We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Gill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what do you attribute your success to?
My patience for working with children has really sets me apart from the average photographer. I always knew I was a patient person but after meeting hundreds of families over the years, I started to notice how they were aware of this even after only a few minutes of being together and they would comment about it. Having your family photographed is stressful enough, add in some cranky toddlers and it feels like you want to quit the second you get out of the car. I noticed how on edge parents felt as soon as they arrived, and I really wanted to be able to defuse that as quickly as possible. I found letting parents know right away its ok, and I mean that, its ok. We have to go with the flow and let me work my magic with the little ones. A few years ago I added in more cues and games for families to do during their sessions so that kids found it fun and it wasn’t a chore to stand there and smile. If a toddler is upset the session is at a standstill, so if I have to just sit next to them for a minute I will happily do that. Once they have had a moment I’ll throw out an idea to distract them, usually something like wanna race me? Then off we go, I’ve been able to engage them, they are distracted and I will get the family into place for some photos. This year has been especially hard for little kids across the board, and I have been grateful for the wonderful feedback and praise I have gotten from parents after a session for being able to handle it and not be phased by a crying child.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a family photographer who specializing in working with young families. I began photographing families because I have always worked with children and it is what came more naturally to me. I like the challenge of working with kids, they are unpredictable. I think my knowledge of how to engage toddlers sets me apart from the average person with a camera. Working with families is not easy, I have learned the hard way to set boundaries with clients. I am still learning to hone in on what I am best at and not just take all sorts of photography jobs, saying no is probably the hardest part for me. Its hard to let go of something that I would like to get better at, when I know I really should be putting my energy towards what I already known and grow more that direction. I want clients to know how much time and effort I put into their sessions even when they aren’t there with me, I want them to know I really do care about them having images that will passed down through their families. I want to be known as classic and not trendy.
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.
My favorite thing about LA is all the people watching you can do. I am much more of an observer and get a lot of entertainment out of driving around and just watching local people. If someone is to come from out of town, people watching is a must. I would love to rent a beach house in Malibu where you would get a lesson in finding beach glass from me and photographing the sunset. For me, I think the most interesting thing about LA is how its perceived in Hollywood, people who aren’t from here have a very different view, I love to get a glimpse at all the touristy spots and see what it is really like.
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 make many daily phone calls to a fellow photographer friend of mine…But the thing is after 5+ years of daily conversations we haven’t actually met in person! I “met” Lacey Reimann of Lacey Reimann Photography in online photography workshop group years ago. Photographers would post asking for help with anything business related and we struck up a friendship. Its nice being able to meet new families but I really only spend a short amount of time with them, the rest of the time I am alone at a computer editing. It is so nice to have someone who fully understands all the happy and frustrating parts of this business and who I can chat with while I edit. I have said numerous times, I would not have lasted this long without the help of my work buddy! She lives in Indiana and after making through the madness of 2020 I think we owe it to ourselves to finally meet up soon!
Kimberly Shapiro (photo of myself photographing baby) Stephanie Gill (everything else)