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Meet Paula Watts of Paula Watts Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paula Watts.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Paula. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a right-brained thinker. Always drawing or painting, etc. I took a high school photography class and remembered the awe I felt seeing my image appear through the developing process. I decided to look into Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara (where I later received my bachelor’s degree of advertising photography) because I was excited that I could combine a love for marketing and advertising and the art of photography into one medium. I took that strong foundation of learning everything I could in photography at Brooks and mixed it with assisting some world-renowned photographers and then started my company in 2005.

Although I feel like I’m always learning and always perfecting my craft, those two elements really kicked off my career in photography. By my first year, I was hired internationally to travel and photograph some of the top chefs in Norway, photographed for non-profits in developing countries such as India and parts of Africa and gained some really interesting commercial clients. It was a love for travel and photography through that started changing my worldview and perspective, and really gave me a focus for my photography. I’ve since been around the globe, photographing for non-profits and for-profits for imagery that helps the consumer connect to the product and their justice-based mission.

For example, I traveled to India to work with a retailer who employs and trains women to sew who have been rescued from sex-trafficking and makes beautiful clothing as a way of supporting their families. Not only do I get to collaborate with these companies who are literally changing social threads and how we look at our products and purchase power, but I get to photograph these incredibly brave and beautiful people who did not let life circumstances overcome them. My life has forever changed because of it and I am so grateful this gets to be my career.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Oh gosh. The struggles are real. I remember one of my teachers at Brooks saying “the business of photography is probably 90% business and 10% actually photographing”. It’s so true. Bids, negotiating, contracts, taxes, licensing, marketing, networking. Sometimes the creative process can get stifled in all of that. It’s all an active journey, happening in real time, and you have stay inspired and fresh.

Another aspect is rejection. I think every industry deals with it, but as a creative, your wounds could be a little more exposed. Having people understand your worth as a creative and business owner is crucial but most importantly YOU understanding and holding on to your worth is where the true magic lies.

Paula Watts Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Paula Watts Photography started in 2005, specializing in advertising photography. That lends to somewhat a broad spectrum of clientele because every company needs advertising photography, but that’s one of the things I love most about my company. It lends to diversity and always keeps me on my toes. One day, I could be photographing food for a restaurant and the next day, I could be photographing models for a clothing campaign. It’s fun.

I’ve always said that attention to detail and lighting quality sets me apart. I’m kind of a control freak about both those things, and as the years have passed, I’ve started appreciating that quality rather than apologizing for it. I ask a lot of questions from my clients to really understand what they need and what they expect so we can be on the same page with little surprises. I can’t tell you how many clients have thanked me for that attention to detail because it saves them a lot of headaches with deadlines and getting images they need for their campaigns.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think growth is success. Not staying stagnant. That can mean monetarily, sure, but for me, it’s growth in relationships, both personally and professionally, growth in understanding, growth in compassion.

I never want to be the same person I was 5 or 10 years ago. That would be boring, but also probably not possible. Life experiences and life lessons keep us from staying stagnant and I want all of them.

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