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Meet Lisa Gisczinski of Elle G Photography in Pacific Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Gisczinski.

Lisa, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
After graduating from Penn State with a degree in psychology, I trained sea lions, dolphins, and killer whales at SeaWorld, entertaining audiences in several shows per day. I’m somebody who follows my dreams, and when I found out that SeaWorld was a career option, I did everything I could to follow that. I trained animals for 13 years, and let me tell you, being launched by a killer whale 20 feet in the air, multiple times a day, takes its toll on the body. During a killer whale show in 2006, I broke my foot which sidelined me for an entire summer. The very next year, I partially amputated one of my big toes while performing in a killer whale show. So during those times of injury , I began taking pictures of my fellow trainers and sea life. I was instantly hooked on photography. In 2006, I photographed my first wedding, and by 2008, I left SeaWorld to continue photography full time. In 2015, I pivoted my life/business again to focus exclusively on underwater and beach lifestyle photography. Underwater photography is the perfect medium for me since I am a swimmer, surfer, paddle boarder, snorkeler and all around water person. Beach lifestyle works great because I love to photograph beach lovers in their natural state of happiness, feet submerged in sand and a beautifully candid expression on their face.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to photography has actually been a very difficult one, but that is sometimes what pushes us to show up and work hard! 2008 was a difficult year for so many reasons. That was the year I quit my job as an animal trainer to pursue my new passion of photography. It was also the year I was planning my wedding.The plan was for my husband to be the breadwinner while I took time to build my fledgling business. Not two months later, he loses his job as a pilot. The recession hits, and he’s unable to find a job because he is overqualified (true story) and I was trying to build a business that wasn’t quite bringing home the bacon yet.Our wedding date was a month after that. You can imagine our financial and mental state. That’s the unpredictable thing about life, sometimes it hands you lemons. How you handle it will change the trajectory of your life. I think it’s important to look at the glass half full whenever possible, and it’s was/is always possible… Keeping a good attitude about life, regardless of what is thrown your way, is incredibly important… and actually, things have always turned out better than I could have imagined. Three years later, my husband landed a dream job, which now allows me to pursue my passions a little more stress-free.In addition to our personal happenings, Southern California is one of the most difficult and highly saturated photography markets in the country. It’s not just about talent anymore. There are literally thousands of truly talented photographers in the area. But, if your work ethic isn’t superior, you’re not going to make it very far. Overall the process has been rocky but I can guarantee you, I’m stronger for it.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My business is Elle G Photography, and I specialize in underwater and beach lifestyle photography. My photography is for water waders, sunset seekers and sand lovers… the beach enthusiast, the palm tree addict OR any girl (or boy!) that wishes to channel their inner mermaid. My photography is known for its bright, vivid color and candid expressions. I’m all about capturing peoples true personality. A photography session with me is like having a unique date day of absolute fun with your family, playing on the beach. I’m most proud that we are starting an event called Mermaids of Hope. Mermaids of Hope is an annual event for kids battling cancer from Rady Children’s Hospital. Participants will get their mermaid photos taken by me at no cost. I have seen how much joy my photographs have brought to families and know how children have a special affinity for mermaids. I teamed up with cancer survivor, Joy Clausen Soto, who has been treated at a children’s hospital for cancer and is now an eighteen-year survivor. Joy saw first hand how families used all of their finances to save their child’s life, leaving little to no money left for extras like photography. Together we created this annual event to bring a little happiness back into the lives of children who have been touched by this terrible disease. We are just at the initial stages, but we would love to collaborate with make-up artists, headband designers, jewelry makers, and anyone that has a heart for kids with cancer. Heck, we even need a few muscly men to help out with moving the children from spot to spot, once they are in their mermaid tail. Please reach out to if you think you might be interested in volunteering. The event will hopefully take place in June or July each year.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a shy child. I was fairly introverted unless I knew you well and I was definitely afraid of Santa Claus! I was a girlie, tomboy and still am. I have always LOVED outdoor adventures so that included bike riding, skateboarding, swimming, and ice skating, to name a few. I grew up in a small mobile home, in Erie Pa, with my mom and older brother. We really didn’t have much, but we had bicycles and an orange carpet in the house that was perfect for playing “the floor is Lava”, which definitely made for a happy childhood. At 14, I joined my high school swim team and was instantly hooked. My brother and I always splashed around in the neighbor’s pool, growing up, but the swim team is where I truly fell in love with swimming and a fish was born.

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