If you’re looking for a business owner who is passionate about every aspect of their work, give Laura-Lee Gerwing, owner of My City Photos a call. The budding photography and event company has been located in East Village for 2.5 years now, providing clients a professional, affordable, and customizable experience. “We’re a company for the people,” Laura-Lee tells us proudly. “That’s something that’s close to my heart.”
Laura-Lee started the company after years of working as a professional stage manager. “Honestly, I was tired of working for other people,” she tells us. “I always knew I would work for myself, but I never quite knew what it would be. [Working as] a professional stage manager for theatre, I moved to Vancouver to do more… but that’s a ridiculously tough industry to work full-time in and make any money at.”
We’re seated in Laura-Lee’s studio on East Hastings Street, a bright and functional space that works for both photoshoots and parties. “I started off just doing photography, weddings, headshots and portraits,” Laura-Lee explains. “With my background in stage management, I always wanted to be a professional party planner. So the photography and the event planning kinda came together, and I was trying to find something to differentiate myself. I came up with the idea of hosting kids birthday parties.”
When we ask Laura-Lee about the precise moment she considered herself a photographer, she tells us it’s something that has always been a part of her life. “The short version of the story,” she says, “is I’ve always been one. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I could make a career out of it. I’ve been a full-time photographer and event manager for 5 years now.” Taking that leap to launch her own business wasn’t an easy decision for Laura, but she had some initial help due to a very successful launch through Living Social.
“I was doing photography on the side,” she explains, “and about five and half years ago the whole Groupon thing started, and my sister-in-law said ‘hey, you should do one of those!’ My first one went really well, I made $9000 in one day,” Lauralee beams. “I was just starting off, and I made that chunk of money, quit my day job and crossed my fingers, jumped, and here I am. Those risks are good to take. Scary as hell, but so worthwhile.” With a team of seven, Laura says she wakes up every day pumped for something new.
“I love making props and decorations, planning and organizing, ordering things online, taking photos, working with the kids,” she says. “Honestly every part of it. I love editing and answering emails. It’s kinda crazy, I know. But everything in moderation for me. If I did the same thing everyday, I would lose my mind.” Laura-Lee’s drive is palpable, and with her level of passion there’s surely no way but up.
“I never really considered myself a photographer or event manager. I consider myself an entrepreneur,” she says confidently. “I have big plans for my business, and I’m hoping all the dreaming will come true.”