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Meet Liz Romeka of Third Strand Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Liz Romeka.

Liz, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My senior year of high school, I took a film photography class. Although I come from a fairly artistic family, I had never really found a medium I fell in love with. Photography changed all that for me and I fell hard. I loved the way a photograph could lead the viewer to focus on a detail that gets lost in everyday life. I loved rolling the film from that B&W Canon camera, I loved seeing it develop in the darkroom. What started out as an “easy A” class, became so much more for me.

College came around and I decided to focus on a more “stable” major, rather than art. I lost photography for a bit, but when my oldest daughter was born, I had a chance encounter with a friend’s roommate who happened to be a photographer. She snapped a few quick photos of my newborn and I was instantly transported back to that feeling I had in the darkroom, except rather than just focusing on details, I was focused on connection. I cherished these photos of my sweet baby girl & I, and I knew that I wanted to be able to give that gift to other families as well.

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?
A lot had changed in the short time between high school and college and I had a lot to learn. My first digital camera was a Pentax K series and it was a workhorse! I took it anywhere and everywhere with me. I took so many classes and I took photos of everyone I knew and some people I didn’t!

When it was finally time to start my business in Ernest, I looked around at the sheer number of photographers in San Diego and I was overwhelmed. I have two mantras that I’ve held tight to from the beginning. The first is “work hard & be kind”. The second is, “just keep swimming” (thanks Dory!). In order to succeed in a saturated market, I knew I would have to “keep swimming” so to speak. Keep working, keep getting better, keep after the business end of the art, never give up!

In every part of my work, I do my best to work hard and be kind in order to give clients and their families the best experience possible. I do both weddings and family portraits, but I only take a limited number of weddings each year because those events are such an intense and personal time in a person’s life. I want to be able to connect with my couples and their families.

At a wedding, my team spends the most one on one time with a couple of any vendor. We see the day through from beginning to end and we want to be high-fiving groomsmen and hugging grandmas by the end of the night! Starting out, I strictly photographed families only. I loved working with kids (which is what I went to school for) and I even won a few awards for my photographs of children.

One day, a good friend from Napa called and asked me to fly up for a weekend. She had several weddings booked, but due to some health issues, she needed a backup photographer to work with her. Looking back, I think she saw how much I would love this side of photography and was giving me the extra push I needed to enter the wedding market.

After that weekend I knew that this is what I wanted to do. Photographing the connection and love at a wedding, between a bride and a groom, or father and daughter, bridesmaids getting all made up, or a little ring bearer and the groom is something I will never get tired of! About a year and a half ago, though, I started to feel like I was getting stagnant. Although my work was good, I didn’t feel like it was improving the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t sure exactly which path I should take or how to get to the next level.

Thankfully, two amazing photographers stepped in and mentored me. Amy Gray, a well known and incredible San Diego family photographer took me under her wing and truly helped me step up my family photography game.

Shortly after I started working with Amy, I was incredibly lucky to win a dream trip to Ireland with one of my favorite wedding photographers, Sadi Alford. The trip was an intensive mix of breathtaking photoshoots and deep conversations about our businesses, marketing, and how to be a better photographer overall. The connections I made in Ireland, and the outpouring of support and knowledge from others in this business, lifting each other up and making each other stronger is something that you don’t get to see every day!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Third Strand Photography is my photography company. I work with families to create meaningful portraits and memories as well as working with couples to capture unforgettable moments on their wedding day. I am known for beach photography as well as creating portraits that capture true moments of connection instead of just staged posing. We want clients to look back on their photographs (wedding or family) and feel something about the moment captured instead of just a perfect smile or pose.

As a business, we pride ourselves in our own connection with clients and in going above and beyond when needed. We only take a limited number of weddings each year and I try to always meet with couples before they book in order to make sure we are a good match. We want to work with people who understand us as a company and share similar values (such as kindness and hard work!). I work with some incredible people, all of whom I am so proud of.

A couple of years back, I had a second shooter out with me and the wedding was running VERY far behind. She had taken all the photos she needed to for that time and while other vendors were waiting around she spent over an hour helping the coordinator set up the entire reception hall. Anyone of the people who work with us have and are willing to do similarly to make sure our couples have the best day of their lives.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in LA as an only child. I remember spending hours on rainy days in the LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) exploring the exhibits. As an only child, I was able to be a little like a fly on the wall when adults were around and that taught me to observe the interaction between people which is something that helps my photography today.

I also was crazy about animals – and still am! I planned to have a full menagerie of animals. Currently, we have two big dogs, two cats and a bearded dragon, so I don’t think I’ve completely let down the younger version of myself!

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