LOWNDES COUNTY – The Georgia Photography Fanatic (TGPF) is a locally owned business by husband and wife team, Jay and Erin Blanton.
TGPF is a photography business that specializes in aerial and landscape photos. They are highly regarded for the quality of the photos they take, and even have a Facebook page dedicated to their photography. Recently, the Blantons received a FAA Class D and Class E airspace waiver. This waiver allows the Blantons to legally fly drones commercially in Valdosta airspace, which includes Downtown Valdosta. But like many other businesses in the area, The Georgia Photography Fanatic didn’t become successful overnight, in fact they had quite the humble beginning.
It all began for the Blantons back in 2005 when Jay started his own wedding videography business. Unfortunately, this business only lasted about three years due to the economy crash of 2008, where a lot of small businesses like Jay’s wedding videography company went under.
However, this wasn’t the end of the story for the Blantons.
He enrolled in Wiregrass Technical College where he studied Cybersecurity and Computer Networking. After graduating from Wiregrass, Jay landed a job with the Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2015. One of Jay’s many duties at the Boys & Girls Club was photographing various sporting events.
“They had the camera where I could take pictures of these sporting events that ‘ignited’ my love for photography. I was really never into it before this,” said Jay.
While employed at the Boys & Girls Club, Jay used a DSLR camera to take sports photos. His pictures looked so good that Jay decided to try the camera out on landscapes. His pictures were amazing, so much so, that people would try and buy his photos, but Jay just gave the pictures away. However, Erin noticed they could probably do this as a part time job rather than just a hobby.
“The tipping point was when we sold about 20 digital photos for $50, but then later found out that person paid thousands of dollars to have prints and canvases made. We knew then we needed to capitalize on his talents!” said Erin.
That got the Blantons thinking of how they could turn this hobby into a photography business.
After seeing the opportunities that he and his wife were missing out on, Jay bought his own camera in 2016. He began to take photos and sell the rights to those photos. While taking these landscape photos Jay learned of a new type of toy; the drone. And in fact, when Jay was younger, remote control vehicles were one of his passions.
“I used to attach this flip phone to my remote control vehicle, fly it around my yard, and record videos” said Jay.
When Jay had finally earned enough money from selling the rights to the photos he took with the DSLR, and when the drone cameras improved, the Blantons purchased their first drone in 2017. A couple of months later Jay got a business license and became certified under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. This allowed him to take even more amazing, birds eye view photos of beautiful landscapes.
Coupling his love of both photography and radio controlled aircraft, Jay was able to boost the success of their small business. They have become so successful that Erin said “If in 10 years, we can get to a place where we can just do photography and nothing else, I would be fine with that.”
For more information about The Georgia Photography Fanatic or to see more of Jay’s amazing work, visit their Facebook page.