February 14, 2011

Ones to Watch: Gina Meola & Marcus Murphy

First off, Happy Valentine’s Day! :)

And since this is a day for love, I thought it would only be fitting to introduce you guys to one of my biggest photography couple crushes: Ms. Gina Meola & Mr. Marcus A. Murphy! We were first introduced to Gina when I got an email from her about shooting their wedding. I was heartbroken when I looked at the calendar and saw that we were already traveling that weekend (all you have to do is get one email from Gina & you’ll instantly understand why I was so crushed). She is adorable, effervescent, absolutely bubbling to the surface with life. But in that quiet, comes from her core sort of way that makes you instantly fall in love with her. And then I met Marcus. Her center. Her balance. The rock that she relies on. Strong and well spoken, Marcus is one of those rare people with a gravitational force around him that just pulls you in. Close enough to see just how very big his heart is.

I adore these two. Fully. So you can imagine how happy it makes my heart to see them just blowing up their two passions: Gina Meola Photography & Marcus’s (Marcusesess) motivational speaking. And I think maybe what is the coolest thing about these two is that they are instantly people you want to build up, people you consider the closest kind of friends, and people you turn to when you need some building up of your own. As you can imagine, friends like that are rare in this world. And we are so grateful to have found them.

That is why these two are most definitely Ones to Watch.

We have to preface this with the face that Justin and Mary Marantz have been one of THEE greatest tools and influences in our business!! We are so incredibly thankful and blessed by their hearts and minds.

1) You guys recently made the move to a brand new market across the country…..in many ways, that can be like starting over. What have you guys done to get your name out there? What advice do you have for someone who is just getting started and asks “how the heck do you find clients in the first place?”

We’re crazy. And we’re told this often. But none of our nutty adventures were as serious as packing and hitching a trailer to our little Honda in New York, and driving 2,600 miles West to set up shop in a place we’d never even BEEN. The battles we fought through our first year were hellish, and I wouldn’t wish those stresses on any newly married couple. But with big dreams come big risks, and as entrepreneurs, we knew we had to step out in faith if we were ever going to reach them.

Here’s what we learned along the way ::


It wasn’t long before we realized our lack of a network – personal AND professional – in Arizona would eventually hurt our business. Although we’re international photographers and shoot throughout the country and beyond, frequent work travel is exhausting. We needed to be recognized in our local market… We needed to create a network of people that wanted us to WIN! And really, relationship is the foundation of most great businesses.

Meet Local Photographers

We started meeting with local photographers whose work we appreciated, and the majority ended up as really wonderful friends. From those relationships, we were referred some work. Photography groups like Smugs or Pugs can also be a good avenue to connect.


After we created our “ideal client profile” (thankyouverymuch, J+M!), we intentionally sought out vendors that would come in contact with our couples. Again, we wanted to create meaningful, genuine relationships, and were able to do this with our vendors by identifying a need in their business, and filling it. We also didn’t reach out to 20 florists and 30 caterers. We were very specific in who we contacted, based on our client profile.

You are ALWAYS Advertising

If you are your business, and what sets you apart from every other photographer is you, then anyone interacting with you is being introduced to your brand. Whether you’re out to lunch or shopping, you have the potential to meet and network with the people who live around you. This is another reason why your brand should be authentic and not a poor replica of someone you’re not. Networking doesn’t have to look like cold calling businesses – get out and MEET PEOPLE!


We’ve been incredibly blessed to be featured on numerous wedding blogs. That was a great way to been seen and recognized across the country as Phoenix-based, international wedding photographers.

2) Do you guys have set work hours? What does a typical day at Gina Meola Photography look like?

Naturally, I’m a workaholic. I could wake up at 6am, and with bulging red eyes, work until midnight with no human interaction… happily. But I believe this to be a draining, judgemental, and ultimately self-centered lifestyle. God calls us to relationship, and I didn’t begin working for myself so I would never have time to live life or share my talents, right?

Marcus, however, fits on the other end of the spectrum. Mr. Social would be surrounded by people 24/7 and volunteering his life away if he could! What a blessing (and challenge) it’s been to work out those differences and begin balancing one another.

