Small Business Success Story: Teresa Hunt

Teresa Hunt Photography

Teresa Hunt Photography Andersons of West Hills Interview

I published Teresa’s story about losing her two boys here and I wanted to interview her again about how she is moving forward. She is a licensed counselor and is spending her life helping others in that way. She has also been a photographer for most of her adult life. Teresa is building her photography business and continuing the healing process in her life. She is a small business success story that you need to read.

Please read along for more from Teresa in her words about her hurt, hope, and healing. She’s also got a photography business that you need to connect with. She’s a professional, knowledgeable and caring, she will bring your photos to life!

Tell me a little bit about yourself. ​

Oh, this is such a broad question. I grew up in Southern Minnesota and moved to Oregon when I was 14 years old. Even though I’ve lived here over 30 years I still get amused over the reaction to snow. I love it when people can detect my very faint Minnesota accent. I have a spirit of adventure and love doing things that feed that.

This past August I summited the South Sister. It was amazing to stand on the top of a 10,000+ ft mountain! I’ve learned so much about myself in the past 10 years and I”m passionate, determined, compassionate, a survivor, a master of sarcasm, authentic, problem-solver, driven and can connect with people easily.

I’ve been a counselor for the past 5 years. I am also a professional photographer – but I’ve let my fears stop me from pursuing this goal. The biggest goals I have for my life are to own my own portrait studio and get into public speaking to tell my story.

Who are the most important people in your life, and why? ​

The most important people in my life are my family and friends. That probably goes without saying. My family, while we have our issues, has been there for me when I needed them. I know they’ll always be there to support me however they can. I have a core group of girlfriends from my photography club that taught me an important lesson about friendship. I grew up with the insecurity that I was that one person in the room no one wanted to be around. But these women taught me that I have real friends, and that I am actually a likable person.

I also have some good friends who are closer to my parents age, I consider them my spiritual mentors. We have the best conversations about God and will often still be talking at midnight. The most recent important person in my life is my son’s best friend. This young man was at our house so much he was like family. After the accident we lost touch, but I always wondered how he was doing. A couple years ago he reached out to me and we’ve reconnected. Though he’s 23 years younger than I am I enjoy spending time with him because, hanging out with him is like having a small piece of my family back.

What are your favorite ways to spend a day? ​

Oh gosh, I’m not sure how to answer this anymore. My life is so different since the accident. Anytime I get to spend good quality time with family or friends is a good day. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing games, watching movies, or just talking. I love being around people. I enjoy going hiking and I lose all track of time (in a good way) when I’m behind my camera. A relaxing day for me is watching a good movie or reading a good book.

How would you describe yourself to people who don’t know you? ​

Hummm . . . . I’ve been told I come off as cold when people first meet me. It’s because I’m shy. I tend to surprise people once I’ve warmed up and feel comfortable around them. The list of adjectives in the first question is also how I’d describe myself. I also have the temper of a red head . . . . but I have a really long fuse and I AM NOT a morning person . . . people have gotten hurt trying to wake me up in the morning.

How did you get into photography? How long have you been doing it? ​

I’ve been taking pictures since I was 4 years old. My mom has a photo of me as a toddler with a camera in front of my face. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I really fell in love with photography. I had to take an elective and decided on photography. That’s when the dream of owning my own portrait studio was born. It wasn’t until the boys were in school that I decided to go after my dream.

I didn’t want to be 80 years old wondering “what if”. I started my business around 2009 and I was starting to gain traction when the accident happened. Oddly enough the year of the accident was my first really good year in business. I think it was God’s way of keeping me mentally afloat. I can remember calling my mom after a photo shoot and telling her the only time I felt normal was when I was behind my camera.

By the end of the year the grief and depression became too much and I had to step back from the business. After grad school and getting settled in my career as a counselor, I’m now trying to go after my dream again. My goal this time is to help women feel confident in front of the camera. After the accident I realized I only have 1 photo of me with both of my boys. I was always taking the photos . . . or I’d shy away from the camera. Women need to be photographed. They deserve to been seen.

On a side note . . . the night I spent in the hospital w/my ex after the accident, I can remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and asking if I was going to keep up with my photography.

Before I’d even finished the question, I knew I would. I wanted to show there is still beauty in this world. Photography is a part of who I am.

What are the three most important things that you want people to know about you? ​Oh, this is a good question . . . I’m not sure I’ve thought of this before. I have a deep faith in God. It may seem weird to say but my faith is a big part of who I am. I am a loyal friend, once we’re friends, I’ll stick by you.

If I talk about my boys, just listen . . . you don’t have to try and make me feel better, refusing to let me talk about them hurts me. I love talking about my boys.

I also don’t mind talking about what I’ve been through with the accident. But there are times it’s too hard for me. I will tell you when that happens . . . and it’s ok to bring the subject back up another day.

Name one life lesson that you didn’t want to have to learn, but you are grateful you did, and why. ​

God does not protect us from pain and suffering, but he will help us endure it. I still struggle with this at times. Also, I’m stronger than I ever realized.

What creative project(s) are you working on that you are really excited about?

​I’m preparing to teach 2 classes to the photography organizations I belong to. I’m teaching a class on overcoming fear for Oregon Professional Photographers Association. And I’ll be teaching a class on grief for the national Professional Photographers Association organization. I’m excited and terrified . . . and struggling with writer’s block.

What messages will people take away when they interact with you, and how can it help them?

Something I’ve started to realize about myself is I like encouraging people. I believe in people and I want them to walk away from a conversation with me believing in themselves as well.

What are you grateful for?

​I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned about myself and God in the past 10 years and I’m grateful to have a nice warm apartment . . . even though I want to own a house. I’m very grateful I don’t have to worry about my boys in the turbulent times we are going through right now. I’m very grateful for re-connecting with my son’s friend.

I’m more thankful for my job in this past year than I’ve ever been and I’m thankful God is patient with me . . . especially when it takes me years to understand a lesson he’s been trying to teach me. Also, for chocolate, Marvel movies I can watch with my nephews, and that I can order groceries online.

So you can see, Teresa is a small business success story! Connect with her.

Teresa, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Learn more about her photography here, and follow her on social media. For more from me on small business, join Andersons of West Hills Mailing List.

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