Written by: Tammy Deren – Smiley Eyes Photography – The Photographer Studio
For me, life is nothing without passion. Each click of the shutter and every photo I take is designed to tease out the passion of my subjects. Sometimes it’s professional headshot of a new lawyer and in their eyes I see a desire to change world. Other times it’s a bride and groom with a serene stillness around them despite the busy wedding day – the stillness that comes from knowing you have found someone that touches your soul. In the same way a sculpture sees the story in a block of wood, I see the emotions behind each photo. I coax them forward and capture them with my lens.
My name is Tammy Deren. I picked up my first camera when I was six years old, a Kodak Instamatic with 110 film! I took rolls and rolls of photos with that camera and I just never stopped shooting. Four kids, two thriving businesses, and husband later, I’m still clicking away.
I find inspiration everywhere and whether or not my camera is in my hand, I see the world through the eye of a photographer. A rainy day with fat droplets splashing onto a hot sidewalk, a meandering stream running past a campsite, bare feet sinking into flip flops – even the smallest moments inspire me.
Real passion cannot be contained – I decided to go official with my life’s purpose in 2006 and hung out my shingle: Smiley Eyes Photography.
I believe in giving back. Since not every photographer has the opportunity to work from their own fully stocked studio with lights, props and backgrounds, I opened my second business: The Photographer Studio.
This venture rents out three studios, two on the west side and one west central. The studios give aspiring photographers access to everything they need to create and share their beautiful art. The studios can also be rented as creative collaborative spaces for meetings, product launches, parties and events.
Being an entrepreneur is serious business, and ladies, you know with kids, a household and a career, it’s not easy to manage it all. I’ve been so fortunate to have a great support system, a strong work ethic, and wonderful clients that helped me to quickly build up the business. Today, I shoot in my three studio locations, on site at weddings and events, for magazine editorials, and even destination weddings. My work has appeared on the cover of Blush magazine and I’ve grown The Photographer Studio from one location to three fully stocked, bright and beautiful, in-demand studios. It’s hard work, but very rewarding.
Sometimes people ask how I do it – even I wonder some days! Taking photos is a very personal business, especially for families and weddings. My vision isn’t always what the client had in mind. I could spend time second guessing my work or wondering if my studios are good enough, but the trick is to just keep going. My list of happy clients far outweighs the few complaints. When I do have someone that isn’t happy, I do my best to fix it. I take it all as constructive feedback, try to make it right, and move on.
My advice for new boss babes is to determine if problematic issues were caused from an inefficiency within your business. If so, fix it so it doesn’t happen again.
My other piece of advice is set business hours and stick to them. It’s so tempting to answer every call and email even if it’s 9 PM, but that work/life balance is absolutely critical. Delegate, let your family help with the chores and household duties, and schedule time away from work. Remember, you can’t be productive or present for your clients, friends and family if you burn out.
When people meet me, they see a happy, upbeat, socially active girl that loves to smile, dance and laugh. That’s truly me, but I didn’t start out this way. Every day I work hard on my personal and professional growth. My life has had many ups and downs and I’ve had to overcome traumas that could have sent me in a much darker direction. I’ve learned that life is truly what you make of it. Sink or swim, walk or fly – that’s a choice I have to make every day. I choose to spread my wings and fly, and uplift as many people as I can along the way.