24 May STEPH GRANT STUDIOS
Hey guys! Steph here. Your time is precious…I will cut to the chase. I am about to introduce you to some of the greatest people in the universe. I am so incredibly proud of each and every one of the humans listed below. They are talented, loving individuals who put their heart and soul into everything they do. They are leaders. Activists. Risk takers and I love that they aren’t afraid to courageously be themselves at all costs. You should love them as much as I do.
It is not often that I trust others with my clients. I am more of a lone wolf. I am learning. Slowly but surely. I thought learning to trust people in my personal life would be hard…trusting people in business has been quite the process. Most of you know the story…in 2011 I had nothing. No clients. Just me an my squirrel Chihuahua and a Rebel T2i (that was later stolen). I couldn’t even take myself out to a nice dinner. For me, a treat was having both top ramen AND Eggo waffles in one night while sitting at my desk trying to figure out how I was going to pay rent while watching infomercials about disc sets from the 1970s. Watch out.
This year I finally started expanding. I selected my team with the utmost care. I wanted those who led with their hearts. Women owned businesses. LGBTQ owned businesses. Both established artists and artists just starting out. I had no doubt in my mind that we could all learn from each other no matter where we were in our careers. I knew this team would just click when I messaged each of them. I call them my dream team because I know I could call them up and completely dominate a wedding, a corporate event, a dance floor or all of the above. Enjoy getting to know them and thank you Layne for putting together such a slick video of the team for the TONI ATKINS event in California.
1. How would you describe your photography style/ What would you consider your niche?
LAYNE: Minimal style portraits with muted colors and a modern feel.
KELLY: Weddings, lifestyle, candid
JAMIE: Documentary, emotion-forward imagery. My niche is capturing queers! I love shooting Portraiture and storytelling with my camera.
JENNA: My work is warm. Not only in how I edit but in the emotions I bring out. Candid photos get my heart pumping. Photographing couples and families are my jam because I love connection between people and movement.
ALEXA: Well, I didn’t shoot this event! I handled Client Relations and Team Management and I would say my style for that is direct and detailed. My job entailed a lot of logistics and behind the scenes work on the front end. Then on the day of, I acted as liaison between the SGS Team and Event Coordination/Client Teams to ensure flawless execution and that everything was in place for the photographers to do what they do best!
2. What was your favorite part about shooting the Toni Atkins Event?
LAYNE: My favorite part was definitely meeting and getting to spend the entire day with the other photographers. Seeing their style and getting to know them really made me happy. I also loved getting to experience an event unlike anything that I have ever been to.
KELLY: Working with such an incredible team for an incredible cause.
JAMIE: The team! I loved how seamlessly we all worked together, how supportive we all were, and the amount of coverage we were able to provide. It felt so nice to be with a team where there were no egos to check, we all just wanted to work for the good of the event and get shots to put together a great story for the client.
JENNA:My favorite part (besides working with the best group of photographers out there) was walking around and watching people talk. With it being an LGBTQ+ event, everyone was comfortable to express themselves and their love freely, and that radiated from every person I talked to. Everyone was so happy, and that left a huge impression on me.
ALEXA: Hands down, the team I had the privilege of working with! The genuine excitement, support and camaraderie was immediate and palpable. We were all well aware of the gravity of what we were documenting. There is always a chance that with a blend of such strong personalities some may clash. Not the case. The bond was immediate and everyone worked so well together!
3. Why do you feel it is important to support LGBTQ owned/Woman Owned businesses?
LAYNE: Supporting LGBTQ/Woman owned businesses shows that you care and enourage people to be themselves. Whether you are buying their products, telling people about their brand, visiting their business etc. The support you show these businesses quickly determines how successful these too can be without a straight, white man in charge.
KELLY: I feel a lot of women, historically, are suppressed and do not know the power they have. So when you see a woman knowing and owning their power it allows other women to realize how powerful they are too.
JAMIE: I love supporting other LGBTQ/Woman owned businesses because I want to see us all succeed! It’s such a harsh world out there business wise, especially when you’re not a white, cis, hetero man, and I love defying the odds and watching other businesses who have women and LGBTQ folks at the top rise to to the top. I think it’s so important to support and collaborate with other businesses like mine.
JENNA: It’s immensely important to support LGBTQ owned businesses because there are people who still have stigmas against us. We have to stick together and show the world how great we are, personally and professionally. Owning a business that is openly LGBTQ friendly is important to me because I want the queer community to know that they have people who would absolutely love to work with them, especially since I live in the South where there is more negativity surrounding the LGBTQ community.
ALEXA: I think it is so rare but such a breath of fresh air and so incredibly necessary to have women who are supportive of each other. One thing Steph and I have in common is that we are firm believers in surrounding yourself with strong, smart and talented women so when we began going over our “picks” for who to bring on for this event it was not even something we needed to or had discussed in advance. As an LGBTQ small business owner myself, I know the desperate need for people to support the community because so many don’t.
