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Check Out Gretchen Otero’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gretchen Otero.

Gretchen, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Today I am a professional photographer most known for photographing pets and their people. People also seek out my services for high school senior photography and weddings. My full service approach to your photography session will help you plan a stress free & relaxed experience that will deliver authentic and natural artwork of the people and pets you love the most. I love to play with lighting and create in my portrait studio located near USD and I also offer portrait sessions on location or in clients’ homes.

I began my journey as a professional photographer in 2004 in Mobile, AL and was very blessed with a busy schedule and diverse clientele that included families, pets, weddings, high school seniors, babies and more. My broad range of experience allows me to help both people and pets feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

When my husband and I moved from Mobile to San Diego I thought I would put my photography days behind me, and I jumped into the office job life. I had some amazing opportunities and experiences but my creative needs were not being fulfilled and I knew I needed to bring photography back into my life.

I made the decision not to return to an office environment mid-pandemic. That’s a great time to start a new in-person business, right? It actually went better than expected. I adore Pet Photography so I worked on that aspect of my launch first and slowly added families, people and weddings back into my offerings. My calendar is now a fabulous mix of pets, families, high school seniors, and weddings. I love this because it keeps my work exciting and entertaining and allows me to use all of my creativity in different ways! My heart is so full!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Some of my biggest struggles surprisingly came from within! I had all of these silly limiting beliefs that I let go on for far too long. At one point I thought “I don’t know anyone in San Diego, so I can’t build a business.” Another thought was, “I don’t know the best secret spots for location sessions (like I did back home) so I can’t book any location sessions.” One by one, I started to prove myself wrong and business started to go in the right direction! When I had perceived failures I took them as an opportunity to learn, and with each perceived success I gave thanks!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I specialize in creating heirloom artwork through wall prints and albums. I give people a reason to smile as they pass through their homes and see the artwork we created at their portrait session displayed on their walls. My clients can effortlessly glance over the fireplace and immediately feel the joy captured in their portrait. Even when they aren’t having their best day they will pause and smile when they see their artwork. The ability to bring effortless daily joy to people is what I’m most proud of!

Every portrait session is unique and designed to meet clients’ specific goals. I want to hear all of their hopes and dreams for their session! Before I click the camera we discuss the places in their home that they would like to display their new artwork and we create artwork to match their home!

After the portrait session, we have a virtual Portrait Reveal Celebration where clients first see their edited artwork. I use state-of-the-art software to show exactly how their favorite images will look on their own walls! This is always everyone’s favorite part of the process.

Clients have me from the planning of the session through the delivery of their artwork. There is no guesswork or uncertainty along the way. My process will make every session a total success!

People love the full service approach and I love seeing the smile on their faces when I deliver their custom artwork!

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
I’ve been told I have a gift for making people relax and have fun which translates into natural and authentic portraits of you and your family. Clients love my portrait sessions because they are designed to feel more like a relaxed day in the park or studio. We hang out, we talk, we have fun, and we take some amazing photographs. Kiddos and pets are never expected to “sit and stay!” Through encouragement and play we are able to capture their genuine personalities, not forced smiles.

I’ve seen a lot in my 15+ years as a professional photographer so I’m not surprised by much anymore. My process ensures that wrangling a spirited 2 year old, angsty teen, and wild rescue pup all together and capture genuine smiles won’t be a problem!

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