Meet Gabrielle Darko of Eliza Photography
I started doing photography in around tenth grade basically just to take pictures for family events or for travel. People kept telling me I had a gift so I decided to pick it up more throughout highschool. By my senior year, I had started my own business and gotten many inquiries for graduations, weddings, etc. I went to college and then my business really started kicking! I built my own website, booking site, Instagram, portfolio, etc. and was having up to three shoots per week! Some of my work has been published in magazines and online publications and I have become an official photographer for various organizations!
It has not been a smooth road! I resigned from my leadership position at my job and chose photography as my main source of income and that was a very hard decision. Photography is not always the steadiest of occupations. There were definitely some weeks where I went without being booked and it can really hurt your ego and bank account! Another struggle I had was learning how to navigate and communicate my needs and wants for my business. It took a lot to lay down the rules and expectations I had when it came to compensation and crediting my work. Those are two factors that matter most in this field and it is sometimes a tough conversation to have with people that do not want to hear or do it. It is all a learning game though. Most of my business began to boom by word of mouth and other people loving my results and prices so they recommended me to more clients who would then also become frequent clients. You have to keep grinding no matter what other people say. If it is your passion and you have confidence in your abilities, then no one can tell you that you WON’T be successful! You have to get past the mistakes and the days where you’re not as busy. Market yourself! Gain trustworthy clientele and most of all, KEEP GOING!
I am a photographer from the Greater Houston area. I started out only taking National Geographic type of pictures. I never wanted to take portrait people pictures until I realized the beauty in it and it is now what I mainly do. I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to independently market and grow my ability and business. Everything I have learned about photography has been self-taught and self-financed. I did not know how to edit, or even what Adobe Lightroom was and now people ask me to help them edit their pictures! I did not know what ISO, aperture or shutter speed was and now I teach people how to use and adjust them. The only photography class that I have ever taken was a film photography one in high school. It taught me a lot about how to really use my camera and capture the right moments because you only have thirty-six chances on the roll to do so. I transferred that knowledge and delicate thinking even to my digital photography and I think that is what makes my pictures so special and set apart. Every shot is of value and every picture has a purpose, even if it’s just a selfie on an iPhone. Every person I shoot has a story and I try to capture that emotion in my sessions so that the viewer can interpret the story however they see fit.
I define success by the improvement in the quality and quantity of my pictures. When I look at my work from when I started and where I am now, I see success. When I look at my catalog and the number of pictures I have from when I started and what I have now, I see success. To me, success does not always mean getting paid the most or noticed the most, even though that is great too, it is more of a self-reflective thing where I can look at my art and be proud of it. When I see growth in my clientele and following or when I see more range and diversity in my portfolio, that is when I start labeling myself as successful. Everyone has different markers, but as for me in this field, it is simply when I see myself expanding creatively to produce more.