The most popular segment on The Starter Log today, "Small Biz Bio" continues with another gem. Meet Jill, a vivacious and adventurous wedding and event photographer that knows no limits. She is arguably the most valuable asset to have at your wedding, besides the ring of course. Learn about what makes her tick, and the "Why" behind her "What".
Q: Tell us about yourself in general
My name is Jill Tiongco, I grew up in the Bensenville/Elmhurst area but I live downtown in the West Loop now. I’ve been running Jill Tiongco Photography for the past four years, specializing in Weddings and Events. Outside of work, I love staying active playing sports and working out, trying new foods, and going on travel adventures. I am always listening music, and in my free time you can find me doing any of the above with my friends and family.
Q: What do you do? What does the process entail?
I am the President and Lead Photographer of Jill Tiongco Photography. Since it’s my own business, my responsibilities vary daily - but when I’m not shooting (weddings, engagements, events) I spend a lot of my time responding to client emails, marketing, keeping track of financials, editing/delivering photos, website upkeep, wedding planning with clients, maintaining my education… a lot of administrative stuff. A lot of times people think that I only take pictures, but in reality, most of my work comes after/before the shoot.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
Day to day, I love the variety of my job. I love that one day I can be out shooting, another day I’ll be meeting with clients, another day I can be cooped up editing by myself all day - and I make the schedule, so obviously that’s always nice. I love that some days I get to be creative, and some days I get to be methodical and business oriented. It keeps me on my toes and makes my life very exciting. But big picture, and most importantly, I love making people happy. Nothing is more rewarding about my job than when clients rave about their photos. My couples are SO thankful that I was there to capture these important moments for them. And I know that these are irreplaceable memories that I helped them remember forever.
Q: Why Photography? What sparked your efforts to pursue a career in this? Why choose the wedding market?
I never knew what I wanted to do growing up; I just knew that I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk Monday - Friday, 9am-5pm. So when I found myself doing just that after college, I knew something wasn’t right. It took me a while to find my passion, and it wasn’t sudden - it was a gradual series of steps that pulled me towards running my own photography business. Things that I wasn’t doing because I felt like I had to, but they were all things that I did because I enjoyed it. I liked taking photos, I liked uploading and sharing them on a website, I liked working with people, especially couples. I liked growing my business (or hobby at the time). And then before I knew it, I was running a full-on business. When I first started, I was shooting anything and everything I could get my hands on. As I gained more experience, I learned what I enjoyed the most and what I was the best at - and that’s how I landed on wedding photography. I love working with couples, their families, and their friends during the happiest time of their lives. I also love the adrenaline rush of a wedding day. I embrace the feeling of excitement that comes with having to capture that one moment, and doing it in a beautiful way. Every wedding day is a challenge and I think over the past few years I’ve continued to improve and find new, better ways of doing things - but I also have a blast doing it. You can often find me on the dance floor at the end of the night dancing right alongside guests as I take their pictures!
Q: What problems have you run into? And how have you solved them?
There are always different problems that come up on a wedding day. Lack of time, lighting restrictions, weather, family drama, traffic… the list goes on an on. Like any other problem big or small - as a wedding photographer you have to be able to think on your feet and improvise. You have to make it work, make it beautiful, and keep a cool face. When it comes to larger scale problems, I’ve found that anything I come across - whether it is growing pains, learning how to do something new, technical difficulties, things that I’m scared of… it helps to ask. No matter how afraid I am of something or how intimidating it is, it’s important to remember that someone else is or has been in my shoes - and the best way to learn is to learn from their mistakes and experiences. I think the biggest downfall a business owner can have is a reluctance or hesitancy to learn. Not only to learn but also to first admit you need help. Once you can admit that, whether it’s asking someone specific for help or even just looking up something online, we live in a world where all the knowledge we need is at our fingertips - we just have to be aware of and open to that help.
Q: What inspired you to start this? What inspires you to continue? What inspires the service you provide?
I think I answered this question above, but I basically started on accident just doing what I love. I’m inspired to continue because although it is hard work, I love what I do. I know I’m blessed to have a passion for my career. And all the love and support from my clients (both old and new), family, friends, and peers is always pushing me to be better. I always strive to continue providing great service and creating beautiful work that I can be proud of. And on days that I’m tired and exhausted and question why I’m doing this - all I have to do is read a client review or talk to someone new and hear the excitement in their voice about the photos they received or are going to receive - and I’m reminded why I love it so much.
Q: Why the name it after yourself and not another name?
I’ve built my business on my brand, myself. There are plenty of other large companies out there that have dozens of associate photographers working under their name - but I want my clients to know they're getting ME and MY creative eye, professionalism, and expertise. The relationship between a couple and their wedding photographer, in my opinion, is the most important relationship they’ll make during the entire wedding planning process. I’m the one that will be by their side the majority of the day, and the photos in their wedding gallery are one of the few things that will last after the wedding day. The flowers die, the food gets eaten, the music stops playing - but the photos last forever. And the relationship I have with my clients has to be completely genuine for me to get real photos. They have to trust me, be comfortable with me, and know that I’m with them every step of the way. Couples may be able to book a more affordable wedding photographer from a larger studio for their big day, but those that understand the importance of the relationship between them and their photographer know that it’s worth the investment to hire a boutique-wedding photographer that you know by name.
Q: Where can people find you?
People can view my website at www.jilltiongco.com
and follow along with new posts twice a week on my blog at www.jilltiongco.com/blog
I’m also constantly updating social media and people can follow me under the following names:
Q: What does the future hold?
I can tell you what I hope the future holds, but no one truly knows because it’s out of our hands! I think that’s something I’ve come to terms with while running my own business. I set goals, take steps towards achieving them, but ultimately plans always change and new goals or obstacles will always present themselves. But in general, I hope to continue to grow Jill Tiongco Photography, make my client experience better, and make sure that I stay on top of photography trends and technology. I want to maintain the quality of my photography/business as I expand - and I want to always love what I do.
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