Artist of the Month - December 2023
Written by Tony Reverditto (Tony On the Town)
Arts Council Menifee (ACM) has selected photographer, Tiffany O’Malley as the coveted “Artist of the Month” for December 2023.
Tiffany’s love of photography began in high school and has grown over the years as her dream and aspirations became a reality. She graduated from high school in 1988 and went on to study Business at California State University San Marcos. In 2012, she started a career as a sports photographer, specifically men’s water polo. It was during this time that she was nominated for her first award, the International Museum of Sports Award, which was showcased at the International Sports Museum.
In 2014, Tiffany transitioned from sports to portrait photography. As someone who loves people, portraits soon became a favorite specialty of hers. She loves to design and customize each session around her clients’ personality, making each one uniquely their own. According to Tiffany, “Creating treasured moments captured in time is what truly motivates me as an artist.” She has gone on to be a published photographer. Her work was selected as the cover photo for the prestigious Jonathan Club, as well as winning multiple 1st place and Best of Show Awards.
Tiffany also has an affinity for animals and loves to photograph them, especially large cats. In fact, she and her daughter started a side hustle business, an organic pet product company called Pawsitive Pet Organics. The website is in the works, but the products can be accessed on Instagram and Facebook.
In addition to her unique portrait photography, Tiffany loves to travel and when she does, her camera is always in hand. She and her husband, Todd, have two children Brittany and Brendan, and two grand-children, Jameson & Emersyn. She and her hubby often enjoy week-end getaways in the comfort of their beautiful backyard in Southern California. In contrast, they also love the opportunity to board a plane and travel to a land far, far away capturing the simplest of moments. In those moments that she feels its where life truly lives and is always looking forward to the next shutter press. In fact, she has been a photographer for ACM’s Menifee’s Got Talent since 2018.
Tony on the Town recently caught up with Tiffany O’Malley to get more insight on her journey in the world of photography.
1. Was there an exact moment when you first realized that you had an aptitude and passion for photography?
It was in high school when I took my first photography class. It was there that I first fell in love with photography. I remember going to the camera store with my mom to purchase my first Nikon, a Nikon FE-2. I remember loving to learn all aspects of photography. It amazed me to find a subject, frame the image, hit the shutter release on my camera and then bring the film to class and that is where the magic happened; turning a moment into an actual image on photographic paper. It was amazing to me to see the entire process and realize that the moment had passed but it had been captured for all to see and enjoy. I have always been a perfectionist and a visual and creative person and the art of photography seemed to suit me best.
2. Did you ever imagine that you would make a career out of photography?
Not at all. After high school, I attended college where I majored in business/finance. My plan after college was to become a stock broker; which was at a completely different end of the spectrum from photography. After college I met the love of my life and we were married (30 years this year) and soon began a family. After our daughter, Brittany was born, I began my greatest honor of being a stay-at-home mom. My aspirations of becoming a stock broker were willingly placed on hold so I could focus 100% on my family. During this time, we welcomed our son, Brendan. When my son began his adventure in high school, I decided to pick up a camera to photograph his sport of water polo and also utilize the camera for capturing family memories. It was soon after that I realized that the camera was more than a tool to bring out at family events but it soon became an extension of myself. Picking up a camera so many years after high school felt like a bit of a homecoming. It was then that I felt that photography could be definitely be the start of something amazing.
3. You mention that you love capturing the emotion of the person you are photographing. Can you give a specific example of how you design and customize a session?
Absolutely. I always love to meet with my clients beforehand to gain insight to their personalities and desires for our session. I feel this is an integral part as it sets the foundation. During this time we also select a location. I prefer all of my clients to have unique sessions, so I usually don’t photograph the same location twice unless it’s a desired location chosen by my client. Then during the session, I don’t limit our time as I never want my clients to feel rushed. I have found that when time is not an issue, people are more at ease. As an example, when working with high school seniors we chat a lot about their interests. It helps to take the focus away from the camera and move the focus toward our conversation. I find that doing this allows them to relax more. Their comfort level can always been seen and felt in photographs and it is in these moments where my camera is clicking nonstop. I like to say this is where the magic happens. This is what motivates me as a photographer and this is the reason… I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER.
4. Where is your all-time favorite place that you have photographed?
It is a very difficult choice as I have so many favorite places, but if I had to choose, I’d say my all-time favorite place that I have photographed so far has been a simple cobblestone walkway framed with cafes in Paris. It was there, that I felt like I was in a movie, capturing the essence of a French city as I stood with my camera in hand. It felt as if the view though my viewfinder was something I’d only seen in the cinema. It felt extraordinary to be standing somewhere I’d only
dreamed of being. Those moments are what excites me to travel as a photographer. It is an honor to capture the beauty in our world as there is so much to see and feel.
5. Which is your most cherished photo?
Photos from my humble beginning as a photographer are a great reminder of where I began and to see the growth I’ve achieved over time. I will chose one photograph that may not be my most cherished (as it’s nearly impossible to choose) but it is a photograph that I feel emotionally launched my photography career. It was a photograph I took in the beginning, it was one of my son playing water polo. I was at this time getting a lot of positive feedback regarding my ability to capture the emotions of players, I had decided to build a website showcasing some of my water polo shots along with a few portrait sessions I had done. Once the website was built I decided to reach out to one of the best Olympic sport photographers in the world, Jeff Cable. To my complete and utter surprise, he responded!! He said he would be more than happy to view my website and provide feedback. I was silent. I nervously obliged him by providing my website link. It was then, I thought there is no turning back now. His feedback may be the start or end of my photography career. He soon responded with a very detailed response. He was very complimentary saying that I was a talented photographer &; had a great eye. He then gave feedback on all of my water polo shots. He complimented each and every one with one exception. He said there was only one that he would consider removing from my website and it was at that time, one of my most cherished photos. Before I knew it, I was responding back with words of opposition. I completely disagreed with his comments and made sure to tell him why. It was then I found myself fighting for my capture, my work, and my belief in myself as a photographer.
After I hit send, I thought for a moment that I had disagreed with one of the most talented sport photographers ever! It was too late to have regret as the words had been sent. He then responded with the words that launched my photography career. He said he and his wife often disagree about their favorite images, and he always stands up for his. He continued to say to never lose my belief in my work and to always fight for my images. He then said you are going to do wonderful things in photography! It was then that I knew that my photography path had been chosen and I was on the right path after all.
6. Do you have any future aspirations or goals with your photography career?
Absolutely. I feel that I have daily aspirations to become a better photographer each and every day. There is so much I have yet to learn and I feel that is such an important part of my job as a photographer. It helps ensure to my clients that I have the desire to learn, grow and become better. I feel even the most talented should always remain humble in knowing they have so much yet to learn. That is what allows us to excel beyond our own expectations. The most important goal of my photography career is to use my talent to make a positive difference. I would love the opportunity utilize my skills to bring focus to animals in need and also find ways to ensure that my clients love themselves more after being photographed. I want people to find
the beauty in themselves by accepting their uniqueness. We are all created differently and I’d like to be part of making that the norm, for people to embrace their differences and be proud of who they are, without placing so much focus on what is thought to be beautiful. I would love to be someone that uses their talent for good. As we know life can be difficult and having the self confidence in loving who we are and being the voice to those that cannot speak for themselves is the beginning of making a positive difference overall.
7. How can potential clients contact you to book a photo session?
They can connect with me directly at 951-837-0662, message me through my website www.tiffanyomalleyphotography.com or connect through social media at www.facebook.com/tiffanyomalleyphotography or www.instagram.com/tiffanyomalleyphotography