#45: Expert Interview with Amy Mayes of Amy Mayes Photography [Podcast] - Jenn T. Grace—Book Publisher, Speaker, and Author Skip to the content

#45: Expert Interview with Amy Mayes of Amy Mayes Photography [Podcast]

You are bound to learn a thing or two from today’s show. As always, feel free to reach out with questions or comments – I’d love to hear from you!

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AUDIO TITLE:  Episode #45 – Interview with Amy Mayes Photography 

Jenn T Grace:

You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, episode 45.

Intro:

Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.

Jenn T Grace:

Well hello and welcome to episode number 45 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and today is October 30th, and I am really delighted to be bringing you an interview today that I wasn’t planning on bringing to you for a couple of months now, but I have a great interview to share with you today with Amy Mayes of Amy Mayes Photography. She is a New York based- or New York City based photographer who is an ally to the LGBT community, who is also an LGBT rights activist. And I absolutely loved the conversation that she and I had, and I’m really excited to be sharing it with you. And what makes this conversation even more cool and fun in my opinion is the fact that Amy is a follower of the podcast, so it was kind of- it was interesting to kind of have the tables turned. So instead of listening to the podcast at the gym, the next time she’s at the gym listening to it, she’ll be listening to the podcast with herself. So I think that’s pretty cool, so I am super excited about sharing the interview with you, she’s just got some great, great insights as it relates to LGBT and being an ally, and how to really use that as an opportunity within your business.

So I’m excited about that, but as always before we get into the interview, I do want to just mention a couple of things. And today I’m going to be more brief than usual, and I know that that’s somewhat probably famous last words at this point. But I want to mention three things. So the first of the three is on a personal note, that as you’re listening to this, if you’re listening to it when it actually airs on October 30th of 2014, by the time we speak on the next podcast which will be in the middle of November, I will finally have had completed the half marathon that I have been talking about with you guys for quite some time now. I have been- I’ve really been sharing my journey with you since I decided to do this over a year ago, and the day is finally coming. So in about a week I will be running the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando, Florida, and I’m super excited about it. I finally did my first training run of that full distance not last weekend, but the weekend before, so I made the full 13.1 miles, still standing when I reached the end of it, and I did it in two hours and 39 minutes, and 29 seconds. So my goal has been to do it in 2:55 or less, so I already beat my goal. So I am super, super excited. So I will certainly be updating you with information as it relates to my race in the next podcast in the middle of November when I can finally say I’ve done it, and you can all breathe a sigh of relief that it’s done on my behalf. So that is number one I wanted to mention.

And then I have number two, which you hear me talk about all the time, is that I do have a webinar coming up in the middle of November, so if you are interested, head on over to www.JennTGrace.com/webinars and by all means RSVP for that one. If you’re listening to this at some point in time, and maybe it’s 2017 and you’re listening to this, there’s still probably a webinar going on so still check out that page. So that’s that.

And then the last thing. On the last podcast I had talked to you briefly about wanting to reach out to you to talk on the phone for fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, whatever amount of time you can give me, to find out more about what you do. I’m really trying to take my business to the next level in 2015, and in order to do that I really need to know what your pain points are as it relates to marketing to the LGBT community, or communicating with the LGBT community, and the best way I’m going to find out what those pain points are, are having direct conversations with you. So I am really excited about the amount of response I actually got from the last time I mentioned this on the podcast, so I’m going to keep talking about it and again if you’re listening to this and it’s four years later, there’s no reason why I still don’t want to hear from you. So please, even if you’re listening to this four years from now, I want to hear from you, I want to know what your pain point is because ultimately I want to be providing products and services and information that is going to help you along that path.

So those are my three things. As I said, I’m going to be a little bit more brief than usual, and I guess without further ado, let’s just hop over into the interview with Amy today. I feel certain that you are going to really enjoy it, and of course as always I would love to hear your feedback after the interview. And of course, give Amy some love too. Go on over to her website, check her out online, do what you’ve got to do because she has some amazing imagery that I’m sure she would love for you to check out. So that’s that, now let’s just go into our discussion with Amy.

So Amy, I am absolutely thrilled to have you on today’s podcast. And before we get going, I want to really just kind of dive into a little bit more about what your story is. I’ve kind of given the listeners just a really brief, quick overview of who you are and what you do, but I really want to know more about your story, and what your path has looked like that’s led you to where you are currently today.

