The Bigger Picture

Piedmont student Sage Shirley begins looking at the bigger picture and puts into action a plan to expand his local photography company into a major multimedia .

“I’ve been starting with my photography company, and building that up gradually,” said Sage Shirley, owner of Sage Shirley Photography. “We’ve been working with different models, locations, and types of photography.”

Shirley spent his childhood in front of the camera, serving as a model for his mother’s photography. As he grew up, he took inspiration from his mother and decided to hone his skills as a photographer. This passion for taking pictures would eventually lead him down the path to becoming a young entrepreneur.

“What really got the company started was Dream Hack,” said Shirley. “I was working with a team of professional photographers from Sweden with better equipment, but many of my photos were on par with theirs. I decided that this was something I could do successfully, and decided to start Sage Shirley photography.”

Dream Hack, on the surface, is an international gaming and fan convention. However, big events like this one, without a set coverage staff, offer opportunities for local media specialists to showcase their work to a large audience. Shirley was one of 13 photographers chosen to work for the Dream Hack coverage department at the Georgia convention.

This offered the opportunity for Shirley to take photos that would prove useful in later advertising for Sage Shirley Photography. Along with event photography, the company also specializes in session photography and often works with models such as Griffin Hanks to create artistic shots.

“He was open to any of the ideas we had to make my vision come to life,” said Hanks. “I was able to be more creative because he was really willing to work with me.”

While things have been going well for the small photography company, Shirley has plans to expand his business, both in reach and production.

“Within the next month, I’ll be launching my LLC,” said Shirley. “This will solidify Sage Shirley Photography as a corporate entity.”

The idea behind this expansion is to grow from a small local company to a multimedia corporation, and the first step to achieving this goal is to determine where the funding will come from.

“Currently, the main thing we’re trying to start is the social media marketing agency,” said Shirley. “The work we want to produce takes money to make, so we need an initial way of funding those projects, and the social media marketing is a consistent and reliable source of income.”

Shirley has expressed the desire to branch out into different areas of media production, including areas such as documentary production. The new corporation that will soon be licensed will become the parent company of smaller agencies such as Sage Shirley Photography and the future social media marketing agency.

“Somewhere down the line, we want several different assets and entities working together to create continuity within one corporation,” said Shirley.

However, such large aspirations are often difficult for one-man operations to undertake. Because of this, the company has begun to network within the community– and even within Piedmont College– to find the skillsets necessary to take Sage Shirley Photography to the next level.

“People have different talents,” said Shirley. “Even if it’s a small talent– just being able to write a decent column, or being able to organize and produce a website– can benefit the company as a whole, and we would love more opportunities to work with them in some way, if not bring them on full time.”

Piedmont student Alyssa Gibbson was approached by Sage Shirley Photography because of her skills in graphic design. Gibbson agreed to design the logo for this new corporation, in exchange for a professional photography session.

“I usually charge $30 for designing, but we worked out a deal where he would take my formal pictures for free in exchange,” said Gibbson.

With so many new plans beginning to unfold and take shape, Shirley needed to choose a name for his new company that would serve as the parent company for Sage Shirley Photography.

“I knew I wanted a mountain as the name,” said Shirley. “I’m from the mountains. The mountains have always been a strong part of who I am, so I wanted my business to be a part of that– to be some sort of mountain, to be strong, to be firm, and to be lasting. So I did some research on different mountains, and I saw the name Elbrus. The name just had power with me, and I just knew it was the one.”

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