We had the good fortune of connecting with Connor Clayton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Connor, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wanted to make a career out of something I truly love doing. I figure if I could do that, then I would never have to “work” again.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m most proud of some of my magazine features! It is so rewarding to see my work printed on the cover of a fashion magazine. To think that I am the person behind a fashion editorial story is just surreal to kid in me that would flip through fashion magazines in awe. I’m excited about all the growth I have ahead of me though! I know there is so much more I could learn and so many more things that I can do creatively and knowing that makes me look forward to my future. It won’t be an easy ride, just like it wasn’t an easy ride to this point, but that’s how growth happens. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Then the more and more you do it, the easier it gets. I guess that’s how I always try and overcome my obstacles – remembering the other times that something has seemed impossible until it’s not and I look back and go “Oh I did that!” I’m always trying to keep a healthy perspective of where I have been and where I am going. Did I answer all the questions? There were a lot of layers to this one! If there is one thing I want people to know about me and my business it’s that I love what I do and I have a lot of fun doing what I do! I always let my passion guide my inspiration and creativity.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think to truly appreciate this city you have you really see all of the different corners of it! I would insist on a rooftop bar in downtown to get the city experience, a hike up the Santa Monica Mountains to get a view of the ocean, city, and valley, and a beach day in Malibu. I also make sure to introduce people to some of my favorite spots for dinner like the Little Izakaya in Sherman Oaks, The Bellwether, Terra at Eataly, & this little authentic Italian jazz club in Eagle Rock that I will keep secret for myself 🙂 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 mean, really, every single person that has entrusted me with the job of being their photographer deserves some sort of credit! Without opportunity, I wouldn’t be where I am today. But I would like to specifically shoutout three people: My husband, my mom, & Dolly Parton. I was in a dark place in my life experiencing a lack of purpose and life path. I didn’t have a career and didn’t exactly know what I wanted out of life. My husband, John, knew how much I enjoyed photography and had encouraged me to start my own photography business. The idea sounded nice but it was a huge risk and I didn’t know if I really had what it takes. Also, I sort of had this idea in my head that everyone with an instagram thinks they’re a photographer and I didn’t want to just be another one of those people. I was driving home from my restaurant job one night, thinking about the possibility of starting my own photography business and weighting the pros and cons, when a Dolly Parton song came on my radio that felt like she was speaking directly to me. It was the song “Try” and I know this whole bit is so cheesy but I swear it was the moment that I went “She’s right, I have to TRY! Otherwise I’ll never know”. That moment is so vivid in my head.
That week I enrolled myself in photography classes, bought my first DSLR camera and some other equipment, and converted my garage into a photo studio. In a few months Connor Clayton Photography was up and running!
Now, my mom gets credit because she too has started her own business and she works so hard every single day! She is the most optimistic, kind, and genuine person I’ve ever known and it has been a big part of her success. Everyone I meet that knows my mom always says “You’re Katrina’s son?! I LOVE her! She is the sweetest!”
When I was thinking about what I wanted my business brand to be, I knew I wanted people to think the same way of me and my company. On top of that, my mom is so supportive of me, always telling me how proud she is and always cheering me on – I know not everyone has that in their life and I definitely don’t take it for granted. When things are tough or I”m feeling down on myself I can always count on my mom, my husband, and Dolly to have the right words to pick me up and keep me going.