Amy Mayes:

Okay, that sounds great. So photography is actually my second career. I have a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and for ten years I was a Federal Probation Officer. So my former career, I saw people losing their freedoms as a result of racial and socioeconomic inequality, and I felt like I was contributing to a system that worked in opposition to my core values. So this dynamic served as a powerful reminder that the feelings I had extended way beyond what I saw happening at work. I was always a very passion driven person, and craved creativity, and free thinking, and I knew I needed to be contributing to the world in a different way. I realized that I could support myself doing something that I loved, and I understood that I had an art- I’m sorry, I had an eye and a heart to guide me. So I began taking pictures to tell other people’s stories. When it came to making the career transition, the photography part I had figured out because I’d always loved it so much and it was a way for me to express myself creatively. But the next step, and the most important piece, was figuring out specifically what I wanted to shoot. So I did a lot of soul searching, and I realized that very simply stated, I don’t like it when people are treated unfairly. So basic human rights, freedom of self-expression, having the courage to be one’s self in the face of adversity; these were all values that I wanted to connect with my work. So now I’m creating images with the purpose of increasing visibility of the LGBT people, celebrating love and diversity, and challenging stereotypes. I’m also using my images to promote social justice and equality. I think photography is a powerful tool for change, and I believe that an image has a way of resonating with the viewer long after it’s been seen. Photography is about knowing how to capture human emotion and dynamic within a fraction of a second, and it’s about connecting with the energy unfolding in front of you, and being fully present. It’s about capturing time, place and emotion, and being able to feel it before you see it. And this is what Amy Mayes Photography is all about.

Jenn T Grace:

Wow, that is- that’s an awesome story.

Amy Mayes:

Thank you.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s interesting that you kind of took some- a system that somewhat felt broken to you, and found a way to actually channel your passion through being able to tell stories of others, that’s really awesome.  I did not realize that about you, pretty cool way to start off the interview today.

Amy Mayes:

Yes, thank you. Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

So let’s talk about a fun fact. And I know that you are a listener of the podcast, so this will not come by surprise to you. But I do like to start off interviews with some sort of- just something random about yourself that very few people know or would expect from you.

Amy Mayes:

Sure. So I love to travel, and I love adventure, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great experiences. I have been skydiving, trekked through the Nepal Himalayas, been hand gliding in Rio, spent some time in the Amazon rain forest, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, and most recently I have travelled to Europe- to Cuba, sorry.

Jenn T Grace:

Wow.

Amy Mayes:

Yeah I feel like honestly I really haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s more traveling to be done.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh there’s always more traveling to be done.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely. Yeah, I mean I really feel like the experience that I’ve had, it inspires me, it teaches me to see things from different perspectives, and it also really implores me as a photographer.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh yeah, and I feel like every- especially for photography, every walking out of the house any day of the week I feel like is an opportunity for some sort of great new imagery that you can come home with, regardless of where you’re going.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely. I mean there’s beauty everywhere, there really is.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely. I think that every day when I go out and run, I run on- it’s a trail between like a canal and a river, and it just regardless of what season it is, it’s always absolutely gorgeous and beautiful. And I always wish I had time to just stop and take pictures, but I don’t because I’m trying to get back to actually doing something more productive with my day, i.e. working, but it’s just so beautiful regardless of when it is. And I feel like a lot of people don’t take enough time out of their day to just kind of see the beauty around them. I think that that’s really refreshing.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely. Stop, take a moment, take a deep breath, look around, yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely. So did you have some sort of ‘ah-ha’ moment around what you’re doing? I know that you were talking already about kind of blending your former career, and now currently with your photography. But was there like a specific moment where it just kind of hit you and you realized that you needed to make that switch?

Amy Mayes:

I actually- I see it more like a bunch of ‘ah-ha’ moments, and I feel like in recent years it’s really just been like one ‘ah-ha’ moment after another, and they really just keep on coming, and I don’t think they’re ever going to stop. And I feel like life is always presenting us with these moments, and it’s really up to us to be open to them so we can recognize them when they happen. But I could talk a little bit more about sort of my feelings around these important moments.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes, please.

Amy Mayes:

It’s about- it’s about sort of understanding that I was starting to fall in love with the way I see the world, and I realized that the camera was a natural extension of that. So that was a big one for me, and also every time I become clearer about my message, and about how I’m putting myself out there as a photographer and an LGBT rights activist and an ally, those are also very important ‘ah-ha’ moments, and I tweak little things along the way to make it so I can grow with what I’m doing.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely. And I like that you called yourself an LGBT rights- did you say advocate or activist?

Amy Mayes:

Activist.

Jenn T Grace:

Activist, perfect.

