Student Success: Student Success: Cat Granger
1. When did you realize that photography was the field you wanted to pursue?
Last year (2016) after my husband came back from yet another deployment overseas and another year of me looking for jobs where we are stationed without much success we realized how among everything else I have done and tried, photography has always been a constant passion. I was afraid that doing it professionally would steal the joy of creativity but it has been the opposite! I decided to “try it out and see where it goes” last year and I have only grown since then.
2. When did you enroll at NYIP?
I enrolled in 2014 because I was tired of my retail job and I also had a scholarship available to me through the Air Force. NYIP seemed like my best choice and it had been a long time since I had had any photography training.
3. What was your coursework like?
I love that I can watch my materials on my tablet right on the couch, some lessons were a little lengthy but probably because they weren’t my main focus, like intro to videography and some very technical chapters about film (although I am glad I have them if I ever need to read about it). I am currently enrolled in a second course with NYIP.
4. Was your mentor helpful during the process?
Yes! Every time I contacted the school, they were there for me and I absolutely love that they will always be there for me, even after graduation.
5. What type of work are you doing now?
At this time, I’m a full-time portrait photographer working with families, high school seniors and I also offer Boudoir photography.
6. Tell us about Cat Granger Photography.
Cat Granger Photography started at the end of 2016. I am currently based in Valdosta, Georgia (although I will be relocating in 2018) but I photograph worldwide and love destination sessions and weddings.
I have developed a bright style with pops of color and my main focus is to make it fun, to capture genuine emotion and create images that tell stories. I love candid moments.
I specialize in weddings and portraits. I love photographing couples, serving the military community where I live and giving my clients a fun experience.
7. You seem to have extensive experience in weddings- did you always want to get into this specific niche?
I was actually afraid of wedding photography. I didn’t even consider it when going through the course, but then I realized that I was scared because I didn’t want to ruin someone’s special day because I could miss something important.
I started a posing course with a well-known wedding photographer (Katelyn James) and realized that if I knew what I was doing, then I had nothing to be afraid of! I dove right into weddings, as an assistant, as a second shooter and have done them on my own as the lead, and sometimes the only photographer. I love it, celebrating love is just a wonderful thing!
8. How do you find new clients and advertise the work you do?
Currently I am advertising on local groups through Facebook, I have done two styled photoshoots, SEO optimization for my area, blogging and referrals. I am enrolled in the marketing class with NYIP so my methods might change soon!
9. What qualities do you think a successful, aspiring photographer needs?
Eagerness to learn! Never stop learning and never think you’re too good to keep learning or not good enough you can’t be successful. Be consistent, be considerate, be genuine and learn basic business skills.
10. What do you always carry with you in your camera bag?
Ugh, a long list. Two camera bodies, 50mm lens, 85mm lens, 24-120mm lens, 35mm lens, one flash unit, extra batteries, extra flash batteries, SD cards, extra SD cards, battery charger, camera strap, pens, notepad, business cards, bug spray, an emergency little bag (band-aids, tampons, matches, pliers, chapstick, sunscreen, tissues, painkillers, etc…), flashlight, cleaning cloth, credit card reader, lint roller and red lipstick.
11. What’s the most interesting thing you learned at NYIP?
This question has been stumping me. I don’t think I can pick just one thing, I loved the whole package; definitely learned a lot about lighting. Both natural and artificial and how I could actually have a studio setup with just one light.
I love the peek into all the career fields within photography and a little of business and copyright. They may not be the most interesting things to study but I’d say they’re definitely important
12. If you had to pick one, what was the most memorable photography project you’ve ever completed?
The one that involved the most work was an elopement that I styled with local vendors. I was the planner, designer and the photographer. I gathered models, a florist, makeup artist and a cake decorator. My husband helped me by making a table for it, it took a lot of planning and praying the weather would be good. I spent most of the day photographing the project like on a real wedding day and it turned out amazing. The blog post can be viewed here.
13. Describe a workday in your life as a photographer.
On office days, I sit at my desk answering emails, posting on social media, marketing and editing. If I have a session, I stop working earlier to get ready for the session and make sure to back everything up before I “clock out” for the day.
Wedding days are totally different. I make sure all my gear is ready 4 times, I get there early to check the light and to be sure I won’t be late. Then photograph all day! I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck the next day, but then you edit like there’s no tomorrow!
14. What’s the most rewarding part of studying photography?
To me, growing and seeing the results in my work. When you look at your own images and think to yourself, “I did this” and everyone else notices, it gives you a great rewarding feeling of accomplishment.
15. What subject is usually your favorite to shoot for fun?
Travel photography with landscapes, wildlife and macro. I probably have 5264 flower pictures.
16. If you could give one piece of advice to our current and prospective students, what would it be?
Start shooting RAW as soon as possible and practice as much as you can!
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