Name: Julia Murray
Grade: Junior in college
Julia Murray is a dynamo. She is a student ambassador at her South Carolina college, maintains her spot on the Dean’s List, and also owns and operates her own photography business. Specializing in weddings and portraits, Julia is one of those rare people who has found and started working her dream job before the age of twenty-one. In her down time (what little there is of it), Julia loves playing guitar and singing at her local coffee shop in Clemson, South Carolina, and also spending time with friends out on the lake. While she will close one door at the end of 2014 by graduating college (with her Associates degree in video and photo work), she will open another by competing in the Miss South Carolina USA competition in North Charleston. Through it all, she remains humble, down to earth, and gracious. She also happens to be my cousin. (And yes, I’m very proud.)
Q: You’re a musician, a beauty queen, a talented photographer and videographer, and an all-around amazing person. Who or what has shaped you? How do you think you got where you are today?
A: Oh shucks! Well, the first thing that comes to mind is my parents. Ever since I can remember, they have encouraged me to put myself out there and get involved and try new things. Growing up, this taught me so much and allowed me to have all sorts of experiences. Which leads me to the second thing that shaped me! I spent two years at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Greenville, South Carolina, during my junior and senior year of high school. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a residential high school that high schoolers can apply and audition for. There are five art areas that a student can choose to concentrate on as well as their normal high school course load. The art areas are music, visual arts, dance, theatre, and creative writing. You have your normal academic classes in the morning, and then have your art classes from about 1:30 to sometimes six or seven at night. I studied vocal performance there. I had an amazing time at this place and learned so much not just about music, but myself. And I made some really great friendships. My choir there was amazing. We sang for all kinds of churches, events, and had concerts at some really cool places like the Peace Center in Greenville, and some of us even sang in Germany. Throughout my time at Governors School and through my first couple years at college, I learned a lot about myself and what I want in life, and gained a lot of confidence in myself, which really got me where I am now.
Q: Did you always love taking pictures? Did you always know that was what you wanted to do?
A: I think it all first began with videography. I wanted to have a video camera in the third grade, and after my parents gave me a little Sony Handycam, that’s kind of where it took off. I took it everywhere and have ridiculously embarrassing videotapes of me and my friends making mini movies, pretending we were news anchors, and some Britney Spears music videos. When I began high school, I still loved making videos, and in general just doing something creative. (Very bad at sports!) My interest in photography really began in about the tenth grade. I saved up money from my first lifeguarding job to buy a decent DSLR—my grandma also helped me buy it (so shout-out to Nanie, love ya!). And after that, I was hooked. I guess you could say it all started out as a fun hobby and was a creative outlet. I loved learning about the art and also teaching myself. When two of my friends got engaged in the spring of 2013, I began taking their engagement photos and after that, with a lot of support from family and friends, I decided to turn my hobby into a little part-time business while in school.
Q: Once you set your sights on photography, how did you lay the groundwork—or how are you laying the groundwork—to go after that dream?
A: Once I decided that I wanted to do photography as a career, I knew how hard it would be to get started. So I didn’t waste any time! For the first year, I worked… and worked… and worked, mostly for free or for very little cash. But I knew if I gave it my absolute everything, it would all pay off. I set up a Facebook page, created a website, went mailbox to mailbox with business cards, and basically just networked like crazy. “Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
Q: Is your family supportive of you?
A: Absolutely. I think at first, my parents were a little iffy about me making photography and videography my number one priority and studying the art in school. They wanted me to get a four-year degree in something else just in case it didn’t work out…(you know the whole struggling artist stereotype). But thankfully, they trusted my determination and supported me through school and through my business, and also everything else I’ve given a try with—like the Miss South Carolina pageant this fall!
Q: Tell us about your average day.
A: An average day during the school year would probably consist of two or three classes in the morning, an afternoon workout, and then if I don’t have a shoot in the evening, I would probably be doing some photo edits while watching Grey’s Anatomy or I Love Lucy. I have two roommates, Eliza and Lauryn. We live in a three-bedroom townhouse, and most weekday nights end with impromptu dance parties. Put on “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston and you’re in for a treat. If we’re not dance-partying it up, I may have my guitar out and be singing some of my favorite covers— that usually ends up being the Dixie Chicks or Sara Bareilles.
Q: Can you share one of the most memorable moments you’ve captured in your photography?
A: There have definitely been several, but one recent one that comes to mind is a home birth I got to photograph. When I tell most people that I photographed a birth, I get “You did what?!” But it truly was a remarkable and emotional experience.
A second moment was a photo I took of my best friend’s little girl, Luella. Our families are super close, and on one of our beach trips a couple of summers ago, I took a candid photo of her holding a sparkler on the fourth of July. I love the photo almost as much as I love Luella. The photo ended up being published in a calendar for the month of July. It’s very special to me.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do?
A: Hands down it’s seeing the clients expressions when they get their product back, or getting an email telling me how much they love their photos.
I also feel as if every wedding I photograph is meaningful and rewarding because I get to know the bride and groom so much during the process and when the wedding day comes, it doesn’t feel as if I’m just photographing two strangers—it’s like watching two friends get married.
Q: What have you learned about yourself through the process?
A: I learned that if I want something hard enough and try at it every day, anything is possible.
Q: You’ve already done so much in your life—what lies ahead?
A: My camera and I want to travel to new places in the country and out of it! There is so much to see and I want to see as much as I can. I would love to take pictures like you see in National Geographic. I have a box of tear outs from those magazines of the places I want to see for myself. I also still need to swim with dolphins.
Q: Now for the girly stuff. Favorite color?
Q: Favorite book or song?
A: My favorite song is… okay that’s impossible. Top 3:
- “Help me Rhonda” — Beach Boys
- “Many the Miles” — Sara Bareilles
- “Come Away with Me” — Norah Jones
Q: Favorite type of outfit?
A: I love maxi dresses and also jean shorts with a flowy top! I have never liked jeans! They’ve never felt comfortable to me, so I’m one of those girls who wears leggings and long sweaters all winter.
Q: Give us a couple of words to describe yourself.
A: Spontaneous, Bubbly, and I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T. 🙂
Q: Any inspiring quotes or advice you’d like to share with other girls who want to do it all?
A: Stay humble and stay true to who you are! Being unique will always be in style.