Amy Mayes:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

I certainly- I have a handful of blog posts on my website that actually address the difference between the two. But I like that you self-describe yourself as such, and I already- I warned you and then I said I was going to try not to go rogue, but of course I’m going rogue. Where- you know at what point in your career, or I guess maybe even your life did you realize that you needed to kind of- it’s almost like putting your stake in the ground and declaring that you are an ally to the community. And you are a listener of this podcast, and those who are listening understand that I’m always talking about allies, and how important allies are to really moving the movement forward, and getting the job done. So what do you think is the difference between somebody who is kind of out there doing business with the community, marketing to the community, and then somebody who is really kind of putting a stake in the ground and saying like, “I am- I am an ally to this community, and this is something that’s really important to me as a human and as a business owner, or as a professional.” Do you have any thoughts around that?

Amy Mayes:

It took me a while to call myself an ally, because I didn’t- I actually didn’t realize that term was used back when I first started Amy Mayes Photography. And so I- it all sort of came from following my gut, and following my heart, and then doing the research, and figuring out sort of what I was. I think- I mean an ally, an ally is someone who is sort of actively out there doing things to promote LGBT equality, I think.

Jenn T Grace:

I would agree with that wholeheartedly.

Amy Mayes:

Yeah. As far as calling myself an LGBT rights activist, that took a while too because I realized- I was actually, this is funny. I was at the gym and I was in a spin class, and it just- it just came sort of at me in my head. I said, “Oh, I’m an LGBT rights activist.”

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome.

Amy Mayes:

And it was sort of based on all of these things that I had been doing, I just wasn’t labeling myself in that way. You know? An activist is someone who’s out there, and really doing things to make a difference.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely, and I think that a lot of people are reversed from what you were just saying. Where they will just go out and declare that they’re something, and they don’t really have any meat behind why they’re declaring something. Versus you, who were out there doing it, and then it kind of just hit you one day. You’re like, “Oh, I’m totally this.” I think that that’s awesome.

Amy Mayes:

Yes, that’s what happens. And it’s scary to go out there and do something without knowing what you’re calling yourself. And that does come later. So it’s the action and then it’s the name for it.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely, that’s awesome. And I know that because you’re out there doing, that you are a member of a local chamber of commerce, the NGLCC New York.

Amy Mayes:

I am.

Jenn T Grace:

And I’m really excited that through listening to my podcast and hearing me say that, “Hey, maybe you should get involved in something locally,” was one of the reasons why you kind of first reached out and connected with them. Have you found that you are- what is the question? Like I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this. That you are- because you’re actually active, not only more broadly with the community and calling yourself, and really kind of being an activist. But have you found that kind of your involvement with that local community through the chamber of commerce, is actually helping you in different areas? Or actually helping you supplement your business in some capacity?

Amy Mayes:

Yeah, I’ve definitely gotten work from it, but I feel like a lot of the value is in the people that I’m meeting. I don’t think I would have had access to this incredible group of people from- I mean such a diverse background. I mean when I go to the events, it’s like I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” The people, one is more different from the next, and you know it’s just- it was an eye-opening experience for me, and it’s given me an opportunity to meet and network with some great people I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know in any other way.

Jenn T Grace:

And I find that I’m all about meeting and networking with new people as well, and that’s actually one of the things I feel like keeps me motivated, and that’s actually my next question to you. Is you know, what keeps you motivated personally? And what inspires you on a day-to-day basis? Because I’m sure, especially as a creative person, there’s probably so many things that are inspiring to you. But I know for me, just going out there and just meeting new people, and hearing other people’s stories of what they’re doing that’s really awesome, is one of those things that kind of just keeps me moving forward every day. So what is it for you?

Amy Mayes:

I don’t- it’s not anything specific that I do, I just sort of- I sort of have this gut feeling telling me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and that stopping is just not an option. I think some of that has to do with the gift of being able to experience the contrast between my first career and my current career, and then that helps guide and inspire me, because it’s so vivid in my world. And I also- my LGBT friends inspire me, people who are fans of my work, friends who challenge me by asking me tough questions, and help me to see things from a different point of view. I feel like it makes me stronger, and wiser, and I’m incredibly grateful for them.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome. I feel like there’s always something that can be learned from somebody else, even if it’s somebody who’s doing way more than you are at the current juncture, or somebody who’s just starting out; I feel like there’s always an opportunity to kind of learn from each other.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely, see what other people are doing and- yeah. And to sort of- and to understand what their particular focus is.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely.

Amy Mayes:

And how they’re using that too.

Jenn T Grace:

Especially as it relates to the LGBT community, because we are going to get into marketing in a couple of minutes, and I feel like there’s especially LGBT marketing, there’s always something that can be learned by something that someone has done poorly, or something that somebody has done really well.

