Empowerment & Brand Photographer Sandy Grigsby is a force to be reckoned with.
Grigsby began her career as a commercial print model, actress, and spokesmodel. She was originally born in Switzerland and then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area around the tender age of one. Her background is as diverse as her work, being the child of a black and Native American father and a European mother.
"I can't begin to tell you how difficult it was asking my mom things any American mother knew and she looked at me blankly and told me she didn't know. I give her kudos though, as she integrated well and made sure to learn and give us American traditions she had never experienced as a child," is what she expressed about her experiences growing up.
Sandy eventually moved to Los Angeles for College and fell in love with the place because of the well-known culture, creativity, and desirable weather.
After acquiring a degree in Visual Communications, she started her company Brio Five in 2005, which focused mainly on website building. Photography was always a part of her business, as she often photographed client products along with food, animals, travel, and eventually people.
She realized that her passion was for photographing women and bringing out their true essence about two years ago. As a model and actress, she'd experienced a great deal of rejection and as we know that can absolutely tear a person down. Going through what she went through not only made her stronger, but it helped her learn how to prepare and how to operate in front of the camera and behind it.
When she first started pursuing photography as a career it was for the websites she designed, for things such as jewelry, food, clothing, and other products. When her clients began asking her to photograph them she then discovered she enjoyed it more than photographing the inanimate objects.
After photographing many people she realized it was more fun doing that than building websites so the slow transition into photography began. At one point she dabbled in weddings and hated that. Then kids, and hated that more. Then food, and loved that but struggled with getting food accounts.
Eventually, she realized her love for photographing real women, especially women who claimed to "not be photogenic," and who hated being in front of the camera.
Just being able to bring out a woman's confidence by realizing how beautiful she really is – it's hard to describe, but it's so inspiring and it excites me
After being able to photograph women, see how they felt after a shoot, witness the confidence they carried with them afterward, and see their joy, she realized that this was her gift. That's when she changed direction and decided to use her camera as a tool to show a woman's true beauty and power.
She is inspired by seeing women transform during her process to bring their true essence out. Seeing how a woman reacts after she's allowed herself to be her truest self in front of her camera, is mesmerizing.
"Just being able to bring out a woman's confidence by realizing how beautiful she really is – it's hard to describe, but it's so inspiring and it excites me," is how Sandy describes it all. Showing them their final photos and experiencing their reactions literally makes her bloom with joy. "Although I do it for them, I confess it is really much for me. The high I get off of another woman's sheer bliss is addictive and contagious – makes me want to do it again and again and it floods into women wanting others to experience it too!" says Sandy.
Although Sandy has undeniably found her niche, there would be more adversity. Surprisingly, the biggest obstacle to achieving her success would be her own self-doubt. It was something she had to really work hard on.
"I feel that is why I can coach women through a session so well," she says as it relates to her doubt. She had doubts about everything in her life and still does. Sandy had to face them head-on and move them aside so that she could continue her journey.
"We all have doubts about ourselves; how we look, our talents, experiences, skills, ideas, relationships, decisions – all of it. Unless we accept that this is normal and not a fatal flaw in our being we can't move on to bigger and better things," she says. Once she realized this she became unstoppable.
Sandy absolutely realizes that there are times when she may fail (and boy they can be epic ones), but there are more times when there is a success. Failure is a way for us to measure our growth, courage, passion, and grit. Without it, we would be entitled, spoiled, and a hot mess.
"Sometimes I'm slow, sometimes I'm fast. I can be insecure and confident at the same moment but either way, I always get to where I need to be just at the right time that the universe has destined for me. I know, this sounds like some kind of dreamy mumbo jumbo yet when I look back on my life it is all true. So why have doubts? Just keep going and in one way or another, you will succeed."
After brief a return to the Bay Area to take care of her father in hospice, she eventually made her way back to LA and now lives in sunny Santa Monica. So here she is, a woman who found her niche and is making the most of it.
I'm glad I was able to connect with Sandy and hopefully shed some light on what I consider to be a brilliant photographer and a phenomenal woman in business!