We had the good fortune of connecting with Gena G Silva and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gena G, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
As a portrait photographer, the most important factor in my business is to make a genuine connection with all my clients so I can capture their inner light beautifully on camera. Honestly, I think, success is doing something meaningful everyday, And everyday I do my best to do just that, As silly as it may sound, I’m moved by every portrait I take and every person I’m so fortunate to photograph. Everyday I strive to continue to learn & grow to be a better me. Success to me isn’t based on “likes” & “followers” on social media, it’s more about the interactions I have with the people in my community and my clients valuing what we created together.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My photography journey began when I was 8 years old. My mom gifted me a Polaroid Camera for my birthday and I was hooked right from the start. During my teens, my aunt photographed weddings and signed me up as her assistant with such events. It was during those events, that I learned to use my first “real” film camera. I can’t thank those wonderful ladies enough for stoking my interest in photography. After high school, I moved to Los Angeles with only $600 to my name..it was in the big city my love for street photography began, photographing a million passersbys in a million corners of this city, suddenly something clicked — portraiture. That’s what I wanted to explore next. I began researching the art of portrait photography vigorously, but it wasn’t until I discovered Sue Bryce (and all her amazing work) that I honed in on my path. I spent every single day for an entire year studying Sue’s work, learning about the business, equipment, proper posing, and lighting. It was an amazing journey that all came together one day when I coincidentally ran into her in a mall. She was so gracious and lovely and this life changing moment provided me with the confidence to continue moving in the right direction. Since then, she’s been so wonderful to include me in her workshops, photography classes, and has even taken my portraits. She’s an angel and a real guiding force in my life. I can’t thank her enough. Though you never stop learning about your craft, I finally felt it was time to put my knowledge to the test. I began photographing everyone in my life that would allow it. Friends. Family. Friends of friends. Co-workers. My cat. You name it. I didn’t have a studio at the time, so I would scout out interesting walls across the city for a unique backdrop. Having no other choice than to shoot outside, I learned to love the use of natural light and till this day, all of my portraits are lit with our sun. I shot this way for about two years. Although I still love shooting outside, I started to dream of creating a studio experience for what little clients I had at that time. My fiance, John, came up with the brilliant idea to convert our bedroom into a portrait studio and to sleep in our walk in closet. I know… it sounds crazy and it was — just crazy enough to work! That’s exactly what we did. The bedroom had the best light in the house and the idea was too good and weird enough to pass up! I ran my business this way for 4 years. After I spent the last 10 years in LA building my business from the ground up, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, my fiance & I made the decision to move back to Texas and continue on serving our clients in our small community. And we did just that. I now have a portrait studio based in Hondo, TX where we create a glamorous photoshoot experience for everyday women. I believe that everyone deserves to have photographs of themselves that they love. Though, I understand that it sometimes can be a struggle to see your own beauty. In all it’s forms. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help people exist in photographs they love; to capture the best portraits they’ve ever seen of themselves and to create heirlooms that will be cherished for years to come. A majority of my clients have never had their portrait taken and in-fact, “hide from the camera.” It’s my mission to change that perception of themselves — allow them to see, what I see every day, that beautiful inner light that too many have forgotten about! I know what beautiful looks like and I can see it in everyone– and I know how to capture it with my camera! I photograph everyone– men, women, children, families, couples– But I specialize in photographing women of all ages, shapes, and size. There’s no cookie cutter way in creating the life you want — and if there was, I wouldn’t trust it! I didn’t go to college, but I educated myself by doing something I love every day; studying photography, doing my own research and putting what I’ve learned into motion! Everybody’s road has some bumps along the way…I’ve just learned to appreciate them all. We learn most from those moments. The hard ones. That’s just the truth of it. You’ve got to accept that. I am very lucky, however, that I always had the love and encouragement of my friends and family. My main struggle came in the form of self-doubt…I used to lie awake and wonder if I was wasting my time, if I was just throwing money away on something that would ultimately turn into a hobby…would anyone even like my work? These self sabotaging thoughts can be crippling, but it’s important to know that overcoming the fear of failure is a choice that you make every single day. Giving up is the easy route…it’s actually showing up and putting your all into something that you have no idea what the outcome will be, despite your fears — that’s where the real growth comes in. The biggest lesson I learned was that it’s okay to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something courageous. The message/takeaway I’d like to share about my story is — keep moving forward — each step is one closer to that dream. Whatever it may be. Most importantly, be honest with yourself — stay true to who you are as an individual and remember that if you can’t beat fear…do it scared! Fear has taken me such a long way & taught me so much about myself, I encourage everyone to explore that within themselves, you never know where it will take you. “She was powerful, not because she wasn’t scared, but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear.” – Atticus
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?
My favorite spot to take friends & family to is the Santa Monica Peer, it has such a charm to it and holds many memories for me. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Firstly, I would not be where I am today without the love & support from my friends & family. In the times that I felt like giving up and overwhelmed with insecurities, they were always there and never doubted my ability to make my dream become a reality. So for that, I am forever grateful to have such a strong support system lifting me up. Secondly, I have to give a major shoutout to my mentor Sue Bryce & her group “Sue Bryce Education” for the unlimited amount of inspiration, encouragement & guidance. It was through many many hours of soaking up all she had to share…I found the strength within myself to start my own photography business from the ground up. Thank you Sue! Lastly, I want to give a special thanks to every person I was blessed to photograph throughout my career thus far. With every click of my camera, I was able to get closer & closer to where I am today. Here’s to the next 100,000 clicks!
Image Credits: – Gena G Silva – Sue Bryce – Armine Galystyan – Ashley Negado – Chelsea Vanatta – Jasmine Burks – Karlie Aguilar – Lili Fox-Lim – Miranda Contreras – Natalie Rothe – Sarah Zinsmeyer – Shanice Truss – Sylvia Lutz – Annie Quinn – Candice Organ – Caitlin Curl