Amy Mayes:

Exactly.

Jenn T Grace:

So that’s a whole other piece of it too.

Amy Mayes:

And to learn from yourself.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes. Yes, and I will ask you a couple of questions about that momentarily. So do you have any particular advice that you’ve been given whether it’s business or just something that maybe a teacher in grade school had said to you, that just is one of those things that kind of becomes like a guiding principle for what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis?

Amy Mayes:

Yes. Two different pieces of advice, and these are things that I think about on a regular basis. Somebody said to me, “Success is about two things; clarity and confidence. Clarity is about knowing exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you’ll get there, so seeing everything crystal clear. And then confidence is simply knowing that you can do anything that you want to do.” And those two pieces just work so well together, and it helps me see things in the right way. And the other thing is every experience is here to teach us something. So no matter what happens, big or small, good or bad, it’s here to teach us and prepare us for the next step. So the trick is to take time after every experience we have, ask ourselves what was the lesson? What was this here to teach me? Then to understand the lesson and really absorb it, even if it’s difficult and at times it will be. And this is how we grow.

Jenn T Grace:

That is really awesome. I feel like that can be applied in so many areas, not just- not just as like professional development, but personal development, in your relationships with people, whether it’s business or otherwise, that’s some really good, good insight.

Amy Mayes:

That’s absolutely true, professionally and personally. If something happens to me, I’m like- it causes me to pause. I’m like, “Oh, there’s a lesson here.”

Jenn T Grace:

And that’s so- I feel like, not advanced but just so kind of like forward thinking to be- to really be paying attention to emotions and you know, why- you know why do I have this gut feeling that’s not floating well? Like what is the root cause of this? Or you know like for example, yesterday I don’t know what it was, but something just threw me off, and just put me into a grumpy mood. And I said to my wife, I’m like, “I’m a grump ass today, and I don’t know why.” And I was just so- and she was in the kitchen as I’m like yelling to her from a room away just saying that I’m a grump ass and I just don’t know like what is causing it. But then when I started thinking about it I’m like, “Alright, well where in- like where during my day did I kind of just turn this corner in turning into kind of more of a grumpy mode?” And then once I was able to like think back to it, it made perfect sense as to how I got to that place. But it’s one of those things that you can kind of let an emotion, or let a circumstance kind of control everything about you, or you can kind of think about like why- why it has any controlling effect, and then fix the problem.

Amy Mayes:

Right, exactly. Yes.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome.

Amy Mayes:

That’s what it’s all about. And you know, it’s funny too because a lot of those times when we look back and ask ourselves, “Well what was that thing that set me off?” It’s usually about something about us. And that’s why it’s difficult because you really have to look at yourself and say, “Oh, I should have reacted maybe a little differently than that, maybe I interpreted this the wrong way,” or whatever it is, it’s something that’s giving you an opportunity to grow.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, because it’s like, “Oh I’m the problem.” It’s like what are those moments? It’s like, yeah I could have handled that better. Yup. I totally- that’s funny. That’s really good advice though, I feel like that’s good advice for just business and life, and that’s kind of one of the reasons why I just really enjoy talking to people on this show, is just because I get to kind of see people, and hear stories that really kind of blend both. Because ultimately you know, we’re not professional all the time, and we’re not personal all the time. Like we’re in a society now, especially it’s such a social world that everything just kind of blends together these days versus I feel like you know even ten years ago it was definitely more of a dividing between business and home life.

Amy Mayes:

I totally agree. These days your professional life and your personal life, it’s all interconnected. So yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

This is awesome so far, and this is actually a really good natural break. So I am going to pause our conversation for just a moment so we can hear from the sponsors of this podcast, and then we will get right back into talking about marketing with Amy in just a moment, so just hang tight.

Alright, so I am back with Amy Mayes of Amy Mayes Photography. And we have been having an awesome conversation just kind of about business and life. And now I want to turn the conversation over to talking about marketing specifically, and as it relates to the LGBT community. So Amy I know that you- we were already talking about how involved you are as an ally to the LGBT community, so I know that- I’m sure that you’re going to come up with some interesting information for us today. But my first question is for those who are listening to this, and they want to- maybe they have no idea what they’re doing as it relates to marketing to the community at this juncture, or maybe they’re more advanced. But in either case, is there just some piece of advice that maybe you wish you had been given in the past? Or just something that you know that could really be valuable to somebody listening to this to kind of just push them along their way on this path of marketing to the LGBT community?

