We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Ramsey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I was a full-time bartender for almost 12 years. During that time, I started my photography business and occasionally acquired paying work. I didn’t put much effort into growing the business because I was fairly complacent bartending. However, I slowly began to loathe bartending. I needed an exit strategy and photography was it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to run a business. After a solid 6 years of half-hearted effort, my dream seemed impossible.
In 2019 I was fired from my long-term bartending position. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I had just split up with my partner of 7 years and moved out on my own. I was also dealing with health issues and my hospital bills were piling up. The most logical thing would have been for me to find another job at a bar. Spoiler alert… that’s not what I did!
After my termination I began Uber driving. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to earn a comparable income, but it was something I could easily fall into. I felt that I would finally give my photography business the attention it needed if I put myself in an uncomfortable position. In the meantime, I created a YouTube channel to document my experience as an Uber driver.
Fast forward to the pandemic. I’m sure you can imagine that I was incredibly grateful to no longer be in the service industry. I became a personal grocery shopper with Instacart during quarantine. I began trying other gigs and sharing my journey on YouTube. Many people were looking for extra work to help them get by and I had the answers on my YouTube channel. My channel took off and it became its own business. Almost all the gigs had large referral bonuses because of the pandemic, I also received brand deals, affiliate links, and earned income from the ads on my videos. My little project turned into something pretty major!
Through all of this I was educating myself and implementing new strategies with my photography business. One of my ideas was to market mountain photoshoots to tourists. I played around with this in 2019 after I was fired, but my advertisements didn’t receive much attention. Once we came out of quarantine, and people began travelling, I found myself in the exact right place. My mountain photoshoots were a safe activity that could be done outdoors while socially distanced. My little photography business finally started growing and it hasn’t stopped growing since!
We currently have three photographers, an editor, and are looking to add administrative help. Our bookings increase every month. I’m shocked and beyond grateful. I’m so glad I didn’t play it safe and get another bartending position. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now if I did.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I would like to think my work has come pretty far in the 10 years that I’ve been behind the camera. I feel most accomplished when I compare my current photography to my past work. Growth comes naturally when you continuously practice. There are certainly thousands of talented portrait photographers in Colorado. However, it’s easy for good work to go unnoticed if you don’t put a substantial amount of effort into building a business.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would go to lookout mountain in Golden. Visiting close to sunset is a must! The drive up the mountain is kind of scary to people who aren’t familiar with it. The top of lookout mountain has incredible 360 views of the mountains and the city lights of Denver. There are pull offs along the road that remind me of someplace you would see kids make-out in a movie. If we wanted to get a little deeper in the mountains I would take them to Steamboat Springs and visit Strawberry Park because it’s the most incredible natural hot springs I’ve ever seen. We may even tube down the river in Steamboat. Finally, we would have to eat in Denver at the super vibey restaurant Linger. Afterwards, we would definitely grab ice cream at Little Man and walk around the Highlands neighborhood.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My current partner, Hooman Abbasi, has been incredibly supportive of everything I do. Some of the steps I’ve taken are not the most convincing paths to success. He has inspired me with his unapologetic nature and his own whimsical dreams. His energy is exactly what I needed to pull this off.
He has two YouTube channels! – Stegawow & Homie Soul