We had the good fortune of connecting with Toni Carey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Toni, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I am a strong believer in “doing what you love”. Our careers & work life take up far too much of our time for them not to be purposeful & worthwhile. For me, running a full-time photography business has always been the dream, but it never really felt realistic. I’ve loved learning about this art since I was in middle school. The more I learned & experienced it throughout my life, the more I felt pulled towards it.
I went to college and pursued a minor in art and a major in psychology. As I grew in my artistic abilities, I began seeing more and more opportunities for work- engagements, senior portraits, family portraits, and even a wedding photography internship. Even with all of this photo experience, I managed to convince myself that I would pursue the more “steady” and less “risky” option: counseling. Besides, I’d be wasting my degree if I didn’t, right? The real truth though, was that counseling felt less scary to me, more realistic, & far less vulnerable. Once I graduated college in 2018, I realized I didn’t have the passion to continue school and achieve my masters in psychology. My heart just kept coming back to photography. It took much support, affirmation, and several nudges from the Lord to finally decide to pursue this career path. And wow, it has been so freeing to use the gifts and talents I’ve been given in order to bless others.
The reality is, we are all designed uniquely and intentionally with different passions and abilities. When we choose a path that isn’t enabling us to use these traits, I feel we are missing out…big time. We are missing out on the potential we are meant to fulfill.
I think many of us choose not to do what we dream of doing because we struggle with the voice in the back of our heads telling us we “can’t”. Like I said earlier, this was me for a long time too. But at some point, we have to choose to trust that our gifts were given to us for a reason and were never meant to be kept to ourselves. We all have a purpose and a role to play, and that’s a really beautiful thing.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
One of the biggest obstacles that can come with starting your own business is the same obstacle many of us face in life, relationships, and our careers. It’s all about the mindset you choose to take on. As soon as I begin making my business about myself, I notice my motivation dwindling and burnout approaching. When I choose to make my business about others & the purpose God has for it, I instantly begin to find motivation, joy, and fulfillment.
It’s so easy to forget that my gifts are not for me and not about me, God always intended for my gifts to be for Him and for others. I’ve found that when we fuse our passions with our work, that’s when the inevitable temptation of doing it for our own gain and glory can begin to surface. Although this is a resurfacing obstacle I may have to face as a business owner, I am thankful to pursue a career path that consistently challenges & reminds me to turn back to my “why”.
At the end of the day, my photography is not about me or building my portfolio. My photography is about blessing and serving others. Life, work, relationships…are all so much easier when we don’t make them about ourselves. It gives us the freedom to focus our attention on the greater mission, a purpose much greater than ourselves.
The greater mission of my business is to serve, encourage, and celebrate others. I feel so lucky to have the privilege to learn new love stories, celebrate the joys of others, and to be trusted to document the love between two people wildly in love. I always strive to provide a meaningful experience and product that clients will forever cherish.
The 6 Core Values of my Business: TO SERVE, TO LOVE, TO CELEBRATE, TO ENCOURAGE, TO HAVE PURPOSE, & TO BE BUILT ON TRUTH.
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?
One of the coolest things about Georgia is that it kinda has it all. It has the beautiful North Georgia mountains, East coast beaches, plenty of man made lakes, and some pretty iconic cities. I am located in Metro Atlanta, which is amazing to be central to all the cool spots. First, we would definitely take a drive up to Brasstown bald (the tallest peak in Georgia) to experience a breathtaking mountain sunrise. We could stop at a winery on the way back, Crane Creek vineyards is one of my favorites. I am a raving fan of their Apfelwein white wine. Once back, we could take a few days to explore Atlanta alone. Some of my favorite spots to hangout at are the Belt line, Ponce City Market, Ormsby’s, Jeni’s ice cream, and the Painted Duck. Lastly, to end the trip strong, I’d take us to Savannah for a few days to experience River Street and Tybee Island. I love the antique shops & treats you can find along River street. Tybee Island is only a 30-40 minute drive from the city and always a beautiful drive through the marsh land. Now that would be an epic week.
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?
I am very blessed to say there are many people to thank for where I am today.
Most deserving shoutouts go to:
1) The giver of gifts and the One that gives me purpose: Jesus.
2) My family: Lilliana, Mario, Jeanie & Adriana (AKA my hype team since day one).
3) My husband: Ryan Carey, he sees the sweat and tears that go into this business and is 100% my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you.
4) Andy Brophy: The first pro to ever take me under their wing. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and for caring for me not just as a photographer, but as a friend. I will never be able to thank you enough for the kindness you’ve shown me.
5) And lastly, my high school photography teacher: Mr. Pezoldt, thank you for always believing in me. When I think back to my initial days of learning this art, you saw something in me that I didn’t see yet. Thank you for challenging me & teaching me to be a better artist.
Toni Angelina Photography