Amy Mayes:

Oh yeah, absolutely. You talk a lot about authenticity, and I think that- I think that’s number one. Be authentic. Understand the community, get to know people, do your research, and I do some volunteer work with LGBT rights groups- or LGBT groups, join your local chamber of commerce like we talked about, and develop authentic relationships and nurture those relationships. And it’s about, you know, surrounding yourself with people who share your same values. I think that’s incredibly important. And also about having clarity, you also talk a lot about knowing your ‘why,’ which I love. When I heard you say that, that was- that definitely struck a chord with me. Why? Why are you marketing to the LGBT community? Have clarity around that, and communicate it effectively. Really think about it.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes, those are- I love that you are a listener of the show, and I love that it’s things that I’m saying that actually are resonating with you already. So that’s awesome. And I’m going to ask you a really candid question around you know, volunteering and developing authentic relationships, because I find that a lot of people kind of come to wanting to market to the community because they think that it’s just this behemoth that has a lot of money to spend, and you know it’s a monolithic mass of people, typically are assuming that it’s just affluent gay white men, and clearly there’s just so many other components to marketing to the community. But the biggest stereotype that I find, or biggest assumption maybe, is that the community has a lot of money and it’s going to be like an instant success by saying- declaring, putting a stake in the ground today saying, “I’m going to market to the LGBT community tomorrow,” and then just expecting instant results. And since you talked about developing authentic relationships, and getting involved, and volunteering. You know I’m sure you’ve been doing this for a while, we didn’t even really talk about when you started on this journey, but have you found that it has been- it’s taken a significant period of time for you to really kind of get into a rhythm and a momentum of really kind of getting business from what you’ve been doing?

Amy Mayes:

Oh yeah, it definitely takes a while. It’s a commitment. But it doesn’t- again I think when you’re doing- when you’re following your heart and your passion, it doesn’t feel that way. Yeah, you take- you need to take time and energy to dedicate to getting to know people, and to putting yourself out there. And I’ve- yeah it has taken a while. And I’m still working on it, but again it doesn’t really seem like work, because I am- I am meeting people who again, share the same values and it’s easy, you know? It’s easy when you’re being authentic.

Jenn T Grace:

I love that you just said that, I was totally going to go down that direction. Because that’s really what it comes down to. Because to you, you said it doesn’t seem like work because this is just- it’s you being your authentic self, versus the person who doesn’t understand their ‘why,’ and they just think that ‘the gays’ have a lot of money, and that is air quoted. You know somebody who think that and has that mentality, this is going to seem like a big, heavy boulder to be kind of like pushing along. Versus someone like yourself who really is authentic and it just seems, you know it’s just part of your day-to-day, it’s not added extra effort for you to be doing this.

Amy Mayes:

Exactly, and I think that’s probably a good way for people to- a good gauge for people if it doesn’t feel easy, then don’t do it, because you’re not being authentic.

Jenn T Grace:

I love that quote, and I think I’m going to write a blog post with that phrase in it.

Amy Mayes:

Oh that’s great.

Jenn T Grace:

If it doesn’t feel easy, then don’t do it. Because I think that that really sums it up. And you know everything in business, like there are many things that I absolutely am not a fan of doing in terms of my company, i.e. accounting is one of them. And that doesn’t feel easy to me, which is why I don’t do it, I outsource it. So it’s- I guess it’s very similar in terms of marketing. Like if marketing to a certain group of people to me was really a chore, and it just seemed like a time or an energy drain, then there’s no reason why you would want to continue doing that because your success rate ultimately isn’t going to be great because your heart is not in the right place.

Amy Mayes:

Right, exactly.

Jenn T Grace:

This is interesting stuff, I’m happy that we’re talking about things that haven’t previously been discussed, or we’re talking in more detail on things that may have just been surface level in other shows, so this is awesome. And I want to ask you, because I know typically I ask some sort of, you know like do you have some kind of coming out story or some question like that. But in your case, as an ally and somebody who really you put yourself out there as an ally, as an LGBT rights activist, I would imagine that you get questions from folks who are just asking you, you know why you’re doing this? Or you know, wondering what your relationship to the community is. And I know before we hit record we were talking about some examples of times where you’ve handled it really, really well. But then also a time or two where you could have handled it a bit better. So for the sake of really educating our audience here today who are allies like yourself, would you mind sharing two examples of a time where somebody has asked you- number one, what is that random question that they’ve come with and asked? And how you’ve handled the situation both from a really positive perspective, and then also one that you feel you could have done a little bit better.

