Today we’d like to introduce you to Karla Grzymala.
Hi Karla, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Who would have thought that a small photo studio in a NY apartment would ignite such a passion for the arts in a little four-year-old girl? See, my dad had his own darkroom set up in our apartment in New York City and I was his photo assistant. I would stand there and agitate the photos as they developed in front of my eyes. My dad was always taking photos and painting or drawing, and I always wanted to watch how he made things. I always loved art, and that really came through when I got to high school. I took all the art classes and video production classes that I could. It made me want to be in school and really got me through all the struggles that a teenager goes through. In college, I was taking photography as an elective choice, and my professor said that I had an eye for it and that she would encourage me to become a photographer. Her support and constant positive critique made me look into a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Photography. I found a program that allowed me to finish my degree in Advertising and Photography, and it was the start to where I am today. I have my little photography and social media company that has allowed me to have a creative outlet for everyday life. I had so many amazing teachers in my life that never quit on me, and that really pushed me to be the best version of myself that I could be. I also wanted to do that for others, so I got my teaching certification and am a Visual Art teacher. I have been able to give back to my students what my teachers and professors gave to me. I encourage my artists to be the best versions of themselves they can be and tell them every day to “Be a GOOD Human” as they walk out the door. My husband has been the biggest support these last few years. He is always encouraging me to push forward and to keep building my business. We both have such an entrepreneurial spirit. Also, I have to add how much my mom has encouraged me to follow my dreams. She is my number one fan and instilled a strong work ethic in me. She was my role model growing up and is a huge reason I have been able to have the career I do. All of these life experiences have kept me going every day, have filled my heart, and contributed to who I am today.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been an easy road to get to where I am. My parents thought I was crazy to pursue a degree in the arts and worried that I would struggle. I did, finding a job in advertising and photography was not easy, and is still not easy because we are in such a competitive market. I worked in a little mall studio right out of college to get enough money to pay the bills. I also worked as an intern for minimum wage and tried to get my foot in the door any way I could. I had to do a lot of research and free photoshoots to build my portfolio and start building my clientele. Little by little, my friends started asking me to photograph their engagements, weddings, babies, and they paid me for it. My husband and I LOVE food, we are total foodies, and this is what started my interest in social media and branding. I started getting small jobs photographing food and helping small businesses with their brand and social media sites. This rolled into getting clients through word of mouth, and the rest is history. I love that I can do what I am passionate about every day and that I am able to continue to grow, though I am still not where I want to be, but working hard to get there.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
In my photography, I specialize in people, food, and travel. I have a collection of travel photography that my husband and I take when we are in new places. I also love photographing my client’s important moments in their lives. It is so funny because when I think of what I am most proud of, it comes down to my teaching. I teach my students to use their art to find their voices. I am always encouraging them to make art that speaks to their communities. We have created murals that have meaning, and the one that stands out the most was only on a wall for a few hours before it was changed into something else. That was the beauty of Castle Hill in Austin. Art is ever-changing. When the Parkland shooting happened in Florida, we were right in the middle of designing a mural we were making just for fun. I asked them how we could change our design to honor Parkland and we had a good artist friend of mine JJ Muzacz help us design something more powerful than we could imagine. Since then, we have transformed our school into a beautiful space that has large murals, paintings, and art all over the school walls. I got Teacher of The Year right before the pandemic due in part to how we continue to beautify the school and share art with our community. I am proud of my photography business, but even more proud of the work I do with my students.
What were you like growing up?
I was a good kid that loved the arts. I struggled in school but being an artist and all the activities we did in Art Club is the only reason I did not give up in high school.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.karlaraphail.com
- Instagram: @atxphoto_karla @raphail_photography
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kraphailphoto