Actually, it found me twice, but the first time I didn't listen.  

First, was in high school, when I took Photography l and ll.  I really loved it.  Taking the photos, the darkroom, all of it.  Like many, I bought a Canon AE1 complete with the 50mm kit lens and started taking lots and lots of pictures, but soon stopped as other things demanded my time, like school and a job.

Fast forward many years - For most of those years I've owned restaurants and when the "Great Recession" hit, in order to stay afloat, I decided to create my own point-of-sale signage for my restaurants.  I thought I would save a little money, and give myself an edge over my competition. I would be able to respond to my competitors changing specials by the next day.  It would work like this, if you put a sign in your window that says "Kid's eat Free on Sundays", the next day I could answer that with "$3.99 Steak Burrito Sundays", or with one of my own creations like the "Three Burrito Bundle for $9.99 plus tax" (which worked great by the way) .  

With my idea in mind, I bought Photoshop, a couple of Photoshop "How-To" books and set out to learn it all (never mind that people normally get four year degrees in this stuff).  In addition, I asked one of my local beverage vendors, who made all their signs for their beverage products, if they wouldn't mind giving me a little info on how to get started.  I only expected a few pointers, but instead, Jon and Marcia were kind enough to invite me to their business and show me the process step-by-step, and for that I am forever grateful.

With my new knowledge I set out to make my masterpieces, but of course there was a learning curve.  Those first signs were, shall we say, uh...not that good.  Sure, my family and friends thought they were great, or at least they lied about it around me, because looking back there are no words to describe how tacky they were...or how proud I was to hang them in the window.  Luckily though, on some level, my idea did work.  I feel it was a big reason why I was able to stay in business in the days when customer counts were almost non-existent.

In 2013, in order to make better signs, I bought a Canon EOS 6D and a 90mm Macro lens and decided I would learn to take photos of my food.  I soon learned it's a little harder than just picking up a camera and clicking the shutter.   

If all this was to work I knew I had to get better FAST, so I enrolled in the UCSD Professional Photographer Certificate program.   The minute I found myself in the first class, that was it, I was hooked again.  This time for good!  I thought, who wants to own restaurants when they can do this?  I knew this was ALL I wanted to do from now on. 

The next few years were a balancing act (only because restaurant work kept getting in the way) as I continued to take Photography courses to earn my certificate, practice my photography and work.  Eventually, eleven courses later, in March 2016 I earned my PPC.  

Today, I still own and shoot photos for my Mexican food restaurant, and now I shoot food photos for a local coupon magazine as well.     

In addition to food photography, I really enjoy street photography, environmental portraiture, hiking, playing with my doggies, real ingredients, simple living and I have to admit I'm hooked on the TV show "Alaska the Last Frontier".  I appreciate old school ways, good movies, good conversation, funny people, and of course, my wonderful husband and my son.  




Teri J. Surratt - Photographer

  • Certificate of Professional Photographer - UCSD

  • Member - Professional Photographers of America

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