Amy Mayes:

Gosh, let’s see. I do find myself in some interesting conversations, and sometimes not knowing how I got there. Let’s see. So my brother-in-law is gay, and so I think a lot of people think, “Oh, oh it’s because your brother-in-law is gay, right?” And I’m like, “No.” I say, “It’s actually- it’s about human rights, and civil rights, and equality, and social justice, and creating images to promote these things.” So there’s a lot of that like, “You must- oh you must know a lot of gay people.” I get a lot of, let me think. Oh I actually have a very good friend in the LGBT community who challenges me and I appreciate that because it helps me sort of think of things differently. She said, “Well you know, what does a straight girl want to take pictures of gay people for?” And I’m like, “Well because,” and then I’m thinking about, and have to go back to what we discussed earlier, back to my journey, and back to my core values, and why I’m creating images to increase visibility and celebrate love, because that’s what it’s all about. I also get a lot of, “Oh wow,” this actually has less to do with being an LGBT rights activist and an ally, more to do with my other career and there’s a lot of, “Oh what did- well being a federal probation officer and a photographer are two completely things.” So I sort of learned to say, “Well it’s actually not for me, it might seem that way to you, but that doesn’t matter because you’re not doing it.” But for me there’s a lot of connectivity, and it makes a lot of sense. So I hope that- there’s probably some more, but I cannot think of it right now. I think some people just sort of like look at me with their head tilted and just don’t say anything. And then I’m like- and then I just change the subject because it’s not worth it.

Jenn T Grace:

Yup, yup. Sometimes it’s not, other times- other times it’s worth the getting on the soapbox and going on some sort of tangent, and other times it’s just easier to kind of keep on moving.

Amy Mayes: You’re right, and I think the more you talk to people, the more you know what direction you can go in with the person who’s standing in front of you.
Jenn T Grace:

Mm hmm, yeah I feel like there’s so many different variables. And it’s interesting that as we’re talking about your experience with people just talking about your involvement with the community, it really isn’t a whole lot different than people having to decide whether or not they’re going to come out in that instance. So you deciding whether or not it’s worth your time to go down some sort of diatribe or get on your soapbox to explain to somebody why you’re doing this in great length that actually makes sense to them versus something more surface level; it’s not much different than somebody in a split second having to decide whether or not they come out, which is a whole other- you know just a whole can of worms in itself.

Amy Mayes:

That’s really interesting, I’ve never thought of it that way.

Jenn T Grace:

Because you kind of are coming out, because they’re asking you questions as it relates to your involvement with the LGBT community. So you know, it’s interesting because you’re handling it on a case-by-case basis which a lot of people who are coming out are also doing. Like even myself as a self-proclaimed ‘Professional Lesbian,’ there are still times where I have to come out, and sometimes it’s just so annoying and frustrating, and other times it’s just really natural and easy, and a lot of times it just depends on the audience that- you know the person on the receiving end of your response.

Amy Mayes:

You’re absolutely right, that’s really fascinating, I’m going to think about that afterwards. That it’s the same- it’s a very similar dynamic.

Jenn T Grace:

It is because you’re educating that person on the other end of the conversation who is clearly doesn’t understand where you’re coming from, and you have that opportunity to either help them understand it or just kind of put your head down and keep on moving, because it’s not- you know it’s not worth the time and effort it might take.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely, yeah. And you have people who fall like everywhere on that spectrum. You have people- I’ve said- someone will ask me, “Oh what do you do?” I said, “Oh I’m a photographer and an LGBT rights activist.” And I’ll get *gasp* “Oh my gosh, that’s wonderful.” So right off the bat, you get it, you like it. You know and then- and everywhere from there to you know, the head tilt and the, “What?” So that’s fascinating.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s really interesting stuff, and one thing that I want to point out from what you were talking about before, is that one of your examples was somebody just assuming that because your brother-in-law is gay, that has some bearing on your involvement in the community, when really for you, it happened to be long before that.

Amy Mayes:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

But I know that we dismissed that in the sense of because for you it’s a journey that started well before he arrived on the scene. But I think that it’s important to note for somebody listening to this who hasn’t yet really kind of set out on the path of understanding what their ‘why’ is. Having a brother-in-law who’s gay, or a sister-in-law who’s a lesbian, or anybody in your family or close friends who are LGBT, that is really a perfect foundation for understanding what your ‘why’ is. Because if you didn’t come to this conclusion prior to having that person in your life, but once that person did come into your life and really kind of came to- came to help you understand the community better, and for that reason that makes you want to be more active, then that is a great foundation for understanding what your ‘why’ is. Just for you it happens to be far more in-depth than that. But I can imagine for many listeners, it could be something as simple or seemingly simple as having a relative, a son, daughter, sister, brother who is part of the community.

