Outside of my husband and my Oak Street Social partner, Hallie was the first person to believe in our cause and support our tiny start up business that has now become what it is today. I remember the phone call as I sat in my partner's house working on big picture stuff. We didn't know each other but I admired her work. On a whim, I emailed her asking for a call. I needed raw and real talent to help us create a vision and the actual product for our social media strategy. Photography is such a GIANT and important piece of our deliverable.
Anyway, what I really needed was someone willing to put some skin in the game and fully support our initiative - both financially and creatively. Hallie was our girl. She didn't hesitate...she said would give it a shot. My only promise to her was to book her as much as humanly possible for anyone and everyone we work with. 2.5 years later...it's still the case. Not only is Hallie a trusted peer but she is my friend. After working with this stranger personally and professionally for almost three years, I couldn't be more grateful and proud of the work she has created and the unwavering support she blindly gave us that one day in August.
I talk to Hallie as much as my parents. She is patient. She is kind. She is funny. She is empathetic...a real girl's girl. She is also strong. You could vent to her and she will politely nod her head and agree and sometimes, just sometimes, I think she might think I'm crazy! With respect to her talent...I suppose it's her job but really, no. I've worked with almost 10 photographers to date for our business and Hallie is different. She finds the beauty in the grit, the innocent, the colorful and the simplest of spaces. She almost never tells you that something can't be done. Instead, she'll try and often our attitude will be one of "we will see what we see." It's provided some comic relief as well!
I'm proud to call her my friend but I am even more proud to share today's interview. Little does she realize that her unwavering support has been her greatest gift of all which you cannot put a price tag on. Meet Hallie!
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the creative industry?
I’ve been shooting since high school, but my path to photography as a career wasn’t a straight one. After a few internships in PR and event planning in/after college, I learned pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me. My passions have always been in art, namely photography and music. But I don’t think I ever thought, hey, I’d love to run my own business. It is HARD. It’s really out of necessity in order to do what I love.
2. What was the most difficult moment in launching your brand? How did you get through it?
I think the biggest challenge was spending years shooting content that I didn’t love and wasn’t creatively challenged by, in order to support myself financially and get my name out there. I’m incredibly grateful to have a very strong support system of family and friends who were so ready to promote my photography to literally everyone they knew. They always have (and still do) support me and my work in so many ways.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
If it’s not a shooting day and I have no meetings, I’ll get up by 8:30, turn on music and make a cup of tea with lemon. Then I’ll settle into work pretty immediately. I spend most of the day editing, emailing, drinking coffee - in sweatpants ; ) Late afternoon I’ll get my workout in and then come back to either edit for the night (balance? what balance..), meet up with girlfriends, or catch up on some of my DVR. I also love to co-work with friends whenever possible, it makes the tedious tasks much more fun! If it’s a shooting day, any “routine” is out the window! I’m so much more fulfilled and happy when I can create and collaborate rather than sit in front of my computer.
4. What’s one thing you learned about yourself in becoming an entrepreneur?
I am not an organized person. That is something I’ve struggled with forever and it’s just part of who I am. But in running a business, I literally have no choice. I’ve learned I CAN be more organized and focused, though it’s still something that I wish I were better at!
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
Jeremy Cowart is freaking amazing. He seamlessly combines fashion, music, and humanitarian photography into one career. Basically-life goals. AND he has a kick ass family. His work is so creatively inspiring to me.
I honestly don’t draw much inspiration from celebs. But the real women in my life? The women who have amazing careers, have babies, make beautiful art, and literally do it all? They inspire the sh*t out of me.
6. If you weren't in the creative industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
I think I would have a hard time thriving anywhere else and also being happy, but I would definitely want to do humanitarian work. I’ve always struggled internally with choosing a creative career rather than one that directly benefits those who so badly need aid, so I think that’s all I could see myself doing.
7. What's on your Spotify?
Oh hot damn. I have spotify on literally all day, so...a lot. But short answer- right NOW I’m listening the most to: Betty Who, Chance the Rapper (duh), Kevin Garrett, Francis and the Lights, Jack Garratt, Years & Years, and Lizzo.
8. What’s your vice? Everyone has one...wine, chocolate, This is Us?
This is so lame, but can I say naps? God I love naps. But also...Pretty Little Liars. Whatever. I love it, and I sucked my mom into watching it with me too.
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
I love both, so I could really go either way! But hard pressed, I would choose wine.
10. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
That’s a tough one, but I think over the years one of my favorite quotes has driven me the most to stay true to my own vision rather than bend to what’s trendy in the industry- “ A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
11. 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
The Weather Channel (I need to know the weather by the hour for shoots!), VSCO, Instagram, DuoLingo, Spotify.
12. Bonus question - What's next for Hallie Duesenberg Photography?
Hah, if only I knew! Hopefully lots more work travel, fashion, and splitting more of my work between Chicago and LA.
Follow Hallie on Instagram!