We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffany McKinley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tiffany, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Owning a small business is stressful and challenging, especially when you give up your lifelong career to pursue it. Your world is suddenly focused on ‘what ifs’ and ‘just in cases’.

I think the giving up thoughts cross all small business owners minds, especially in the beginning when things haven’t really picked up or aren’t yet steady.

I, personally, stand by the old cliche ‘if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’…and here we are. I love this. I love being creative and I love creating something that people will cherish for their entire lives. I mean, how cool is it that photos I have created hang on walls across the US? Seriously, so rad.

So, my advice…hate is heavy, if you hate it…let it go. Hard work isn’t hate, don’t be confused. Hate is when you literally have no drive or motivation left to do the thing. As artists, we all get into little ruts, but I think that’s different. When you find your passions going in a different direction, follow them. Life is entirely too short to waste years doing something that brings you down.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My proudest moment was having my personal project published in a world wide magazine with a front cover shout out. Who would have thought ‘selfies’ would be so big?

Aside from portrait photography, I also photograph abandoned spaces as a hobby. The selfie project came about during a very low dip in my mental health.

I felt that if I could find the beauty in abandoned and destroyed shells of what once was, then maybe I could find that within myself, too.

I have photographed these broken buildings for years, and within the last few, I finally started doing what I affectionately call ‘Next Level Selfies’. They were never intended to make it to the internet. They truly were solely for me and finding myself and who I am. We all have our demons and we struggle with them regularly, often daily. This project became how I challenged mine head on.

Each image is taken via a timer, most with a tripod, and as comical as it is…I literally set the timer and run! They are 100% “selfies.” I chose “next level” because not only do they require more than average skill, they also are deeper than that for me. This wasn’t about me obsessed with my own appearance, but more so the opposite. This was, and still is, me finding myself and going headfirst into battle with emotions and thoughts I was experiencing at each time in my life when the photo was taken.

Each image in the series is titled with a beautiful, yet rare, carefully chosen word. Where the word tells the story, the image illustrates it. While many are dark and haunting, a few are pure and loving. I can say, with all honesty, each one is raw and provoking.

So much thought went into these images. It was so personal, it was mind blowing to have been asked to publish them. So cathartic.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a home body through and through. I really enjoy walking and seeing things. There’s probably a better way to phrase that. Ha. But, really…walking the beach in Galveston when no one else is there, walking through the streets of downtown after the work day has winded down, walking through the forests in Montgomery and Conroe before a storm…I really could go on and on. Best part? Nature is free and so good for the soul.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Growing up, my friends and I would travel around our neighborhood doing ‘photoshoots’ with my little 35mm camera. Then, we’d wait the week or so to get the film back and go over our photos. I think that’s when it started. That’s when it became a hobby and a passion.

I was always the one with the camera. As the years went on, the more people who saw my photography, the more they said ‘you really get this’ or ‘you really have an eye for photography’. I’m my own worst critic, we all are, right? It wasn’t until 2010 that I had my first paid job. I think if I had to give credit, I couldn’t narrow it down to one person. So many people had an impact over the years, some big and some small.

I’d thank Doug Burrell (Texas Grace Photography) for all those years of working together and letting me play around with Photoshop his on his personal work to learn the ins and outs. I’d thank Megan McCarty (Megan McCarty Photography) for more recently pushing me to strive for better and improve my craft and business for success. Thanks especially for all of the people who have stood in front of my lens and been guinea pigs or clients, you guys, without a doubt, make this whole thing work.

Website: www.tiffanymckinley.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tiffanymckinleyphotography

Other: www.etsy.com/shop/tiffanymckinleyphoto

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