The next Woman Who Wows is Vickie Gray, a portrait and headshot photographer based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Before she started her photography career she spent more than 25 years as a legal marketer, managing the reputation, brand and external image of high-profile law firms in DC, Philadelphia, NYC and Miami as well as Baltimore.
Because she’s had so many supportive friends along the way it is important to offer the same help to others, so Vickie volunteers with workforce development nonprofits and similar agencies that help women succeed in the workplace.
She is a past-president of the Women’s Exchange; former board member of Maryland New Directions; and served on the board of the Legal Marketing Association’s Capital Chapter from 2009-2012.
Her photography pro bono projects include work with Marian House and Portraits for Patriots.
What do you love most about what you do?
My clients! Every person who contacts me is a new experience. I love learning about their goals and their careers. Some folks are excited to be photographed, some are nervous. Either way, I try hard to make every session fun. I’m highly collaborative, so the more ideas and input they have, the better.
Even more rewarding is the editorial and nonprofit work I do. I am able to put my values into action, photographing themes of diversity, accountability and service to the community. I put my heart into all my work.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
I am totally in awe of my great-nieces who are in their teens and twenties. They are authentic, engaged, honest and socially responsible. I love that they respect all people, refuse to accept stereotypes and encourage their peers to be comfortable with their identities. Their generation gives me hope.
Do you have a mentor?
No, I never did, and I wish I had. I mentored many young professionals during my legal marketing career, both informally and as part of LMA’s mentoring program when I was a member of the then-Capital chapter. It would be great to have a photography mentor. I’ve had to learn everything on my own. I navigate a lot of mansplaining and competitiveness. It’s lonely at times and nowhere near as collegial as the legal marketing profession is.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
In my first law firm marketing job (back in the 1990s when the field was brand new), I worked with an administrator who was a little threatened by me and quite territorial. I thought she was a pain in the neck, always checking on how I was doing certain things and offering unsolicited advice.
I complained about it to my mother one day and she said, “I know this lady is difficult, but she’s been there a long time and she can probably teach you a couple of things. You should try to at least listen to her.” So I did, and as usual Mom was right. Turns out I didn’t have all the answers.
What is a surprising/fun fact about you?
I am obsessed with Cuba and have visited there five times in the past five years. First as part of a “people to people” tour, where I connected with several travelers from Minnesota Public Radio.
Through those relationships, I became involved with several organizations: the Cuban American Youth Orchestra (www.cayomusic.org), a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational and performance opportunities for student and pre-professional musicians from the US and Cuba through workshops, arts delegations, and cultural exchanges, and La Ruta de Mozart, a day of international celebration and performance of the complete string quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the old city of Havana, Cuba.
I now travel regularly to Cuba, photographing the concerts, rehearsals, educational seminars and networking that help these organizations accomplish their missions. I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal and am proud to be part of these small but powerful efforts.
What is your definition of success?
Not having to ask for permission OR forgiveness.
Learn more about Women Who Wow and read the profiles of all of the women featured in the series.