Photo Credit: Terra Sura Photography
Meet Sharri Keller, a Minnesota-based photographer in the business of capturing life’s special moments! In addition to running a successful photography business, Sharri is chasing her passions in other areas of her life as well. From medicinal plants to astrology and somatic yoga collaborations, this multi-passionate entrepreneur isn’t afraid to go after her dreams. Keep reading to learn more about Sharri’s journey into entrepreneurship!
Tell us about Terra Sura Photography.
Terra Sura Photography reflects the spirit of people, weddings, events, families, business, and branding. Co-creating in just the right light to showcase the essence of life through relaxed, natural stunning imagery. In addition to people, Terra Sura Photography offers a Foraging Blog featuring Minnesota’s medicinal and edible plants as well as offering herbal consultations, plant walks and medicine making classes.
On the side and close to my heart…I launched a product line, Astoria Rising Botanicals and became part of a group called Metacine which designs experiences which maximize the healing benefits of yoga, plants, and music. Based off the pattering of the four seasons as each season has a particular theme to tune into and plants to support us.
“The Metacine dream is for all of us to feel empowered in our own unique paths towards wellness through a combination of yoga, plant medicine, and music. Through somatic learning experiences inspired by the seasons, we deepen the connection between nature and our bodies. As we tap into the wisdom of the earth with self-care practices, we show up more fully in ourselves, relationship, and community.”
The Early Days
Describe your childhood in one word.
Describe your childhood personality in one word.
When you were a little girl what career did you dream of having “when you grow up”?
Skyscraper window washer. Weird I know but wanted to be high up.
What was your first job?
Babysitter & clerk at car wash
The Learning Years
Where did you attend college?
Started at St. Thomas University but decided it wasn’t for me and went on to complete a two year Associate in Arts Degree at Century College.
What was your first job out of college?
Bio-Gaurd Plastics as an Office Manager.
List your jobs until you started your own business.
An assistant for lawyer, waitress, bartender, office manager for Biogaurd, and Co-Owner of Satori Photography.
The Entrepreneurial Years
What year did you decide to start your own business?
Why did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
After working for a company that owed me $8,000 in back pay and had some internal issues that are too deep to get into, I decided I didn’t want my life to be dictated by others and that I want to wake up in the morning feeling excited about what I was doing with my life. My coworker/friend and I decided to leave the company and reclaim our happiness. We knew we loved photography and travel so we decided to venture out without a concrete plan and with the compass of our hearts. We spun the globe and it landed on Costa Rica. Each packed one bag and went in on our first DSL camera together. For over a month in Costa Rica, we lived each day with fresh inspired eyes and fell in love with freedom and photography. Upon returning home, we rented a shared studio with other photographers who so graciously shared their knowledge with us (forever grateful) and did a lot of trial and error to come into our own style of photography. That and a lot of bartending to pay the bills.
My husband also encouraged me to follow my dreams and start my own business. He is a teacher and musician and had a passion that filled his cup and inspired me to have a similar love for vocation/work.
How is your business different today than when you first started?
I started my first photography business called Satori Photography with a partner and as of 2015 we went in separate directions and I now own Terra Sura Photography. The biggest difference besides wearing all the hats solo now is that I have more experience, better equipment and more confidence in who I am and how I relate to others. Also collaborating with others and creating synthesized experiences.
What three lessons have you learned running your own business?
- Meet self where I am at and take steps from there. The more I feel clear with who I am and where I am at, the more authentic I am able to show up.
- Outsource things that are too stressful (such as bookkeeping in my case)
- Partnerships are like a marriage. So many benefits, but take work at maintaining a healthy balance.
What’s next for your business? Top 3 goals.
- Create an updated vision on my website/social media to attract clients who share a similar appreciation for life, family, work, and the planet.
- Personal art projects which will highlight people who share a remembrance of their true nature in relation to the planet as well as altar series.
- Currently studying astrology and will be incorporating that into my work someday, somehow.
What’s your strongest skill set that’s helped you succeed?