Our schedule, on a day without meetings, looks something like this ::

6:30am :: I take Paisley out and Marcus leaves for devotions and the gym
7:00am :: Paisley and I hop back into bed for devotions and prayer
8:00am :: Make tea and breakfast to munch while I read three to four business-related articles
9:00am :: Marcus comes home to shower and eat, and I answer emails
10:30am :: BREAK and clean (I love cleaning… doesn’t get much lamer)
11:00am :: Marcus heads out for the day’s errands (drop-offs, post office, etc) and I work on
anything photo-related (blog posts, uploads, editing, albums)
1:00pm :: Marcus and I stare at one another until one of us gives in and makes lunch OR we
grab a quick bite and jet out for a hike or tennis match
2pm – 5pm :: Both finish our tasks and projects for the day
5:30pm :: Answer any emails that came in that afternoon

I’d like to say the computer’s off the rest of the night, but it’s not. If something is pressing, or we’re inspired to work, we do. There are also days when doing anything work-related feels like the biggest drag in the world – so I stop. It’s a waste of time. Here’s a quote of Seth Godin’s I love from his book, Rework;

“If you are inspired on Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you
are high on inspiration you can get two weeks of work done in 24 hours. Inspiration is a time
machine in that way.”

We take Sundays off completely, and are becoming much more intentional about spending time lovin’ on people in and outside the industry.

3) What are the 3 biggest mistakes you’ve made in your business?

Instead of running a business the first year, we let our business run us. I knew where I wanted to be, and I felt like everything outside of work was a waste of time. In many ways, I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be – including a resentful spouse. Our first year as a business was also very trying financially. We were so concerned with surviving, with didn’t give any attention to setting up systems for our finances. Marcus has since taken over those responsibilities. We lacked long-term vision for our business when we started. When you don’t have an overarching vision, it’s so easy to be taken off course by seemingly “good” opportunities. Knowing where your business is going and what it is a vehicle for will give you the freedom to turn down opportunities, good or bad, that are ultimately distractions.

4) What are the 3 things you use for your biz that you couldn’t live without.

I loooove my Wacom tablet. I started using it in college for design, and can’t imagine editing without it! iMac, iPad, iPhone… i… am obsessed? We love Apple and its consistent user platform. Mentors. In life and business. We intentionally seek out people that inspire us, are where we want to be, or will challenge us on an honest, hard to hear level. We believe the closest people in your life are a direct reflection of YOU, and we want to be a God-glorifying, humble, motivated couple who use their gifts to love others.

5) Where do you want to see yourselves in 5 years? What’s the BIG goal?

In five years, we’ll probably have insane children running through the living room… likely with scissors :) We’d like to create a service or product that makes money for us. We’re planning to block nine months out of the year for work, and spend the other three abroad. I’d like to be debt free. We’d like to be in a place where we’re an authority and have a platform to make change. And I’d also love to see Marcus using his incredible gift as a speaker. All of those are important to us, but for a while we were really consumed by our goals. So, we’ve shifted our focus to being open to whatever God has in store for us – even if that means putting down our cameras. We’ll plan for the future, but live in today.

Thank you!! Love you!! xoxo

  1. Payal Patel

    Such an awesome interview. You guys are amazing at what you do. Keep inspiring!

  2. Katelyn James

    I think I’m in love with these people! AND she’s a fellow jstar bride:) Thank you for featuring them and allowing them to share with us! So refreshing!!

  3. Abhishek Patel

    I’m VERY proud to say that these two AWESOME and inspirational people are my friends. Marcus and Gina, We love you guys!

  4. Katie Jordan

    Wow, they are fantastic! Thanks for introducing them to us!

  5. Brooke

    What an amazing couple!

  6. Kristin Nicole

    Awesome interview! Love these articles, it is so great to see what other up and coming photographers are doing.

  7. Maria


  8. Bella

    Perfect description of Marcus and Gina in your opening paragraph!! They surely compliment each other. What a special pair they are.

  9. Denise Nicole

    Love love love Gina and Marcus!!!! So lucky to have them in my neck of the woods. I met them at the Spread The Love Tour in Phoenix and couldn’t be happier that I ran into them! They are so sweet and genuine!!! Thanks J & M for a great interview of these two lovebirds!

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