Today we’d like to introduce you to TJ McGuire.
Hi TJ, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
My story starts like any other story recently… COVID! During the nationwide shutdown and the months that followed, I found myself getting kicked out of my place by the landlord without warning or help. Trying to find a place to live was like finding my future wife, full of rejection and always coming in second place or…last. Losing my place to live caused me to almost be homeless because I found my place only hours after technically not having a place to live. I lost my job during the crisis, and everywhere I applied said I was over-qualified and under-experienced. Since I had my MBA, companies were not hiring me because I decided to get my MBA. I did not let that stop me from applying and searching for places to live. While on one of my many outings to find a place to live, I met up with friends at a food hall to eat and enjoy company. One of my friends took out his camera and gave it to me to hold. I starting messing around the camera by taking pictures and absolutely fell in love. Every snap of the shutter filled me with so much joy. The same feeling like stuffing my face with loaded fries or dancing on the dance floor like any crazy would. As the days went on, I thought about different ways to make money. One of those ways was to get paid to take photos. However, after several bouts of imposter syndrome and self-inflicting verbal negativity, the idea of taking photos fell away and was lost amongst the ideas and dreams of the past. Fast forward to a year ago, on my birthday, I decided to buy a camera for myself because if no one would bless me with a gift, I would buy myself one and celebrate turning another year older. I thought it was way better than going from restaurant to restaurant getting free things like a Birthday Grand-slam from Denny’s or a bundt cake. The first pictures I ever took with my camera was of my dog. She couldn’t care less about it, but I loved it. My pictures weren’t the best, but they were the ones I remember. The feelings I felt while taking photos with my friend’s camera were exactly the same feelings, I felt with taking pictures with mine. So now, a year in I am ready to start taking more photos. I have practiced and taken more photos. I started an Instagram with my photography and hopefully soon create a website when I become more established as a photographer. I am new to the game but very eager to start trying to make a living out of it. For me it is all about Capturing Memories and Snapping Moments, I just need people that want their photos was taken and money to pay for the gas to get there.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been as smooth as I would like it to be. One of the biggest struggles I had to face was losing my job. Once I lost my job stress, and anxiety tortured its way through my life. I was struggling just to survive and I was on the precipice of homelessness. So, I tried many ways to start a business because everywhere I applied said I was over-qualified and under-experienced because I have my MBA. Photography helped me start in a new direction. Cameras are very complex and I am still learning every day what it means. While learning the complexities of cameras, then throwing in the environment, animals, or people, I suffer from the feeling of never going to be good enough. Struggling with imposter syndrome only leads to dwelling on the minuscule problems of everything else. Also, living in California doesn’t help with the finances. With camera equipment being so expensive, the struggle to take a great shot or even edit it sits heavy on the dreams of what I believe my photography should look like. The lesson I learned is, I take photos for ME and share them with people. So why should I believe in my own negativity or the negativity in others? Photography is art and beauty are in the eye of the beholder. So, If I take a photo I do it for ME and nobody else. I just hope whoever sees my photo sees the beauty I see.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
What is there to know? I recently started taking photos. There are babies older than my photography career. I love taking photos of everyday life. Nothing dramatized and staged. I like to see beauty and take a picture of it and saving it forever. I specialize in taking of photos of anyone or anything that allows me. I would love to dive deeper into taking photos of people. Because what is more beautiful than humanity. I am known for my pictures of my dog. I have to say she is the cutest dog in the world. I am most proud of the fact I actually went out and started taking photos. It was no longer an idea or dream. It is my reality. There are so many photographers in the world that I can’t even begin to compare any of them to me. I don’t know them, and I would feel bad to even try to compare. However, the only thing that sets me apart is the fact that I am probably more excited to take the photo than the person is to get their photo taken. Also, I love to dance, and I love meeting new people.
Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
After losing my job during COVID, I had to decide to step out and take risks. Risk Taking for me it is a risk (or step in faith) to even do these interview questions. Just by stepping out in faith and hoping things work out is a risk I took by becoming a photographer. Life is full taking risks. Driving in California is taking a risk. Jokes aside, taking risks is a part of everyday life. There is a story of a Queen from a faraway land living in a neighboring kingdom full of people of a different cultures, beliefs, and upbringing. Although the king found her beauty so divine, the king’s right-hand man hated the queen and decided to make a law that will kill anybody that was from the same country as the queen. However, a friend of the queen found out and rushed to the queen, saying, “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house, you’re the one who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for your countrymen from someplace else, but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”
This story has really touched my life because when I feel like I should take a risk and I don’t, I think of this story, and it inspires me to do something. I choose to take a step of faith because, who knows, maybe I was made for such a time as this.