Shutters open at Through My Shutter



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Angela Gregory on the side of the camera where she's most comfortable. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
August 12, 2009
BERLIN — One more space filled.

As part of its continuing coverage of people with a passion for growth in Berlin, the Reporter is bringing more stories of the small businesses moving the city forward.

This week: Angela Gregory.

Angela Gregory's camera is always at her side.

"I don't ever go anywhere without it. I will shoot anything. I look at everything in terms of what kind of picture it would make," she said. "My dad bought my first camera for me when I was in middle school. It's been an ongoing thing ever since."

She has shot everything: landscapes, portraits, flowers, events, sports. And she will shoot anything: weddings, senior pictures, track meets, babies, flowers, graveyards. Her children have no fear of a camera lens because they've been smiling into one for years.

This March she decided to turn her passion for photography into her profession.

"I've always said the perfect job would be photographing for National Geographic or Sports Illustrated," she said.

Instead, she is photographing for herself.

Her business, called Through My Shutter, is in a small studio on Glen Avenue, attached to Hair Zone.

She came up with the idea around the beginning of the year. She was getting her hair done, talking about her passion for photography, and suddenly it clicked. She pulled together her camera equipment, bought a little bit more, rented and redid the space, and then she started offering photo services. It took her two months to get off the ground, spending nothing but her own money, but now she is working as a photographer, living her dream.

"I've wanted to do it as long as I can remember," Mrs. Gregory said. "You don't know if you don't try."

And her business has done well. She has shot several weddings, and recently senior portraits have kept her busy. She has also been shooting baby pictures and pregnancy photos.

"The biggest challenge has been getting the word out," she said. Often people hear about her from other clients, she said, which has resulted in a number of projects. And she has been advertising as well, particularly for the senior portraits.

"I'm not going to lie, it's hard to make a living as a photographer," she said. "You have to keep the passion for it. You have to always try new things."

Her passion is still strong, and she uses it to get her images. She works with her subjects, giving them time to loosen up and feel comfortable in front of the camera.

"You have to figure out what the subject is willing to do, and what you need to do to get the picture they like," she said. "You have to find something to connect with them."

For one high school girl, Mrs. Gregory said, it was a simple statement. The girl sat with an uncomfortable smile waiting for her to shoot the photo. Mrs. Gregory kept trying to loosen her up, but nothing she said did any good. Finally she got an idea.

"Tell me something embarrassing about your mom," she said. The girl's smile cracked wide, and for the rest of the session she smiled for the camera.

"You have to figure out things as you go," Mrs. Gregory said. "It's whatever hits at the moment."

At one wedding, held in a tight space with very a few people, she had to get up, down, and side to side to get everyone and make the images she wanted. She works harder because she feels beholden to the people who hire her.

"I try to connect and find something in common with every client," she said. "I try to get them the picture I would want."

And so far she has been successful. After one shoot with a high school boy, she got confirmation of her success shortly after posting his photos online.

"Not 20 minutes after I put them up he called me to say thank you," she said, which made her feel she'd done her job.

She hopes her job will continue to grow, and Through My Shutter will be even more successful. Hopefully she can continue to combine her passion and her work, she said.

"Hopefully people want to continue to share their special moments with me," she said.

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