5 Questions with Mary Gardella of 'Elle Photography

5 Questions with Mary Gardella of 'Elle Photography

Mary Gardella is May's Photography Sponsor and will be capturing Startup Soirée on Thursday, May 28th.

1. How did you get your start in photography?

It actually found me in college.  I took a photography class on a whim, the next thing I know I was Photo Editor of The Towerlight, Towson University’s paper.  What I was drawn to was the camera’s ability to help me tell stories of real life, real people, real events - to the get to the soul of community.  I knew then that photojournalism would be the first path I took with my camera.

I found myself in freelance & staff positions on daily newspapers all over the country. Like any path, there are twists and turns.  I found myself in 2004 taking a path towards entrepreneurship. And in 2005 I opened a photography studio, becoming co-creator/co-owner of the very successful Love Life Images, Inc. We used the heart & soul of photojournalism to tell wedding & family life stories.

It was an amazing experience to learn how to grow a business, be a boss, have employees, and work with a partner. It was my baby for 7 years.  I became a Solo-preneur recently with new a vision & most importantly, a new purpose - empowering women through portraiture.  This is something very close to my heart where the stars aligned at the right time and place for me and my business.

2. Do you have any advice for photographers who want to start their own business?

I could write a novel on this subject!  The best advice I could give you is to educate yourself on the steps it takes to start a business. Being the creatives we are, we don’t necessarily like to use right side of our brain. :) Surround yourself with people who are knowledgable on each step. Be willing to invest.

The worst mistake I made was to wake up one day and say “hey, I’m going to just start a business!” and then try to open up shop 24 hours later.  I had no business plan and no idea what I was getting myself into. I spent a ton of time back peddling, wasting time, money & energy.  

And don’t try to be an everyman photographer.  Find your niche within the genre, spend time perfecting it and become an expert.  It’s important to note that photography is an over-saturated market, we are competing with cell phones & the instantaneous world of social media. There’s been a huge shift in the market these past couple of years.  When I’ve sensed the shift is when I made changes.  Gotta go with the flow!

3. How would you describe your aesthetic?

My aesthetic has always been, will always be about capturing the beauty of truth - inside & out.

4. What's your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal are cats, in particular my cat I had from college until just a few years ago - Catfish Jones - who lived until he was 22 years old (105 human years).  Why? He was kind, gentle, intuitive, sensible & beautiful from the inside.  

He understood love & commitment. Everyone and anyone who ever came in contact with him - even non cat lovers - was genuinely drawn to him.  He made you smile and feel grounded.  Good traits any human should live by.

5. Are you working on any photo projects or exhibitions right now? 

Yes I am!  I’m really excited about this project - it’s just getting under way and will be an ongoing project featured on my blog.  My goal for “In The Bedroom”, is to empower women and encourage them to be the best versions of themselves through a series of short and sweet interviews with empowered women. These are women who have been able to break down barriers to create their own personal successes. 

Why In The Bedroom? I want to photograph them in the place we let our guard down, kick off our shoes and dream big. I want the readers to connect with my empowered women on a more personal level, in a relatable way - woman to woman.   I’ll ask a series of questions pertaining to their empowered life and then ask them to nominate a women they feel lives an empowered life.