We caught up with the talented and insightful Tracee Gadson a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Tracee, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. We’d love to hear the backstory behind a risk you’ve taken – whether big or small, walk us through what it was like and how it ultimately turned out.
Before moving to Columbia, SC and deciding to really pursue my photography business, I worked full-time as a graphic designer and photography assistant in Charleston, SC. I’d been in that position for five years until the economy crashed in 2008. The photographer that I’d worked for at the time had actually taken another job outside of photography and left me to run the studio. I went from working full-time to only working from home two days a week. Eventually, the photographer decided to close the studio and I was laid off. By that time I was completely broke and was forced to break the lease on my apartment and move back home with my mom. After a few months of searching for a job in my field, I prayed about it and decided it was time to take a risk and step out on faith, in hopes of finding a new career and to deepen my walk with God. So, I moved to Columbia in 2010 with no job and no place to live. A friend that I knew from church let me stay with her for a month and a half, during the summer and two weeks before I was supposed to move out God blessed me with a job and a new place to call home. Moving to Columbia turned out to be a real blessing, because shortly after I was able to have my photography work displayed in a local coffee shop for the first time ever and my photography business grew as well.
Tracee, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Of course! My name is Tracee Gadson and I’m a couples and portrait photographer. I’ve always had a love for visual arts but I had no idea that photography would become my greatest passion. I’d never even considered it as something I was interested in, but I ended up going to college for graphic design and photography was one of my electives. One day a friend of the family gave me an older professional camera. I remember thinking, maybe I can help photograph my friend’s wedding since I know her photographer. I had no idea where that thought came from. Looking back, I really believe it was God calling me to what I was really meant to do. I took my friend out for a test shoot, and my very first real photo shoot to make sure the camera actually worked. I was so surprised at how well the pictures came out and the emotion that showed in the images. After I helped photograph her wedding, I began doing engagement sessions and weddings for friends at church. Later, I spent five years working at a professional studio as a graphic designer and photography assistant. Eventually the photographer would send me out to shoot weddings on my own.
After exploring many different types of photography I’ve recently discovered that photographing couples in every stage of their relationship is what brings me the most joy and inspires the most creativity. So, I am currently re-branding myself as a natural light couples photographer for fun, adventurous couples. I offer boho inspired sessions and my services include micro-weddings, elopements, and lifestyle photography. I also offer styled anniversary sessions where I help plan every beautiful detail, because I believe love is a journey that continues on even after a couple gets married. Couples that come to me for sessions can trust that I will capture their authentic selves and the genuine love that they have for one another. My creative vision, my background in visual arts, and the way I see love are what sets me apart from others. I can develop an entire session styling vision, starting with just a color or outfit and build from there, keeping my couple’s personality and love story in mind.
Is there a mission driving your creative journey?
Exodus 35:31-35 has always been such a powerful creative motivation for me. It talks about how the Spirit of God fills a person with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts to make artistic designs as a master craftsman. Along with photography, I also have skills in drawing, oil painting, embroidery, greeting card design and writing. I believe that each one of these skills is a talent/gift that I was meant to share with others. Photography became the ultimate expression of creativity that I am most passionate about. I love the emotion that can be felt in just a single photograph. Sometimes when my photography business starts to feel a bit too challenging I ask myself why do I still want to do this. I recently had this thought, but then the father of a woman who modeled for a creative project reached out to me. He’d seen the pictures that I’d taken of his daughter and told me that I had an amazing gift from God! That alone is the mission driving my journey, that I have to (as in I can’t imagine doing anything else) and I want to use my gifts to honor God and maybe someone’s life will be touched in the process.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being creative?
For me, one of the most rewarding parts about being an artist and creative is starting out with a vision in my mind and watching that vision completely come to life in the finished piece. There’s nothing like seeing a photography session concept turn out exactly how I imagined it down to the colors that brought everything together.