Let’s learn how Certified Photo Manager Gaylotta Murray went from creating presentations for her church to starting a new career as a Photo Manager. 

In her previous career, Gaylotta Murray worked for the United Way, a nonprofit organization for over 16 years. She loves working with and helping people. While there, she found herself often using PowerPoint presentations. As a visual learner, it was the perfect way to convey information. 

When Gaylotta was asked to teach a Sunday school class at her church, PowerPoint presentations were a way to keep her class of young adults engaged. With her class growing, the church asked Gaylotta to do more visual media including video. When a friend’s daughter passed away, she asked Gaylotta to prepare a memorial slideshow and encouraged her to consider making this a business.


How long have you been a member of The Photo Managers?


I consider joining The Photo Managers as the moment I really got serious about my business. I’m now in my third or fourth year. When I joined the photo managers, I got a much bigger perspective and understanding of what this business was all about, and really began to stop making it a hobby where I got paid occasionally, and start making it a business.


What advice would you give to somebody starting just out?


You have to love, design, color, putting things together, storytelling, and most of all people. You’re going to get all kinds of people that are in different kinds of situations that are going to come to you and ask you to put something together. It helps to be an organized person, and this business will move you in that direction, if you’re not already there. You also need to be open to discipline and being organized and making your projects come together. But I think a love for design and color and, and storytelling is important.


What is your market niche as a Photo Manager and what services do you offer?


Photo books and video slideshows. I am also a Forever Ambassador. I use Forever as a major platform for making my photo books. 

To some degree, digital organizing is also a part of what I do because I may offer a client  media conversion or online storage services. I always tell people that when you decide to do a photo book,  that’s a form of digital photo organizing, because you begin to bring together all the photos that are special to you for that particular project. And you get the benefit of having them digitized, and then having them organized, around that.

I recently did a photo book for a church member who had never had any of her photos digitized. She gave me well over 300 printed photos that I had to sit and go through. And I learned so much from that particular project that I had not put into place. I also learned I don’t like scanning. So I’m not big on scanning. If I have to, I will, but I it’s not not one of my favorite things.


How have you found your clients?


Well, it started out with church. I got a few clients through church, and then it has been through word of mouth. The majority of the clients that I have, if not all of them have been because they know someone else knows me. I also have a funeral home that I work with. And from time to time, they will pass on a job to me.


What do you love most about your work as a photo manager?


I really love creating. And as much anxiety as it gives me, I love the challenge of creating. So I can really get stuck on when I’m trying to make pieces come together and they’re not coming together. If I’m working in a tool that’s just not cooperating with me, I will stay with it and stay at it until I finally get it to work and get it done.


What aspects of being a Photo Manager do you like the least?


I’m working in a very digital based profession. And that can be probably the most frustrating thing about it. Because everything you do is based on this laptop. If I was to lose his laptop in front of me, if it was to shut down, I’m in really bad shape. And when it doesn’t cooperate with me when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, I am freaked out. I’m learning to try and be patient about it. But it’s the unexpected electronic or digital kinds of things that come up, that just don’t work when you want them to work. When that happens, I take a deep breath, call whoever I  need to call, and get responses to help me work it through.


What skills from your past work experience or life experiences have helped you in being a business owner?


I’ve always been creative. I love decorating my house, I love clothes. And for a long time, I made my own clothes. And so in doing that, I had to be able to put stuff together according to where it goes and the pattern, and I had to line things up. And I had to be precise in that. I think that skill has stayed with me because when I’m putting together a photo book, or if I’m working on an image or something, I’m really particular about how it lines up. Is it in the middle? Is it here? I’m really thinking about that and I think that carries over from laying out patterns and cutting things out.


What’s it like when you deliver a final project to a client?


It is nerve racking and fully satisfying at the same time, particularly if they’re pleased. She heard me talk about what I do at a networking group and wanted to have her parents’ wedding album digitized and made into a photo book. With every client, you get better and better. Because if you push yourself, if you’re open, you’ll step out and find something a little different that you might want to add to whatever it is you’re doing, that opens up a whole lot of other doors. She was very pleased with the end result. Whenever I show my clients their project, I go through the album in a Zoom meeting, page by page. She just kept saying, “Oh, I love that! Oh, that is so wonderful!” with each and every page. And that is probably just the greatest feeling that you can get that they’re satisfied.


How has being a member of The Photo Managers been helpful to you?


Oh, my gosh, it has been so helpful. I’ve never been to an in-person Photo Managers conference. I’m not able to do it in person, but I’m able to participate virtually, and I have loved it. I have met different people and I have been able to commiserate and celebrate and do all of those things with people of like mind. And everyone is so open and so generous with their experience and what they’re willing to do to help you out. And I just really love it! 

What I will say, as a new person is don’t waste your time joining a whole lot of other networking groups, I didn’t know that. So I was paying to join several networking groups before I realized that I don’t need those other groups. The Photo Managers is the only group that I really need, because I’m getting everything in one package. In another group, I might get one little something, one level of exposure, one level of experience, but in The Photo Managers you get so much, and it’s all related to what you’re doing. It’s all related to your business, and to making you a better, better business person, a better photo manager. 


Watch the full video to hear Gaylotta answer questions from the audience about starting a new business as Photo Manager.