We had the good fortune of connecting with Tori Brawner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tori, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Entrepreneurship goes back at least three generations that I’m aware of. My dad, grandfather and great grandfather were all entrepreneurs. We all wanted to make something special, create, and provide something amazing for others to enjoy. I started working for my dads antique refurbishing shop; Brawner Restoration, when i was 7 years old. A business that my grandfather started, with knowledge that was passed down from my great grandfather. They were all extraordinary creators, and where my passion didn’t fall in the same category as theirs, photography called to me. It’s the thing that makes my soul sing and it gives me comfort that i am following in my families footsteps of being a creator and business owner
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I first picked up a camera when I was around 17 years old. My parents noticed how frequently I took photos of any and everything with my phone and bought me a little kit camera for Christmas. A whole new world opened up for me after that day.
When I first started photography I started taking pictures of nature. About 6 months into having my camera my best friend asked if i would take her senior pictures. I was nervous but excited.
Taking pictures of people was a whole new adventure and it truly led to something amazing.
After taking those senior pictures, seeing how happy, confident and beautiful those photos made my best friend feel, I knew I had found something that gave me a purpose. Something I would want to do the rest of my life. Something that would never actually feel like work.
Of course I wasn’t the best at my craft when I first started at 17, but it didn’t stop me one bit.
Countless hours spent on YouTube for the first year learning everything imaginable about cameras how to pose people, how to edit and the list goes on and on!
I started actually charging for sessions after about 6 months, it wasn’t much but it was something.
I finally had enough money after a year of charging for sessions to buy a REAL camera. Something I could go pro with. That camera boosted my confidence in the business and increased the quality of my images and after that Miss Lynell Photography was born.
I knew nothing how to properly run a business. Doing taxes was a foreign language and proper business management was a world I had never visited. It was all a learning curve. A lot of time, a lot patience and a lot of mental breakdowns… and I finally got the hang of it.
Investing in a business coach was definitely one of the best decisions I made. It helped me grow so quick and saved me from making a lot of mistakes.
Something I learned throughout the journey of being a business owner is that you CAN do it on your own, but you don’t HAVE to. I wanted to be stubborn, I wanted to do it on my own, but once i realized it was okay to have some guidance and have someone help me along the way who knew better than I did.
I try to incorporate as much self love into my brand as possible and its hard to do that if you don’t show some self love to yourself! Running a business makes it hard to put yourself as priority, but no matter what you do in life there will always be excuses to put yourself last. It’s about learning to love yourself no matter how busy, no matter how low you get or whatever might be going on.
My brand, Miss Lynell Photography is about helping people learn that. And so much more.
Everyone is always going through something, and no matter what it is I want to be there for my clients to show the they are not alone, and that they can take a couple hours to themselves to get all dressed up and take photos with their family, by themselves whether for a special occasion or for no occasion at all.
I want to just be there for people. Be a friend, and show others what the are worth. Show them how beautiful they are.
Photography has helped me in so many ways and has shown me a passion for meeting other human beings, and capturing amazing photos in the process. Creating moments and memories. It’s truly a beautiful thing I get to call my job.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I were to spend a week in the city with my bestie, We would most definitely stay at one of the many amazing Airbnb options Houston has. We would check out The Rustic and listen to some great live music while drinking some amazing cocktails and appetizers! Some other amazing grub spots are The Hobbit Cafe, Bella Green, and House of Pies! I would also take her to the Houston Zoo and Aquarium since we are all about the cute animals always!! We’d visit my favorite shop Whole Earth Provisions Company. We would also go around some of the beautiful walking trails Houston has to offer. There are so many places to get a taste of the great outdoors in this big City!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so thankful to have had a family that loves and supports me so well! No matter what the endeavor, they have been my rock. Being a photographer or any kind of artist mind you, has the social stigma of not being a “good enough” career choice. My family knows better than that. Whatever you love doing, as long as you put enough work into it and especially if it has a good cause behind it, is the perfect career choice for YOU! I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Tori Brawner- Miss Lynell Photography