Part II in a series profiling the women-owned vendors featured at the Birchtree Catering Supper Club at New Century Trust on International Women's Day, 08 March 2017.
Name of Business: BG Productions Photography & Videography
Official Title: Cathie Berrey Green, Owner/Lead Photographer
Years in Business: 10 years
Size of Business: husband and wife team, with five regular contract workers
Percent of women employees: 50%
What part do women play in your business? Main second photographer and main office person who is also a photographer
What drew you to photography?
I’ve always been into photography. My dad gave me a Canon AE-1 35mm film camera for my high school graduation. I took some photography classes in college, but never thought of majoring in it. I used to develop film in community darkrooms. After meeting Al [Green, Cathie’s husband and Owner of Flat World Media Productions], I made the switch to a basic digital camera. I had done a few photo stints for friends’ weddings and then Al gave me a DSLR for our wedding. For our anniversary, we went on a cruise at a time people didn’t have cell phone cameras. This couple exchanging vows on the ship had no one to capture their moment so I grabbed my camera and sent them photos of their ceremony for free. Al was like, “why aren’t you doing this?” I made a portfolio, I was working as a school teacher at the time, and I put an ad on Craigslist and started putting myself out there. I got my first gig and kept adding and adding. I love to capture nature and details. We travel a lot and specialize in travel photography and videography.
What was the best piece of advice, business or otherwise, that you were given when starting out?
There never really was any but my personal philosophy is you only get one life, it’s up to you what you do with it. What I want is to make it the best it can be for Al and me. That philosophy extends to our work. We place people over profits. We don’t want to be part of the wedding industrial complex. We use life lessons to guide us and always come back to what it was like when we were getting married, small and intimate. We like to work with people that we would want in our lives and will turn down clients if they aren’t a personality match. Since we work out of our home, with an office and a room designated specifically to meeting clients, we really get to know our people. We’ve made a reputation for building these amazing relationships with our clients.
What is your favorite thing about your workplace?
Hanging out with the dog and cat and getting to stay in pajamas all day. We’ll get dressed for a client meeting and then it’s straight back to comfy clothes. This is a balance to our busy season when we’re gone a lot. I do all of the photo editing, always at night, with some goofy show playing in the background. I use all Nikon equipment and Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop when needed.
The "A Day Without A Woman" March in front of New Century Trust I Photograph by BG Productions
What makes your photography stand out?
I’m drawn to the human side and like to tell a story with my photos. I concentrate on the emotion. These are real people being affected by policy, budget cuts, changing laws. I like to be actively engaged with my photos, not just an observer documenting. We don’t want to be a part of the ugliness out there, we want to be a part of beauty and acceptance. We invest in businesses that are good, and if you are not aligned with what we believe, we really don’t want to hang out with you all day and shoot your wedding. At the Women’s March in DC, we heard someone calling out, “Cat! Al!” and saw one of our clients with her mother. We take a stand because our clients take a stand. I was a history teacher that taught very radical views of history, intersectionality conversation is about all women and inclusivity. We need to make sure we’re not just telling one side of the story, one side of history. Recently, I've been working as a photographer with The Loving Project, a podcast profiling multi-racial couples to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 ruling allowing mixed-race marriage in America.
What woman has been your biggest inspiration?
My mom grew up in a family of ten, very poor outside of Richmond, VA. Her father, a first generation Romanian gypsy, died when she was five. Mom picked cotton and tobacco and later went on to gain a masters degree and become a mental health worker. She always let me be who I am and spent my thirtieth birthday with me on a logging road in Idaho. The freedom she gave me to be who I want to be is very much ingrained in my work.