Amy Mayes:

Absolutely. And then- and all of us know- all of us have family or friends, LGBT family and friends. We all do, you know?

Jenn T Grace:

Whether we know it or not.

Amy Mayes:

Exactly. So you know, you’re right, I think that’s a great thing for people to think about.

Jenn T Grace:

And I had a conversation- and I’m hoping that she’s listening, is another two-N Jenn, in a sea of Jennifers, was talking with me the other day on the phone, and we were talking about how she can now perform weddings in her local geographic area because of marriage equality. And she was talking about how you know, she’s got all these friends, family, relatives, people that she’s been involved with and she’s been doing this for a while, and the LGBT community is really important to her, and she had a handful of really strong ‘whys’ throughout that conversation, but it wasn’t until like the very last thing that she happens to mention to me, is that her daughter just recently came out as LGBT to her. And it was interesting to me that for a lot of people, the ‘why’ would really be that hitting really close to home type of thing. Like, ‘Oh wow, my daughter or my mother, or brother, or father is part of the community and just came out to me,’ like that would be really foundational. But for her, there’s just so much more to it that this was just one more kind of an added piece that she doesn’t really think about. And I feel like it’s kind of- I guess it’s more of a complex ‘why,’ just like yours.

Amy Mayes:

Yeah, it is complex. Multi-faceted, yup.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s a wonderful way of putting it though. Let’s see, where should we go from here? So why don’t we just talk about just something quickly; and I always add this in for most of the time it’s for my own personal benefit because I’m always trying to improve what I’m doing in many ways. But do you have any type of book, or a program, or just some kind of tool that’s kind of helped you in regards to like your professional development, or your career, or maybe it’s even something more leisurely.

Amy Mayes:

I actually have a person.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh, fun.

Amy Mayes:

So I hired a career coach when I was making- to help me with my career transition, because it was such a huge move in my life. And she was phenomenal and she helped me connect the dots, and make a plan, and see things clearly, and then once I started to change my outlook, opportunities started to present themselves. And she’s a career coach, and my- I mean my thing is if you need help, ask for it. And at that point, I needed help, and I asked, and here I am.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome.

Amy Mayes:

Her name is Barbara Russo, if I could plug her.

Jenn T Grace:

Sure.

Amy Mayes:

She’s online at www.RussoStrategics.com, and she’ll do telephone meetings with people if you’re not close by to her.

Jenn T Grace:

And I imagine- I don’t know that we’ve actually- oh I guess we did say that you’re part of NGLCC New York, so one would assume that you’re in New York. But just for those listening who didn’t pick up on that, you are in New York City.

Amy Mayes:

I am, yes.

Jenn T Grace:

So that’s awesome, I’m glad that you said that, and I’m not sure that anyone has actually answered that question with that answer before so that’s awesome because I myself am a very firm believer in having some sort of sounding board. So I have a coach, and then I also have a peer advisory board of other very, very successful women where I feel like I’m- like I feel like I have a certain level of success, but these women just kind of blow me out of the water and I would prefer to be around those who are doing better than I am so  I can learn from them and just kind of be a sponge, and I feel like they’re so instrumental to kind of growing and the same thing with business coaches like Barbara, or career coaches, whatever word you’re going to call them. But you know they’re just somebody to kind of be that extra set of eyes on what you’re doing to kind of either reel you back in when you’re doing something stupid, or kind of pushing you out when you’re afraid to make that next jump.

Amy Mayes:

I agree 100% sometimes it’s difficult to see outside of what’s going on inside of you.

Jenn T Grace:

Mm hmm, yeah and there’s more times than not that I’m like outside in my yard pacing around on the phone with mine, her name’s Maria, and it’s she manages to take all of the garbage that I’m spewing out and just kind of like separate it, and put it into nice little buckets, and then say, “Alright, so this is what you’re really trying to tell me.” It’s like, “Oh you’re so genius right now,” and it’s like without that person I feel like you’d just kind of be spinning in your head over, and over, and over.

Amy Mayes:

It’s true, get it out of your head and get it out there on paper, whatever you have to do to just sort of, you know, flush it out.

Jenn T Grace:

Every now and then you just need a good smack to point you back in the right direction.

Amy Mayes:

You’re absolutely right.

Jenn T Grace:

So what is- I’m sure you’re working on just a ton of stuff, but as it relates to right now, is there something that you’re working on that you’re really proud and really excited that you’ve taken on?

