Alli Elmunzer is a professional photographer at her studio Turquoise & Palm, and the founder and creative director of COLOR by Turquoise & Palm, a stock photography membership site for creative entrepreneurs. She shares a little of her story here…
Like many small business owners, my journey has been a winding one!
I went to college at the University of Miami on a soccer scholarship, and graduated in 2003 with a degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing. I’d always thought about being an attorney, so I went on to law school in Boston and graduated in 2006. After passing the bar exam in Massachusetts, I moved to Michigan to be with my now-husband, where I worked as a paralegal until I passed the bar exam there in early 2008. I then interned at the District Attorney’s office and later worked in commercial real estate leasing – and throughout this period, I found myself feeling increasingly unhappy, bored, and stifled creatively.
I wanted to find a way to unleash my artistic side, and, having been interested in photography since high school, I decided to get serious and started photographing families and weddings on the weekend. Although I technically started my photography business in 2009, it wasn’t until I lost my job that same year (a setback that turned out to be a blessing in disguise!) that I realized I wanted photography to be my career and actually took the leap. With the support of my husband, I officially launched Turquoise & Palm and began photographing families, kids, babies, and weddings full-time!
In June of 2014, my husband and I were lucky enough to get the opportunity to move to Charleston, South Carolina. As a photographer I knew this was an amazing opportunity as it is one of the top wedding destinations in the country. (It doesn’t hurt that the weather is really nice 9 months out of the year, allowing a lot more time for shooting than in Michigan!) Just a couple months later, I gave birth to our son and soon after realized that it was time, once again, to pivot. Weekends were now more precious than ever, and I wanted to be able to spend that time with my husband and our son, together as a family. For that reason, I knew I needed to sacrifice photographing weddings – it was an intimidating challenge, as that had been my focus and livelihood for six years, but I knew that closing the door on weddings only meant that I was making space for something new.
That was the point when Turquoise & Palm started to slowly evolve into a commercial photography studio specializing in product and lifestyle photography for small businesses. I began styling and photographing products for small business owners all over the country (they mail me their products and I shoot them in my studio) as well as working on location with some really awesome businesses right here in Charleston. I quickly found that I loved working with small businesses, and really empathized with their needs and challenges when it came to photography. It became clear that for these business owners and entrepreneurs, keeping up with the daily demands of creating a stunning visual presence online, especially in their social media marketing, was a constant struggle.
What’s more, I knew I could help. I already had a digital library of thousands of images that would be just perfect for these creative entrepreneurs – I just needed to find a way to get them in their hands, and that was the beginning of COLOR! I worked with a great website designer to create a stock photography membership website (the first of its kind, with photos curated especially for creatives) with over 1,200 images in both high-resolution and Instagram-ready formats. Our goal was to make the stock gallery extremely organized and intuitive, allowing members to easily find, download, and put these photos to use! COLOR is also an ever-evolving resource, as new photo collections and collaborations are added every month. The most exciting part for me is that I am now able to serve other creatives and small business owners in a way I never could have before: now anyone can have access to beautiful photos that truly represent how great their businesses really are!
It definitely has taken me a long time to get to a place (7 years – where does the time go?) where I feel like I’ve truly found my niche in the photography and business world. I knew that combining photography and business ownership was what I ultimately wanted for my life and I believe that perseverance and blind faith in myself and what I could create are what ultimately led me to finally becoming my version of successful. My personal vision of success has always encompassed not only financial security, but also the ability to make my own schedule, spend time with my family, and to make positive contributions to the lives of others. I have lots of future plans that involve innovative ways of using my photography skills to make the lives of fellow creatives and entrepreneurs better and easier, but really hope to encourage others to be patient in their journeys because I truly believe the best is yet to come!
Learn more about COLOR or sign up for membership here: www.colorstockgallery.com