4. What was it like working with Steph?
LAYNE: Amazing. Seriously, I had such a great time and I am so thankful that Steph reached out to me. It is such a good feeling knowing someone loves your work enough to ask you to help them with a such an amazing event.
KELLY: A dream! She’s so fun, focus and friendly. Triple F! Lol. I felt like we immediately clicked when meeting. She’s the kind of woman that makes everyone feel important and special. I’ve worked with other photographers and some lack how to be professional and fun and Steph is blessed to know both.
JAMIE: A DREAM! I always get nervous meeting people who seem so cool on the internet. But Steph was so down to earth, fun to work with, uplifting and kind, and assembled an incredible team. I loved how much fun we had while still getting the job done well, and how she treated the whole team with such care. I really hope we get to work together more in the future!
JENNA: Where do I even begin? Steph is spunky, immensely kind, and has an energy about her like I’ve never seen. She’s unapologetically herself, with every person she meets. She easily befriends everyone she meets. She takes them in and claims them as friends. She gives every person a chance to be important to her. Steph is first and foremost a friend, and that’s why working with her professionally is so easy. She delegates and divides the tasks as a team. Not once did she make me feel like I wasn’t good enough to be working with her. Steph is the best of the best. (And I could write a paragraph with equal praise about her precious girlfriend/business sidekick Alexa. They are an amazing team!)
ALEXA: I get the pleasure of working with Steph everyday, and in many capacities. I’ve never met anyone who pours so much of themselves into everything they do. Of all the clients I’ve had, the ones who really believe in their product/ vision/ brand, those are my favorites. And Steph doesn’t just believe in her work, she believes in the work of those that she trusts to have on her team. She trusts their creative vision and gives them freedom to tell the story the way they see fit. She truly recognizes and respects each of the artists and see them all as her peers. I also have a HUGE love for the intention in which she does things, one of those “things” being her bringing on photographers that might not be as experienced and open to mentoring them. She is a leader by nature so it is always fun to watch her do this sort of “go forth and conquer” pep talk, a quick wave of the hand and just like that everyone is off being documenting ninjas. Effortlessly. I think she’s pretty great! <3 (…And so does the California LGBT Caucus, who are naming her an Honoree on the Senate floor during session next month for her work with LGBT youth!!!)
5. What was a moment you will never forget about the #CALGBT event, either personal or professionally?
LAYNE: Personally, a moment I will never forget is seeing how well everyone comes together to make something big happen. There were so many tasks that came together to make it such an amazing experience for everyone. There were probably 10-15 florists setting up flowers and they looked perfect. Steph’s team of photographers, including myself, all came together to help with whatever it is that was needed. Seeing people with smiles on their faces while “working” is new to me. Usually when I hear people refer to their job or “working”, it comes off as negative. As if they don’t enjoy what they are doing for a living. That was not the case at all, and that was something incredible that I loved to see.
KELLY: I’ll never forget the reason why the event was being put on! It’s an event that will definitely go down in history for the LGBTQ community for having the first openly gay WOMAN be held in such a high position politically.
JAMIE: Professionally— I got chills thinking about what a big deal this was for the community and how amazing it is to be a part of historical moments like this for LGBTQ folks. Personally, I loved our team dance party at the end, how we brought back everyone to the dance floor, and how much I laughed. I love how funny everyone was, and obviously, great dancers! 🙂
JENNA: Steph asked me to go to the VIP room by myself to get some detail shots and to photograph the people arriving. I was the only person she sent to do this task, and it meant a lot to me that she trusted me to do a good job on my own.
ALEXA: Having worked in Experiential Marketing the good majority of my career I’ve worked some pretty incredible events and campaigns with massive brands and talent that were/are household names. This far surpassed any of those. The immense joy I felt to witness such a monumental moment in history was immeasurable! Being a woman and openly queer is rough and Senator Atkins has surely defied some incredible odds. I think she is an incredible role model for young people in the LGBTQ community and adults alike and I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in such a historical event!
6. Fun Fact about you that no one knows.
LAYNE: I type in “synonym for ‘blank'” into google probably 5 times a day to try and improve my vocabulary.
KELLY: Fun fact about me is that I actually have written and published two young adult, lgbtq books. 🙂
JAMIE: I love singing but I have horrible stage fright!
JENNA: I’ve traveled more than I’ve been home so far this year.
ALEXA: Cold pizza is for sure one of my top 3 favorite breakfast foods. I’m actually an 80 year old woman and LOVE to needle felt random things.
STEPH: I used to be insecure about my ears so I would keep my hair long…now I like them because I feel like my head is FINALLY growing into them. Kinda.