We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Doty and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jill, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Most entrepreneurs don’t make it past the 3-5 year mark. As a business owner for nearly 7 years, I guess I must have done something right? If I think back to where I started vs. where I am now, my reason and driving force for my success has shifted completely. As a young twenty-something with a background in psychology working in higher education, I found my lifelong interest in photography sparked once again after shadowing my wedding photographer (Lacey Gabrielle Photography) for the sole purpose of wanting to learn how to use my new camera I intended to take on my travels. Suddenly, telling people what to do and capturing that moment and seeing what worked and what didn’t for couples was a rush I had to have again and again. However, anyone that knows me probably isn’t shocked that I enjoyed telling people what to do. I made the decision to pursue photography as a business somewhat blindly. I did it in the reverse order of most folks. I didn’t do my homework and spend hours researching photography principles, business practices, marketing strategies or trends in website design. My strategy was to (like Nike) JUST DO IT. I created a website, social media pages and emailed friends that were getting engaged, getting a puppy or just were willing to be my guinea pigs. As my portfolio and little black book of clients grew, the massive weight of driving my own success lightened as this amazing community of cheerleaders spread the word. Suddenly I had a free marketing team of happy clients that valued me and my work enough to want to see it (and me) succeed. I have always said that my favorite part of my job isn’t the photography, it’s the people I work with. These relationships are truly my “why” and it’s also why I think I have been successful in a super saturated industry. I have gained some of my closest friends that started as strangers who trusted me with one of the most important days of their lives. I am humbled every time a client books me for any shoot because they not only appreciate my work but they trust me to treat this special moment like it was my own. When you put people and their experience first, the success follows.
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.
As my life has changed and my family has grown, the scope of my work has grown. Originally I focused mostly on weddings. As a newlywed, this was fresh on my mind and where I felt most at home. Actually at my very first newborn session, the baby was in his birthday suit and things got messy quick. The new mom looked at me and said, “oh my God. What do I do?” I laughed and said, “I have no idea… let’s get you a new shirt.” Now as a mom I know what these parents are hoping to get from their time in front of the camera. Letting my own experiences and people skills drive my work instead of trying to fit square pegs in round holes each time I get behind the camera is what makes my work stand out. You won’t see a whitewashed version of yourself in my images. Scrolling through my social media pages doesn’t have the same uniform color scheme you often see, but what you will see is consistently and genuinely happy people whether they’ve just gotten married, welcomed a new baby or refreshing the picture frames around their home. Your time together snuggled close should be fun no matter what chaos led up to those moments and I think getting to know your clients personally helps create those genuine and joyful memories to capture.
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?
Atlanta is this incredible place full of life, new experiences and endless options for food. One of my favorite places in the city combines all of those things – Ponce City Market. You can stroll along the Beltline for a breath of fresh air in the sun and pop into PCM for food and drinks (Minero burritos and margaritas are a must) or go up to their roof top to play carnival games and take in an amazing view of the skyline. If you are opting for a family weekend, the Aquarium and Zoo are favorites for our toddler! Most of these experiences keep you in the downtown area of Atlanta but this city is sprawling and there are “neighborhoods” (really they could be their own little cities) that each have their own identities and hot-spots.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I literally would not have even considered starting a business without the push from my wedding photographer, Lacey DellaPace, that not only let me shadow her and second shoot with her but has served as a constant encourager to this day. I often think about how different my life would be if we had hired anyone else to photograph our wedding. It’s amazing how one choice can have a domino effect on your whole career. Lacey also introduced me to a local photography group called Trigger Happy. Each month they would host different speakers that would open my eyes to different aspects of the photography world. Community is something that is so important and I was so grateful to have this group and other local groups when I first started.
Jill Doty Photography