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

Hi Montana, how do you think about risk?
Funny enough, it has never crossed my mind that leaving the business world at the ripe young age of 25 and starting my own photography business was a risk. I knew i wasn’t happy so to me the real risk was getting stuck at a job because my lifestyle required me to make a certain amount of money. I have always based every decision on a combination of real world numbers and my absurdly always optimistic outlook. And at the end of the day i know if I’m wrong it will be a learning experience. Look, people wait their whole lives to travel when really they could take a long weekend and see Paris. Is that a risk or is it just moving forward and not just sitting back and waiting for life to come to them. I’d much rather be in a cafe in Paris one morning instead of the coffee shop down the street. It does helpo that i can sleep like a rock on the plane…

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’ve been a commercial photographer since 1993. I worked as an apprentice with a photographer for 2 years and waited tables at night to make money for expenses and film. It was the opportunity to see the interactions with clients, see the behind the scenes of contracts and really hone my craft as an artist. I quickly realized there are thousands of photographers that are very good at shooting images but very few of them are good at the business of photography. I worked very hard on making the business a focus for me. I have always been very good with people and developing a relationship with them so it was an easy transition for me to move from images to speaking with the client. One of the first things i realized was hiring and assistant was necessary to enable me to focus on client relations and shooting. It was a huge step for me as I was currently living in my studio and not making very much of a salary. I cut all unnecessary costs and sold some equipment i didn’t need and raised enough cash to pay an assistant for 90 days. We never looked back after that move. It was amazing how clients perception changed of us. We were no longer a one man band. Having clients work with an assistant on the budget, production meetings and some of the minutia allowed me to work on making the best images. Stepping away from 100% control over everything really started my management style of not micro managing. I learned that hiring the right people allowed me to step away and really work on my craft. Hire the right people, train them properly and then let them work!

Over the years we have developed close relationships with many of our clients. We liken it to a 2 week summer camp when the shoot is over people miss us the next day. We like that.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is an amazing place to visit! We absolutely are foodies. We love to start the day with a breakfast at The Cottage in La Jolla. They have the greatest Lemon Ricotta pancakes and the tangerine juice is to die for. Afterwards we walk down to the water and watch the seals on the beach. Lunch time requires a trip to Lucky’s Lunch Counter near the ballpark. It’s just old school good. Dinners are tough and i feel like you may need to extend your trip. A few of our favorites are Kettner Exchange, i am pretty sure we have never dined there without the kale salad. New to our list is Juniper & Ivy. Wow is all we can say, from presentation to food quality it may be unsurpassed. We love to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen and watch the chefs prepare the food. Oh, and you have to try the Scotchness Monster cocktail! A very cool dinner spot is Wormwood, it is a bit off the beaten path but VERY worth it. The cocktail and food menu is inspired by Absinthe and is a unique experience that you must try. For an after dinner cocktail head to Wolfie’s Carousel Bar for a ride on the bar in a very French experience. Last drink of the night should be at Nolita Hall where you watch the planes fly overhead and see the info on a Split Flap display.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents first of all. They always told us we can do anything we put our hearts and effort behind. they also cautioned that our passion may not bring riches. My father was a baptist preacher and there were no riches in our household. I grew up with experiences and not things. This I believe is the greatest gift passed along by my folks.

Three artists played a huge role in my growth as a photographer. All three are fine art painters and I was fortunate enough to rent a studio in the same building as their studios. Sam Perry taught me that dedication to craft and technique are of utmost importance. Stay true to the art and don’t lose focus chasing other peoples ideas. Paul Aho taught me composition. During this period he was painting mostly square canvases and day in and day out his work never strayed away from perfect composition. I was shooting mostly medium format with the Hasselblad so my film was square. I aspired everyday to produce perfectly composed images. Steve Johnson taught me to never be satisfied with my results, to build on success and create stronger more powerful imagery. He was also a mentor to me in the business of art. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all three of these artists in my life.

Website: www.montanaphoto.com

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