I would say it is my relaxed nature and that I am hardworking and care about what I do. I sincerely want to serve people and bring joy to their lives long after our session is over
On this journey, who have been your three most supportive people?
- All my family who have encouraged and supported me directly or indirectly through the help of babysitting!
- My dear friend and ex-business partner Vanessa Carrara. We grew so much together and are better people having moved through challenges and coming out the other end closer. I have learned so much from her and appreciate the windows of inspirations she has shared with me.
- Karl & Wendy Bloomseth who first took Vanessa and me under their wing and shared with us the basics of photography and studio lighting. Fun loving generous souls.
The Bumps in the Road
Have you had any hardships or setbacks in your business or personal life and how did you overcome them?
So many bumps. But will just share a big one here, business partner breakup.
Working together with someone for 10+ years and being one of my dearest friends we sort of fell into a pattern of using each other and crutches as we gravitated towards our strengths. My biz partner had great people skills, made everyone laugh, was the “face” of business and blog. With my introverted nature, I preferred to do most of the photographing and postproduction work behind the scenes. She had aspirations to grow and lead a team of some sort and her creative visionary skills needed to be put to use more and I was comfortable with where we were at and had desires to branch into photographing areas that were “off the brand”. We inevitably wanted to honor each others path and went in separate directions. Was a very tough time with a whole spectrum of feelings. She and her husband ended up opening a restaurant in Minneapolis and she got to lead a team of people and put her exceptional creative skills to work.
It was my Saturn return and I was at a low point and had to reinvent myself. I had doubt in myself and my abilities to engage with the world as I wanted my work to have meaning and purpose. I knew I loved photography and wanted to keep doing that but there was more in my heart’s compass to be explored. Having an interest in plants and herbal medicine I officially began my studies in 2015 and started Terra Sura Photography and integrating both worlds. Finding my own rhythm to life, getting out of my comfort zone, facing my fears and following my heart allowed me to rediscover parts of myself that were hidden away. I ended up attracting clients who appreciate the energy I bring into the session. Calm, relaxed, natural and experiential, reflecting the essence of what I see, in people and in plants (now in planets well). Had we never split up, I would have delayed my growth and passions within my soul that I am now so very honored to share with the world.
All About You
Did you always dream of owning your own business or was it a surprise on your career path?
I knew that I preferred to work on my own timeline and set the tone for my life but did not think that I would be a photographer when I was young. At the point when I decided I needed to claim my life, I followed the pull of my heart and here I am.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Walking in nature, foraging, photographing plants, plant blog, teaching about plants, making jewelry, energy & holistic medicine studies, astrology, tarot, just being and soaking in the sun’s rays.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to a very talented and loving man Chris Keller, musician and teacher creating and uplifting the voices of inner-city youth. We met when I was 13 and have been together since for the most part. Many-o-bumps in the road on this train, but always believe the best in each other and allow for growth and to see each other new. We are blessed with a 2-year-old daughter, Shanti Mae who is here with a mission. Very smart, sweet and full of energy. Hoping to have one more child in the next year. Luckily my husband and I have very loving and supportive families which makes a world of difference with work-life balance.
Describe your career path to-date in one word?
Relatives who need support especially in Pine-ridge Reservation
Age you’d like to retire at?
Not sure, I always want to be aligning my work more and more with my heart so not sure if I will ever retire. But would love to retire from the grind by my 60’s.
Travel location on your bucket list?
Iceland, New Zealand, Ireland, Lebanon
Introvert or Extrovert?
Introvert most definitely.
Night owl or early bird?
Night Owl, forced to be an early bird with baby : )
Favorite podcast, YouTube channel, or blog?
Podcast – Medicine Stories, Mindful Parenting in Messy World, HerbRally
Blog – One Willow Apothecary Woolgathering and Wildcrafting
Favorite business book?
Not sure I have a favorite business book, but a book that changed the way I live my life is “Women Who Run with Wolves.”
Favorite business tools?
Lightroom, Photoshop, Quickbooks Online, and Photo Mechanic.
Who are three female entrepreneurs you admire?
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