We had the good fortune of connecting with Tammie Valer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tammie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Without even knowing it, I’ve been taking risks since the day I decided to work in a creative field. I was told at a very young age that music and art are not sustainable careers and was discouraged to pursue them. I have acquired many skills because, for many years, I was always undecided on what path to follow. I dabbled in web design, graphic design, and art curation while doing photography.
I finally admitted to myself that my passion lay with photography. It wasn’t until I lost my full-time graphic design job that I took the leap to pursue my photography career full time. I traded stability for uncertainty.
Taking that risk has changed my life completely. I was never meant to work in an office, furthering other people’s businesses. I needed to further my own career. All the decisions I made involved certain risks along the way. I was encouraged to pursue wedding, fashion, or high-end e-commerce photography. I tried nearly all avenues.
My path eventually led me to work with musicians. Music has always played a huge role in my life although I can not write or play music to save my life! It was my form of therapy for a long time, I am as passionate about it as I am about photography. It only made sense to combine my passions into music photography.
I think if you are truly passionate about something, it’s worth taking a risk. At the end of the day, it’s your life. I am a firm believer in following your heart. I believe in doing the things that feed your soul positively. I’ve taken many risks in my own personal life and in my career and I don’t regret making any of those decisions, because they all led me to where I am now, and I couldn’t be happier.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
All I need anyone to know about me is that I put my heart and soul into every photograph I take. This isn’t just a career for me. It’s my passion.
All my photographs have to tell a story which is why I work well with musicians. They tell stories through their music. I listen to their stories and we combine both our visions to create the photograph. I get the most excited when my client has a vision and I’m able to bring more to the table. I believe that’s how creativity blooms.
I spent a few years attending shows almost every night and networking with artists in the industry. It definitely wasn’t an easy road. I overcame the challenges by just moving forward. If something didn’t pan out, I let it go. I knew I had to keep trying.
Music and photography are my passions. I can’t give that up. I think the biggest lesson I learned in this career is that you have to be willing to take risks. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. I am still working on mastering that today!
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.
We’d start the morning with some coffee or tea from my favorite coffee shop, Kafn Coffee in Glendale. I would take them to one of my favorite art galleries, Art Share LA. Maybe stop by The Last Bookstore to browse around for books, records, and their small shops. We’d grab lunch or dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Ebisu, in Little Tokyo. Walk around the shops in Little Tokyo. Maybe grab a drink at Wolf & Crane Bar in the evening. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I was able to start my photography career with the investment my mother made towards my first camera and lenses. She also helped me make space in our garage to set up my photo studio so that I can start working with real clients. I owe so much of my progress to her. I am grateful for her love and the skills she taught me so that I will never be without work. I am also grateful for my grandmother’s love and support.
My best friend, the amazingly talented musician, Alicia Blue, opened many doors for me in the music world and in doing so helped me discover music photography was the right path for me.
Rachel Oto, another incredible musician, and friend has also supported and encouraged me tremendously throughout the years. Rachel gave me my first music tour opportunity. That experience was eye-opening and fed my interest in tour photography.
My multi-talented friend, Veronica An, has been my partner in many photo and other creative projects. Her encouragement and opinions have been essential to my growth and I am forever grateful for that.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without all their love and continuous support.
Alicia Blue, Lauren Ruth Ward, Nicole Kiki Jaffe, Rachel Oto, Racquel Jones, Ben Greenberg, Kamilla Ponce, & Tim Easton. Photographed by me.