I have debated for several years whether to tell my story on how Shows Great Photography came to be, but I hope it might be what someone needs to hear that is going through a difficult time and needs a little encouragement.
The year was 2007, and the real estate market was changing. Homes were starting to sit on the market longer, and sales slowed after several years of insane sales price increases and growth. As a single mother with two children still at home, Real Estate Sales had been my life for over 25 years when my sales came to a screeching halt. The new home I had just closed on a few months earlier was going into foreclosure, and there was no way to get anyone to answer the phone at the mortgage company. When I finally got through to someone, their answer was to take my $1300 a-month house payment (that I was struggling to make) and turn it into a $ 2500-a-month payment. I was on a sinking ship and going down fast! One morning I went outside to get in my car, and it was gone. Yep... it had been repossessed. My Dad let me borrow his old Lincoln that we lovingly referred to as "Old Money" (another story for another day).
As I lost everything I had worked for, I started taking furniture out of my home to stage vacant homes that had been sitting on the market for months. Once I had staged these homes, we needed good photos, so I took my little point-and-shoot camera and photographed the newly staged homes. I created a database of REALTORS in SW and Central Virginia, prepared a web-based flyer with the photos, and sent it out at 6:00 in the morning to my database. Soon REALTORS were reaching out to me to include their listings on the daily eblasts. I would create a web page flyer with their photos and send it out to my database. Shortly after that, I started offering to photograph their homes. There was already another photographer in town that was photographing homes and offering floor plans of those homes. His photos were much better than mine, so I decided I could be the loudest if I could not be the best. I selected a name for my new company, "Shows Great," a term we had used for years to describe homes that were in excellent showing condition. I started branding my photos with "Shows Great" in the lower right corner. Soon the market knew who we were, and my little business began to grow. The staging business grew faster than the photography business due to the market conditions at that time. I started getting requests for Staging Proposals and price quotes for getting the homes market ready. Soon Trey and Ananda were working with me full-time, and Tyler was helping on weekends and nights. Martha McGuire joined our team, and later we would add more team members along the way. We worked hard but always managed to have fun. We were doing everything from removing wallpaper, painting, installing light fixtures, and installing new flooring. It was the most demanding work I had ever done. Our goal was to go in and have a home ready to go on the market in 30 days or less. Once the work was complete, we would put furniture in and staged it before it went on the market. In a time when homes were sitting on the market for months and foreclosures were at an all-time high, our newly staged homes were selling in 30 days or less.
As the market started to recover, we began to have more requests for our photography services. Our staging business grew to the point where we could have up to 18 homes fully staged at a time and had a moving crew and staging crew. In 2017, as the photography business had grown to the point that we could no longer handle the staging end of the business, we decided to sell our staging inventory and concentrate all of our energy on our photography business. As the real estate market has changed and evolved, we have continuously tried to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry, adding new tools and marketing services. We have now grown to 4 full-time photographers/ 3 D Techs.
What was the lowest point in my life turned into a catalyst to move me toward something I would never in my wildest dreams have thought possible. Each day I thank God for allowing me to do the things I love with some of the people I love the most. This has been a wild and scary ride, but what a blessing it has been. I truly believe that God never closes a door without leaving a window open. If you are going through a difficult time or wondering where to go next with your life or career, don't give up. Take a moment, mourn your losses, pick yourself up, look for that open window, and spread your wings... the best is yet to come!
Thank you, Roy.