Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabi Gonzalez.
Hi Gabi, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’ve always been creative; it is the one thing that I’ve been good at since I can remember. I moved a lot as a kid, going back and forth from my home country, Brazil, to the United States. I think drawing and creating kept me grounded. I went to a liberal arts program at East Carolina University and majored in Graphic Design. I loved the program because it gave me a well-rounded creative experience – allowing me to take classes in drawing, painting, printing, and photography. I feel that this background taught me the basics in great composition, color theory, and communication design.
I moved to Cincinnati to work for Procter & Gamble when I was 23 and found the corporate world to be very rigorous. So, I looked for a creative outlet and photography was it! I began taking portraits when my niece was born to document her growth. She and I have always had a very strong connection. From there, I opened my business with my husband, Jeremy, who is also a graphic designer and photographer. We started doing photojournalistic photography for families, friends, kids, and weddings. We LOVED IT! We originally met at work and knew we worked well together. We really make a great team!
Fast forward a few years later, and we had two kids under 2, (yes, they are very close in age – 13 months apart!), and my career was taking off in corporate America. I had to make the hard decision to stop the photography business and focus on the kids and work. We moved to Michigan for a job opportunity and moved around a bit after that. We always kept documenting our own journey and life through photography – that never stopped.
When the pandemic hit, we were in the middle of moving back to Cincinnati. Our son is autistic so we chose to move to Blue Ash because we knew the school district has amazing support for children with special needs. At the time I was back working at P&G and I was not happy – miserable would describe it best! After a 4-month journey of reflecting on what I really wanted to do, I realized that doing photography and owning my own business was the time that I was the happiest. At 41 years old I figured it was now or never!
My husband and I talked it over and decided I should be the face of Gabi G Photography and he would play a support role as operational manager, partner, and second shooter when needed. We’ve been working hard for the last few months to get our network back up and running and get the business functional again. We’re even looking at studio spaces to allow us to host clients and events – currently we are considering an old house from the 1930s… My vision is to host community creative outreach events for the area with a focus on individuals with disabilities, and to drive arts awareness with youth in the Blue Ash and Cincinnati communities, eventually. We are excited to grow deep roots in the area and make this our forever home! Cincinnati has so much to offer and we want to help that grow and continue.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has not been smooth! But that’s what keeps it interesting. There have been a few challenges along the way:
1) The internal journey of conflicting priorities. By that, I mean becoming a mother and being the main provider financially to my family meant that I had to put my dream on the back burner for a long time.
2) Finding out we had a son with autism meant that I had to take the focus off what I wanted to do and put the focus on the kids, creating a stable environment for my family – there were a lot of self-sacrifices that were required. This meant staying in the corporate environment for longer than I wanted. As a creative that can be really hard!
3) Starting up a network, again! When we did this the first time, social media was just taking off and it was a lot simpler. You would tag someone, they would show up in friends’ feeds and those friends would contact you. Now it is more complicated. We are figuring it all out!
4) I’m still a working mom! Being a mom is the most rewarding thing, but let’s face it, it’s hard! Being a mom of a child with a disability is even harder. Sometimes you have to stop your creative flow and just go take care of others. It’s a constant juggling act.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I recently heard a podcast on NPR’s LifeKit that talked about how we overly define ourselves by our careers. This really hit home for me and helped me redefine myself. After over 15 years in corporate America, I realized that I put too much value in what I did vs. who I am.
So, I now define myself as a creative person. I love the creative process and the introspection it gives me. I have always been someone who observes and listens, more introverted perhaps, although I don’t love that term because I’m not “shy” and I actually have a lot to say, ha! I think that passion and the ability to sit back and make observations and document how I see the world is what drew me to photography. It is also what sets my style apart from others. I really connect with clients and their personalities and can quickly capture that essence visually with my camera. We don’t try to overly stage our photos but instead enable clients to be their natural selves and capture that. I feel that our photos really reflect that and have a lot of soul that comes across in them.
I am most proud of being someone who doesn’t give up, who works hard, and thinks big! I’ve always had that drive to do something beyond myself and I am finally committed 100% to doing it. I am so thankful for how far I have come and how hard I worked to create an environment in which I can finally live my dream. I didn’t grow up with much, so every day I have to pinch myself and remind myself that I made this happen, it wasn’t luck – it was a lot of hard work.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Setting goals and accomplishing them, and when we don’t – asking “what did we learn?” Not all goals are achieved but there is always something to learn from that as well.
Creating an environment in which you can be yourself, truly yourself. And that is very hard to do in today’s world.
- Website: gabigphotography.com
- Instagram: gabi.g.photography.cincy
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gabigphoto
Gabi G Photography