up and moved to Athens. Taking this risk was such an important part of my business because it let my business (and myself most importantly) grow. Moving away and surrounding myself with new people encouraged me to expand in so many ways. It’s not like I picked up and moved across the country or anything, but I feel as if even moving several hours away planted the seed for me to eventually travel all over the country sharing my work through Love Stories Collective. Next comes the most important risk of all: quitting my service industry job. I knew that quitting my job would motivate me…and scare me a lil to be honest. I needed that slight fear of not being able to pay my bills to encourage me to hustle. And that it did. I increased my photography income by about 900% within that year. I don’t really consider myself to be risky and I strive to take more risks. For example, gambling creates anxiety for me; investing in stocks doesn’t excite me; I tend to go with the safest option in general a lot of times. However, I do consider myself to be adventurous and admire myself for how often I follow my heart — no matter how many pros and cons lists or logistics my brain throws at me. Sometimes you gotta lose some to win some. I am a firm believer that you have to close doors on things that are no longer serving you in order for the universe to reward you with what is really meant for you in the next chapter. This is something I am constantly trying to practice more in my personal life. It’s difficult to take risks — especially when it involves letting go of something you’ve grown to be so comfortable with. Right now my husband and I are loosely tossing around the idea of not renewing our lease and moving into a shortie school bus that we will be converting over the next several months. My brain is already on the path of pros and cons list, but we shall see what my heart ends up saying 🙂
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always had a passion for photography. I used to spend hours looking through boxes of old prints that my mother stored under her bed. No matter how many times I saw the same photos, I never got tired of looking at them. I loved feeling transported back to that moment in time, even with photos that were taken before I was born. That is the feeling I strive to give others. My goal is always to capture a feeling in each photo — not to simply take a pretty picture. I never imagined myself being a wedding photographer, but I just never realized that you can put your own spin on it. I enjoy taking a unique and artistic approach to portraiture and wedding photography. My goal is to be as creative as I can while still keeping my photos timeless. A lesson I am always learning is balance. During my “best year yet” with my business, I found myself feeling depressed and drained. The money was great, but I never saw my loved ones and I didn’t have the energy to have fun. That was a hard lesson to learn, but I am so thankful for it because now I don’t see myself ever losing sight of how important balance is. My mental health is more important than my business; my family is more important than my business; my other dreams are just as important as my business. But with balance — I can have it all! I’m always working to grow in that area, and it is definitely not always linear. Love Stories Collective is not just me anymore and that helps a lot. One of my dear friends Danielle is an incredibly talented and uniquely creative photographer that I am so fortunate to have on my team. Being able to fully trust Danielle to shoot weddings for LSC helps me in so many ways. I no longer feel spread thin and now we can both show up to weddings feeling refreshed instead of burned out, which obviously translates into more impressive art for our clients! I am enjoying finding myself again outside of photography. I think I will always want to be a photographer, but I don’t want to be so wrapped up in that identity. One thing I am currently enjoying is being creative in other ways. I have fallen in love with pottery and it makes me feel like a kid again!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I currently live in Athens, so I am normally the friend being shown around town, but I would love to share some of my favorite places! I honestly just love talking around finding beauty in the mundane. Atlanta is filled art everywhere you look — on the sidewalks, walls, in the architecture, everywhere. I love seeing the murals around Krog Street. I always try to take a stroll through Oakland cemetery when I visit. Everything feels peaceful and quiet there, like you’re not in the city. Stopping by my favorite plants shops is always a priority. I like to go to Garden Hood, Flora Fauna, and The Victorian. Lastly, I always try to end my night treating myself so some great food & drinks! I am always trying to talk my friends into going to Gaja with me. Another favorite is the bean burger at The Earl. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
< Alec Stanley > My husband Alec is such a dreamer and inspires me daily to go after the unimaginable. I’ve watched him achieve so many goals that people thought he never would. I’ve watched him encourage so many others to do the same. I love seeing him convince people around him that they can succeed at something they originally thought was unattainable. There is no limit in Alec’s mind in what can be accomplished. He lives his life around the “if you think it, you can make it a reality” mindset and that is so inspiring to me. Less than a year ago he started a new business called Super Canoe (www.supercanoe.co) with three of his friends and they’re already thriving, often having casual conversations with “big name” people that Alec always told me he’d one day be friends with. It’s so fun to witness him speak his goals and then see them come to life. I feel so grateful that I have that energy in my life — a constant reminder that anything is possible.
Halie of Love Stories Collective