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Meet Hayley Gjertsen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hayley Gjertsen.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Growing up in Seattle, I never had a direct interest in photography or videography and truly didn’t expect it to become such a big part of my life. But I think that’s the beauty of trying new things – you never know what will stick. I bought a GoPro in 2015 because I loved capturing memories with friends and of my travels. That’s where my initial interest started in videography. I contemplated buying a camera for a while and finally pulled the trigger at the end of 2017. I then spent months watching YouTube tutorials and self-teaching as much as I could. I realized the best way to learn was to shoot, so I roped friends into being my muse.

As a lover of live music, I decided to merge my two interests and try my hand at concert photography and videography. I reached out to a friend from high school who started a band (shout out Marshall Law Band in Seattle!) and asked if I could come shoot a show. Looking back the photos were pretty bad, but it was the start of my love for capturing music-related imagery and all the energy, passion and movement that happens on stage.

Fast forward a couple of years (all while I worked in a full-time marketing role), I continued cultivating my passion as a side hustle. Shooting concerts and live music quickly became my favorite niche of all. In April 2019, I moved to Nashville to experience living somewhere new (up to that point, I had lived in Washington my whole life) and to see how far my passion for shooting music could take me.

Moving to a new city alone is not an easy thing to do, but I was blown away with how welcomed I felt (everyone was so nice!) and that I found my place relatively quickly within the creative community. There’s something special about being surrounded and supported by other people who are chasing a dream. There’s palpable energy and inspiration that comes with that. I still feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of my lifelong journey with photography and videography, but when I think back to the girl that bought a GoPro 6 years ago, I realize how far I’ve really come.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Honestly? In the big picture, the road has been pretty smooth. Each gig teaches me something new that I take with me to the next shoot. There have been plenty of moments of frustration as I learn something new or times of feeling uninspired, but I think it’s unrealistic to feel inspired 100% of the time. Especially since I’m balancing photography with a full-time marketing job, there are times where I have to shift my focus a little bit. Overall, I think the biggest challenge for me is how hard I can be on myself (but I also think it pushes me to be better). It’s difficult not to compare myself to other photographers and I still struggle with that. Even though I put a lot of pressure on myself, not being fully reliant on photography as my main source of income at this point has taken some of that pressure off and allowed me to experiment and learn and make mistakes without big consequences.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I specialize in music photography and videography, but I also love shooting portraits and landscapes. It’s always good to mix in some “for fun” shoots and passion projects to keep the creativity flowing.

One thing I think sets me apart is that I can do BOTH photography and videography. As a business, it’s helpful to be able to offer both services.

I’ve had some dream-worthy opportunities come my way – such as shooting at the Ryman for Bre Kennedy (when she opened for Sheryl Crow!), spending three days in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains documenting the process as Bre began recording her new album, and most recently joining Zach Bryan for a couple of show dates. I’m excited for whatever’s next! My dream is to take what I’ve learned on the road and go on tour with an artist or band. I think it would be such a fulfilling experience to be part of documenting something like that.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I think photo and video will always be a significant part of the music industry. It’s impossible to market yourself or create a brand without that type of imagery. Video has become more and more important since social media algorithms are now favoring video posts – so moving forward, video content will be crucial for a musician or band’s marketing plan.

For example, it’s pretty common now for a touring musician to have a photographer/videographer join them to document the shows and all-around experience. That type of content helps fans feel closer to their favorite musician and feel like they are getting a ‘behind the scenes look. Another interesting example I’ve seen is Kacey Musgrave’s film “Star-crossed”, which set the music from her new album to stunning visuals in a 50-minute film. I could see this type of production being more common as video grows in popularity.

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