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Meet Terran Bayer of Westway Studio in Mira Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Terran Bayer.

Terran, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I fell in love with animals as a young child. Cats, dogs, horses, and a very sweet and squeaky little guinea pig were all defining fixtures in my life. They brought me such joy and I always thought I would become a vet so I could work with furry critters. Unfortunately — or fortunately, really — I was not built with a scientific mind. My entire family is made up of artists so it’s no surprise that’s what I’m good at, too.

Inspired by my photographer aunt, I took my first photography course in high school. I found it to be a true passion and loved getting lost in my work in the darkroom. The funny thing was, even back then, animals were always my subjects! A very fluffy cat named Señor Gato was my main model — often posing in cowboy hats, on stools, or wrapped in feather boas — in exchange for Velveeta cheese. I was a pet photographer and didn’t even know it!

I studied graphic design and photography in college, graduating with a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication. I started down the career path of being a graphic designer while simply keeping my photography as a hobby. After working at a small marketing agency, print shop, and a corporate job but never quite feeling fulfilled, I realized my life was meant to be one of an entrepreneur.

With one steady client and a dream, I quit my job and said to myself, “well, I have to make this work somehow!” What was I thinking?! Honestly, I was young and naive with zero concept of failure; I just felt it was my path. It was going to work because it had to.

In the beginning, my business was mostly graphic design with a little bit of portraiture and corporate photography sprinkled in. When we adopted our pup, Roxy, I began taking photos of her and my whole business (and life) shifted. It was like a lightbulb turned on as my passion for working with animals was reawakened. Finding that again brought extreme meaning to my life. From the bottom of my heart, I feel I am here to work with animals and their families to tell their stories, create memories, and bring some joy into the world. With my graphic design and commercial side, I also feel strongly passionate about working with businesses who are making a positive impact in the world (whether in the animal space or not).

One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is getting to decide where I work and when. I love the outdoors, travel, and being off-the-grid. Earlier this year, I traveled to Sequoia National Forest to hike and photograph the redwoods. In May, I got to travel to the incredible town of Breckenridge, CO to teach a workshop to aspiring pet photographers from the US, Canada, and the UK. And at every opportunity, I go up to our ranch that’s nestled in the mountains of East County and spend days away from the hustle and bustle of city (er, suburbia) life with the dogs, horses, and wildlife.

Great, 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?
Nothing in life is easy and that’s OK; it’s the adventure and struggles that make us all who we are. Being an entrepreneur is an amazing journey and one I wouldn’t trade for the world!

I thought my career was going to be all about taking photos and creating beautiful designs but it turns out, that’s only a small fraction of it. Learning how to be a content writer, social media manager, website developer, financial planner, CEO, account manager, sales tax expert — the list goes on — were all huge learning curves for me. I’m grateful to be able to hire out a good chunk of those things now but I wasn’t always able to in the beginning. I jumped head-first into the deep end of entrepreneurship and learned how to swim on the way up. It hasn’t always been easy but it has always been exciting!

Please tell us about Westway Studio.
Westway Studio is a pet photography and graphic design house founded in 2006. I work with private families and commercial clients of all sizes to tell their stories through natural, colorful, and emotional artwork. I love getting to know my clients on a personal level and finding out what makes each of them unique. Everyone has a different story to tell and I find it an absolute honor to be given the opportunity to show a little glimpse into those stories through my photography and design.

Westway Studio is most-known for modern-rustic, luxury pet portrait adventures. I’m wildly inspired by tree-covered dirt paths, old wooden fences, and tall grasses set ablaze by the setting sun. When I get a family and their dogs or horses in a country setting like that, magic happens.

Westway’s most unique offering is the ultra-exclusive Skye Valley Ranch Experience, a weekend getaway to our 800+ acre private ranch in East County, complete with off-roading fun, portraits of pet parents and their dogs, a chuckwagon dinner cooked over oak wood from the property, s’mores, camping under the stars, and a timeless collection of heirloom artwork. It’s a bucket-list experience only for the most adventurous pet parents!

I’m most proud of the volunteer work I do and the ways in which I’m able use my art to help raise funds and awareness for my favorite non-profits. I volunteer with Lionel’s Legacy Senior Dog Rescue (lionelslegacy.org) by photographing their adoptable pups to help them find homes and by designing a calendar with my photos every year that helps raise thousands of dollars through page sponsorships and sales. I also work with the California Wolf Center (californiawolfcenter.org) by going inside the enclosures to photograph their wolves, then creating artwork for their event auctions and gift shop. My life’s mission is to put a little good back into the world and it’s amazing that I can do it through something I’m so passionate about: art and animals!

Fun fact: I’m also the co-founder of Professional Pooch (professionalpooch.com), an online educational resource for aspiring pet photographers. Sharing my knowledge of the craft with others looking to break into the industry is another way to do good; when one of us succeeds, we all succeed! And when we all succeed, we are bringing happiness to others and making the world a better, more joyful place.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
As a child, summer vacations were always my favorite because I was able to spend every waking moment at the barn with my big, bay Quarter Horse, Handsome. We would go for long rides, I would spend hours grooming him as he fell asleep while I braided his tail over and over again, or I’d turn him out in the grass-filled pasture and sit against the fence as he grazed happily nearby.

Handsome and I shared a deep bond that I never knew could be shared between species. We understood each other in a way that’s impossible to describe; we trusted each other from the very depths of our souls. I was incredibly lucky to have that kind of life-changing relationship while I was so young. After all, it set me on the path of dedicating my life to the animals.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Greg Bostrom
Terran Bayer

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