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Meet Gillian Oler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gillian Oler.

Gillian, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Honestly, I picked up photography on a whim, as I do most things in my life. I am a dreamer, ambitious, and often times jump without thinking. I like it that way though, it keeps life interesting. I was admiring another photographer’s work one day and thought, I could do that, but more, I WANT to do that. I asked for a camera for Christmas in 2016 and the rest is really history. I completely fell in love with the process, with the intention of capturing real people and real moments. I love the creative freedom I feel when I coordinate and shoot a session and then get to go home and edit, it’s a rush for me. Meeting people and their families and getting to know them lights my soul on fire. I am a talker by nature–stand next to me for 5 minutes, and we are no longer strangers, I will break the silence!

In some ways, it feels like a long journey to get where I am today, but in other ways it hasn’t really been that long, only a few years really. We all have the ugly beginnings of things, starting out I made a lot of mistakes, took some really, really bad photos, but I feel like you have to go all in and be willing to fall on your face and suck in order to keep going. This is such a competitive, saturated market, anyone will tell you that, but I believe there is room for everyone at the table, but you have to set yourself apart and you have to put in the work. That is what I think pushed me to this point. I have a great client base, and I am continually educating myself and trying to take a better picture with every click.

Has it been a smooth road?
Anytime you are pursuing something you care deeply about, it’s not going to be easy. One of the biggest challenges has been balance. Not only am I a photographer, but I also work at a full-time office job five days a week. But wait there is more! (lol) I am also a mom and a wife, and at this point you should also know I moonlight as Wonder Woman. I wear all the hats and juggle all the plates. It’s not perfect, but it’s life, and I credit so much of that to my husband, who supports me and let’s me chase my dreams, but also grounds me and reminds me what matters most.

Another big challenge is overcoming comparison. With so many talented and freaking amazing photographers in the area, it’s so hard to not look over and think, “they are so much better, I will never get there.” With the onslaught of social media, it’s constantly in your face, and can be really discouraging if you let that seep into your soul and mind. This has probably been one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. At the end of the day I have to remember to keep my head in my work, stay in my lane, and be focused on the art I am creating.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My photography business is personal. I form relationships with my clients, I get to know their family, I care deeply about everyone that gives me the honor and privilege to photograph them because I know they could have picked anyone, but they chose me. This is not something I take lightly.

My sessions are personal too, that is why I don’t do super-posed, cheesy photos. Every session, I pursue authenticity. I want to freeze the in-between moments, the feeling of your partner kissing you on the forehead, the way your daughter laughs when you tickle her, the way you look at your children when they are actually hugging each other and getting along.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
This area is full of hidden gems and unique places, you’ll just have to find them on your own! So many in our industry keep their shooting locations discreet, understandably so. Like I said before, in a highly-saturated market, you have to fight for space and fight to stand out. If I could give anyone starting out in photography here advice it would be that first off, customer service is EVERYTHING. How you treat people goes so much further than just taking a good photo. With a good camera, and some basic editing skills, anyone can do that, but the way you treat people and the experience you give them will set you apart. I would also recommend doing your homework and educating yourself. It is going to be an investment, but you have to continually improve your craft, this is the only way you are ever going to grow. The photography business is constantly changing, find YOUR style and YOUR voice and do your absolute best to drown out the noise of social media.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gillian Oler Photography; My “Personal Photo”- Carla + Tim Photography

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