Amy Mayes:

Yes. So I am working on a new photography series, it’s called ‘Love Stories,’ and it features lifestyle portraits of LGBT families taken at home. And the photos are shot in documentary style against the backdrop of everyday life. So it’s an ongoing series, and it’s meant to increase the visibility, specifically of LGBT families, and to celebrate love and diversity. Some images I already shot for the series are on my website, and anyone interested in participating can email Love@amymayesphotography.com.

Jenn T Grace:

So I know that you just mentioned your website, but can you actually mention it again, give us the full URL, and then any other ways that people can kind of contact you after the fact? I feel like something like this is so, so awesome. And are you willing to travel, or are you just looking for couples who are in New York? You know, what are your parameters, because I feel like I would love to find a way to help support this endeavor of yours, because it seems so important.

Amy Mayes:

I am definitely willing to travel, and we can talk about that. So- and I’ve- yeah, absolutely. And I would love to travel because I want to get as diverse- as diverse a representation as possible. And I’m really excited about where this is going, this is actually fairly new, and it’s- I’ve been getting such a positive response from people, and it’s been incredibly exciting and just definitely the most amazing thing that’s happened to me, and to Amy Mayes Photography since it started.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome, I feel like it seems like such a simple concept that just not- there’s just not enough imagery out there that really kind of reflects every day LGBT life. Which really is no different than every day other people life.

Amy Mayes:

Exactly- and that’s exactly what I want to put out there. Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome, and I try to- I try to tell people this when I have one-on-one conversations, that like my home at night with two kids is no different than any other straight families home at night with two kids. Like our being in a same-sex relationship really has absolutely no bearing on day-to-day life.

Amy Mayes:

Exactly.

Jenn T Grace:

And it’s so important, and I’m so happy that you’re actually showcasing that, that’s awesome.

Amy Mayes:

Thank you for saying that.

Jenn T Grace:

So why don’t you- if you have anything else on your mind that we didn’t cover, feel free to mention it now. But just give yourself a plug, let everyone know where they can find you, your website, social media, email list, whatever it happens to be. Just throw everything out there.

Amy Mayes:

Sure. So it’s- my website is www.AmyMayesPhotography.com. Everything’s on there, and I’m all over social media; so if you go to my website, there will be links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that good stuff. The blog is located in the same place, and there’s a newsletter that you can sign up for, it’s quarterly. And that’s it.

Jenn T Grace:

Awesome.

Amy Mayes:

Everything is linked from there.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s the beauty of having a home base on the web that has your name in it. Everyone can find everything they need, other than a carrier pigeon which is my dream. I want to start like a carrier pigeon service or something, just because I’m always talking about that. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just getting like a photo delivered to you from a pigeon?

Amy Mayes:

I love that, yeah get a little knock at your door.

Jenn T Grace:

I suppose drones are really kind of the future of what that’s looking like, with Amazon flying around boxes, which is a little bit creepy versus a bird, which I suppose could be equally as creepy.

Amy Mayes:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

Maybe a little bit worse. I actually added to my website the coordinates for my location for carrier pigeons at the bottom, the footer of my website, just because I can. I’m like, “No one else is doing that.” Maybe someday I will have a bird show up, but for now it will be a dream.

Amy Mayes:

I like it.

Jenn T Grace:

This has been a really fun interview, I’m so happy that you agreed to come on the show, and I’m so happy to be featuring not only somebody that I’ve run into in professional circles but also somebody who actually listens to the show as well. I think that that’s really awesome, so thank you so much for just taking the time out of your day today, and sharing with us your journey.

Amy Mayes:

Thank you so much, this has been amazing, and it’s been an honor to be on your podcast, especially since I listen to it all the time.

Jenn T Grace:

I know, at the gym which I always want to know where people are, which is awesome, at the gym.

Amy Mayes:

Yup.

Jenn T Grace:

Thank you so much.

Amy Mayes:

Thank you.

Jenn T Grace:

Alright, as always thank you so much for taking the time out of your day today to listen to the show, I really, really appreciate it. I would love if you would reach out to me and just tell me a little bit more about yourself; why you’re listening to this, where you’re listening to this, any information. I just genuinely want to hear from you. So even if my audience grows to 60,000 from the 6,000 it is right now, I still want to hear from you because you are the reason why I keep producing content on a regular basis. So if you liked today’s episode, chances are you might like some of the past episodes as well. So feel free to head on over to the podcast at www.JennTGrace.com/thepodcast and you can check out a whole backlog of information of all the past shows. And then also you can go to www.JennTGrace.com/45 and that is for today’s episode with Amy where I have all of her contact information listed, all of the things that we talked about on the show, all listed there right and easy for you.

So I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and I look forward to touching base with you again in just a couple of weeks. Thanks so much and have a great day.

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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