Gillian Ellis

Kate Vontaine


The first time I met Gillian, I just knew we were going to be besties.


We are both Art History majors who found careers outside of the art world, but nerd out over every new artist we discover. Gillian is a fantastic photographer, the blogger behind Coastal Bride, and the founder of Charleston Blog Society (of which I am a proud member.) She’s also a kickass kiteboarder!



She tells us how she and her father built a successful photography business in Charleston's crowded wedding market, while simultaneously launching a popular wedding blog.


We sat down at the magical Cafe Medley over acai bowls to chat about her Boss Lady Job(s).



Being that we both come from the art world, what lead you here?


I thought I wanted to be an art museum curator. After working on an extended project with multiple art galleries, I was burnt out and randomly took an internship with a wedding photographer. I completely fell in love with the emotions and beauty of a wedding day. After my college graduation, my Dad and I went into business together and he has taught me everything I now know about photography. (He just happens to be a stellar photojournalist and war photographer.) My wedding blog stemmed from my interest in sharing wedding inspiration and connecting with others in the industry.



How did you get your start?


Just work hard and get your work featured in as many places as possible.



What is the best piece of advice you ever got?


My parents taught my sister and I that we should choose a major in something we are passionate about, not what we think we will find a job in. I majored in Art History and enjoyed it more that any other topic in school. Life figures itself out in the end, and that’s definitely been true for me!



Was there a moment of panic when you decided you didn’t want to be what you had always thought you wanted to be?


When I was a kid, I wanted to be Britney Spears, who didn’t? I was Communications major and I wanted to be a newscaster, but I’m really shy so it didn’t work. What I like about photography is that you work with people on an intimate level. I really enjoy making people look and feel good, and that’s what I hope to achieve with my photography. But I never planned to work for myself and that definitely freaked me out a little in the beginning.


a selection from Gillian's gorgeous Instagram account @coastalbride



What has been your greatest professional hurdle?


Learn your equipment and your industry. As a photographer you need to always be able to think on your feet.



Are there any personal hurdles in relation to your work?


When you work for yourself you work a lot, and it can be difficult to separate “work” from free time. It’s especially difficult for me because I love what I do!



What’s your spirit animal?


Dolphin – I kiteboard and all I want is to be in the water 100% of the time!



Check out Gillian’s website, her swoon-worthy blog and follow her on Instagram!



Headshot by Richard Ellis of Ellis Photo Studio