We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexandria Green and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexandria, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I believe starting your own business is a great opportunity. On the outside it often can seem very glamorous, but the actual process of owning, building and sustaining something can be tough and comes with a lot of learning and unlearning.
Their are pros and cons to the decision to pursuing entrepreneurship but having a plan and executing it, being willing to do the most humbling things to keep everything afloat, and learning how to pivot well and often will help take you the distance.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Before I transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship as a photographer I worked in secondary and higher education settings for 13 years. After graduate school I worked at a couple institutions for 3 years as a Community Director. During my 1st year post grad I worked at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to that job I had a desire to buy my first DSLR camera and finally had the money to do it. One of the Resident Assistants majoring in Photography (the amazingly talent Justin Chan!) helped me pick my first camera.
From there it was just a hobby to relieve stress. I would walk around Downtown Savannah with my headphones on and take photos. Mostly of things, and never people, because I was far too shy at the time to do that.
Fast forward a couple of years and a college friend asks me to take photos of her wedding. After trying to convince her that was not the best move she hired me for $300. By this time I was still working full-time at a university in Detroit but I got more opportunities to do photo work outside of work and an opportunity to do some work for the department.
I left my work as a Community Director pretty exhausted and moved back home to Flint, MI taking 6 months off to figure out what I wanted to do. I picked up an in-between job as a career coach for a year and was laid off. But things really changed for me about 4 months before I was laid off when I attended a free photography conference in Detroit called Xposure. It opened up my eyes to the fact that people run sustainable businesses in photography. For the first time, I saw myself doing photography full time. This was a big deal because I am the daughter of entrepreneurs and my brother was one, but it just never was a desire of mine. Once I was laid-off I knew I was tired of working for people and jumped in the deep end owning a business.
Over the years, I tried a little of everything: weddings, kids, events, and more. My focus now is portrait work for high school seniors and Business portraits such as headshots and branding. Working with High School seniors keeps me close to my roots in education and youth work. High Schoolers, young people in general, have it tough. Being able to highlight their interests and personality is my focus when it comes to senior portrait work. My work with business and entrepreneurship is equally focused on helping individuals and entities show up as themselves.
I think that genuine interest in people and the experience I provide to my clients sets me apart. I get to pull from all of my life/work experience and be a guide, an educator, and an artist. An educator because I take the time to present in detail what services and experience include, a guide because I am walking them through the process and making sure they have everything they need and are prepared, and an artist because I get to collaborate with my clients to create the images they desire together. Clients don’t just show up, pay me and get whatever I provide. We collaborate to get to their end goal.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way, most of them being in the last 5 years of being full-time for myself. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Being responsible for your income can be a different kind of stress as you learn the ebb and flow of business. Considering I did several difficult business and personal things, and in a pandemic, I’m grateful just to still be here in business. I’m grateful that the Lord has sustained me because my account had hit $0 a couple times in this journey but His sufficient grace and my support system have helped me keep moving forward to build something I believe is and will continue to be successful.
With that, if there was one thing I would want people to know about me, my work, my business…
It’s that I genuinely care and I want to create images that people love. The best compliments I receive are always the ones where people look at images and really see themselves differently – more clearly.
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 have never been to LA — it’s time that happens. I can tell you this, whenever I travel or someone comes to visit me somewhere we will eat out way through the city every-time.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wholeheartedly believe that we should be stepping stones for each other. Everything I have been able to do and explore in life, has been in part because of the sacrifice, help and encouragement of others. There are so many people who deserve a shoutout in my journey. Since I have transitioned out of a career in Education and Administration and into photography, I have had the love and support of my family, and many friends and mentors.
To my parents who have supported me in a million ways as I journeyed into being a photographer full-time. From moving back home, to moving out, to helping me build out my studio to doing all the painting, and sliding me some extra funds when I needed it. For their examples as entrepreneurs. To my brother, Jamiersen, for his encouragement and support. Shout out Tina who prayed that I would be able to use my artistic abilities more when she saw that desire in me in college, as I pursued a different career.
To my bestie, Chante’, who literally gave me a key to her apartment so I could work between Flint and Detroit and has always encouraged and held me up.
To Shawn Lee who was a great mentor as I got started and has given me dope opportunities and Jenn Lewis who showed me how to run a photo business. To the Tomaiya & her team from the Momentum Mastermind for helping take it up a notch.
To my photographer sisteren, who have each helped me in so many ways: Leni, Tremaine, Jessica, Mia, Bria, Katrina.
To my daughter who developed a desire for entrepreneurship watching me, my family and friends, and is now building her own business.
It’s been a whirlwind, I appreciate you all.
All image Credits: Alexandria C. Green, Alexandria Chrisele Photography