Makers for Makers: Gretchen Powers Film & Photo
Gretchen and I just recently crossed paths but were instantly connected by our New England roots. She resides in Portland, Maine—a place that just might have the number one spot in my heart. It only seemed destined (in my opinion) that we should get chatting. After connecting and learning more about Gretchen, the honesty within her path was what truly drew me into her work. She's chosen as a photographer and videographer to find her own beautifully unique outlet telling people's true, authentic, down-to-earth stories. And—her own story fits right into that as well which makes me so excited to share Gretchen's Makers for Makers feature where she dives into business, day-to-day life as a maker, and how she got where she is today. I found her words refreshing and inspirational to read so I hope you do as well!
Tell us about Gretchen Powers Film & Photo.
I am a freelance photographer and filmmaker currently residing in Portland, Maine. I specialize in brand content creation whether that is lifestyle photos for social media content or a brand video that shows a consumer the who, what, where, why of a company. I also shoot weddings, couples and portraits and love how I am able to balance both within my business structure.
What made you realize you needed to bring this dream to reality?
I have had a lot of support over the years from family and friends who believed I was a gifted visual storyteller even before I realized it myself. My dad bought me my first video camera, and then DSLR really encouraging me to follow my passions. My moms both told me over and over again how gifted I was at capturing photographs, but as a kid, and young adult it's hard to believe every word your moms say as things are sometimes skewed through "mom goggles." It was friends of mine, Helen and Jake, who insisted I shoot their wedding after I gave them almost every excuse in the book not to hire me that really jump started my photography career. If it hadn't been for them I would still probably just be making films.
What are the core beliefs that drives your company?
I capture everything, whether a wedding, a brand video, an event, a portrait in a way that is simple, yet authentic to the person or company behind my lens. I love making pretty pictures and shooting videos that bring people and brands to life, but I really strive to do so in a way than emphasizes the little things, the smaller moments that may have been missed if I hadn't zoomed in a little closer.
What was your biggest obstacle when starting out?
I am not an inherently outgoing person—have I become one since I started my business? Yes. But starting out I was nervous about reaching out to other photographers and potential clients, nervous about speaking to people I had never met before and trying to get them to be comfortable in front of my camera. That, and not having a clue what to charge what I was worth. I guess I'm still learning that part.
Do you have any makers you admired that have inspired you?
I am constantly meeting new makers who inspire me or give me something new to think about in my work. I struggle so much with captions and love the way Greta Rybus (@gretarybus) is able to match photos with words to educate her viewers and enable them to truly understand the story behind her images. Jillian Lukiwski (@thenoisyplume) blows my mind the way she photographs herself—and despite her success is one of the most humble artists I know. Hilary Swift (@hlswift) is one of my oldest photographer friends and I love the way that as a photojournalist she continues to push to take the most unique, interesting, educational photos every time she goes out with her camera to cover the news.
What does your typical day as a Maker look like?
It always starts with tea. A cup of black tea, usually Earl Grey or chai, and breakfast. Food is crazy important to me, as it fuels my brain and keeps me motivated. When I can I like to give myself an hour in the morning to read, knit, take it slow while drinking tea and eating breakfast before getting after it. Then I spend the next few hours editing photos, video or whatever is on the schedule, LUNCH, then more knitting, editing, client meetings, shoots, I really try to exercise every day even if it's just taking my dog on a longer than usual walk. Getting outside and sweating is super important on days when I'm stuck in my little home office in front of the computer—leaves me feeling so lethargic! Other photographer's might gasp when they hear this, but I'm almost always off my computer before dinnertime. I'm most productive and creative during the hours when it's light outside and thus really don't like it when I have to work into the night—even in college I was rarely up past 10pm doing homework, but then again that might have had something to do with the rowing schedule I was on. Anyhow, that's what my days look like when I'm not out of town on a shoot or a project.
What do you love most about being a Maker?
I love that each day is different, that my schedule allows me to meet new people every week, go on mid-week adventures that inspire me, and that I get paid to do what I love—that's the obvious answer right? But really, being able to run around with a camera and capture peoples stories—whether of love or life—is a pretty neat thing to be accountable for by people and trusted by them to capture their story authentically.
What advice do you have for Makers just starting out?
Do not be afraid to reach out to the people who inspire you. Ask them to get a coffee and pick their brains. Go to networking events even if they may be boring. Say yes to some of the projects you really want to say no to. Connections are so important and you never know who you are going to meet when you go places outside of your usual routine.