We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Stratso and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I love this question because it’s actually quite simple – I embraced my style, and started doing things differently. As a photographer in Hawaii, I’m in an extremely saturated industry. It is the place to be as a wedding photographer. I used to try to blend in, do what everyone else was doing, or emulate what I saw successful photographers doing. Then I learned that I was doing myself and my clients a disservice, and I started being myself. I started putting my personality on my Instagram and on my website, and I marketed what made me different instead of trying to hide it. As a business coach for photographers, I always tell my clients: You are the only one who can do what you can do, and your dream clients are out there searching for you. Anyone can shoot at the same locations or edit with the same preset, but only you can provide your personality and personal touch. It is the number 1 way to stand out, and eliminate any competition! This idea is also the foundation of my coaching program called The Game Changer Academy. I teach photographers how to dive deep into who they are, what makes them different, and how they can use that to connect and market to their dream clients.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a traveling adventurous elopement/couples photographer based on the island of Oahu, Hawaii! I love natural vibrant colors, epic wide shots, and capturing fun, candid in between moments with my couples. Life hasn’t always been full of rainbows and island hopping. I grew up in the small town of Pilot Point, Texas, and for most of my young life I suffered from crippling anxiety. I had huge ambitions like traveling the world and owning my own business, and I could only go so far with my anxiety. I worked hard in college to overcome it by attending therapy, always making myself get out of my comfort zone, and learning how to be confident in myself and my work. After graduating from UNT with a degree in photojournalism, I moved to California to pursue motocross photography. That was a job I kind of fell into, so I followed my heart and left the industry to live in Hawaii. My photography career took off when I realized how much I love adventuring for couples photography!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My Texas home base is in Corpus Christi! My favorite things to do are walking along Ocean Drive in the morning, grabbing a latte at Coffee Waves, checking out the Selena statue (and the museum if you have time), and getting dinner and a marg from La Playa. The Diabla Fajitas will melt your face off. If you ever find yourself traveling to Oahu, you have to check out the views from the Crouching Lion Hike, spend the day at the north shore beaches (Waimea Bay and Sunset are the must sees!), take a surfing lesson in Waikiki, and grab dinner and a Mai Tai from Lei Lei’s near the Turtle Bay Resort.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe all of my love of adventure and risk taking to my parents. They instilled the belief in me that it isn’t just a good thing to go against the norms, but that going against what is popular in pursuit of your true passion is the key to happiness. They have always supported my “crazy” ideas, like pursing photography full-time, up and moving my business to Hawaii, and transitioning to be a nationwide photography business. And of course they always have a warm bed for me when I’m passing through town. I can’t thank them enough for all of their love and support!