We had the good fortune of connecting with Diana Elledge and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Diana, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
A camera has been hanging around my neck since early childhood. Although I have been a professional freelance cellist for many years and have been employed by an educational music publisher for over three decades, photography has remained my passion. I have always wanted to pursue photography beyond the amateur level for a very long time. Yet, I wasn’t able to put my finger on exactly the best avenue to explore. Alongside my love for photography, I love animals, especially dogs and cats. I grew up with dogs in my family and I currently have 2 cats who are in charge of the household! A couple years ago, I fell into a bit of a funk…felt lost and unsure how to best pursue my passion and perhaps to a degree of earning an income. I decided to organize my existing photograph files and as I reviewed my work, the lightbulb suddenly came on. The overwhelming majority of my photographs were of pets and zoo animals. Not only did the lightbulb illuminate beyond bright, but I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. The answer was obvious…Pet Photography! It was right there…melding my passion for photography with my intense love for pets and animals. Once I got comfortable with this idea (which took all of about 5 seconds), my next step was to find a mentor and enroll in classes/workshops that covered this very speciality in photography. After taking several workshops and finding a most wonderful mentor, the journey towards opening my business became more and more exciting. I knew it felt right. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There is something special about dogs and cats. When I look into their eyes, I find their souls. And when I do that, I try to capture that with my camera. Pets have unique personalities and I just love bringing out what makes them tick. When I have photo sessions with pets, their owners are extremely involved. We have fun. And in the midst, I do my best to help tell a story through imagery. The session itself is almost as important as the art that results from the session. And when a client can look at an image, they can recall the day the photo was captured…and with immense joy. I am a newcomer to the pet photography business and look forward to welcoming new clients! One lesson that I am learning is that I need to “go for it.” I can’t be shy or introverted. As a cellist for many years, my primary form of expression has been through music making. And so with pet photography, I must communicate differently. And in fact, I must communicate in two different ways: with my (human) client and with their pet.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego is a vibrant community with many different places to explore. Of course being a city that hugs the ocean water, we will start with a beach day. And actually, I’ll make it a picnic on the sand. We’ll enjoy the water, but wait…talk about people watching. It doesn’t get much better especially when finding a perfect spot near the surfers. Ideally, we will stay at the beach until sunset. The sunset along the water is gorgeous and peaceful. It doesn’t get much better. San Diego boasts great theatre. As a person who performs in the professional musical theatre scene as a freelance cellist, several nights will be dedicated to attending some great theatre. For a play, The Old Globe Theatre is tops. For a musical, it’s going to be whatever is playing at Lamb’s Players Theatre on Coronado Island. Now let me stop right here and say that a full day and evening will be dedicated to showing my friend around Coronado Island. After a drive over the bridge from San Diego to Coronado, I’ll park the car and we will walk and walk and walk. The homes, from the gigantic mansion-type homes to the tiny little bungalows, all are so wonderful to view while walking up and down the sidewalks. As a pet photographer, I’ll show my friend Dog Beach. It’s a special place that dogs can play off leash. It’s their paradise! You can’t spend a day in Coronado without stopping in and touring the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s a gorgeous historic hotel, made famous in the 1960s movie, “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon. For dinner, now that’s a tough decision. There are many great restaurants. But I think I’ll choose Leroys. A wonderful menu, friendly wait staff, nice atmosphere. From there, the final event of the evening is seeing a production at Lamb’s Players Theatre. Their motto: “telling good stories well.” And that’s what they do each and every night. The San Diego Safari Park is another “must do” on my list. Safari Park is huge and boasts so much remarkable wildlife. We will splurge and take a special wildlife safari tour on a flatbed truck. Those are the best because guests can go deep into several areas of the park and get close and personal with giraffe, rhinos, and more. So much fun! The tour guides are amazing! And let me talk a bit about dining. Well the first food choice has to be fish tacos! So many yummy places to choose from. C-Level is a great choice and so is The Brigantine. And then one of my favorite restaurants ever is The Prado located in Balboa Park. Patio dining is definitely the way to go. Ask about their Chopped Chicken Salad and place an order for their calamari. And finally, I can’t help it, but I will drive up north to Disneyland. It’s only about a 90 minute drive and so worth it for a fun day in the Magic Kingdom and California Adventure. For those of us who are Disney fanatics, it’s easy to forget that friends coming from most anywhere else will find such novelty in visiting these great parks.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Share the Joy Photography (Barbara Brady-Smith), Dog photography Bootcamp (Margaret Bryant, Kim Hartz), Animal Image Makers Conference, Arica Dorff, Chuck Elledge (my husband), the wonderful pets on my website and especially those who have since crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge.”

Website: www.dianaelledgephotography.com
Instagram: diana_elledge_photography
Facebook: Diana Elledge Photography

Image Credits
For “DianaElledge.jpg” : Barbara Brady-Smith All others: Diana Elledge Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.