May 2020

Ep. #1: From Homeless to Happy with Christopher J. Hall [PODCAST]

6 min read

In episode #1 of Find Your Focus, photographer Christopher Hall shares his powerful story of resilience and creativity despite overwhelming odds.

Homeless to Happy:

One photographer’s journey to optimism and success

Feat. Christopher Hall

Episode #1 show notes

Welcome to the first episode of the Find Your Focus podcast with ShootProof and Logan Fahey. Each week, you’ll hear inspiring stories and pro tips from our guests to help you on your journey with photography.

Joining us today is Chris Hall, a professional photographer who we simply had to invite on the show after we heard his incredible story. Through a series of traumatic events, Chris found himself homeless and desperate, but he found happiness again—thanks to photography and a caring friend.

In today’s show

In 2011, after tremendous health struggles, Chris found himself in the hospital with doctors predicting he had less than a week to live. Miraculously, Chris recovered, but he endured homelessness and battled addiction until his life changed forever after a church friend gave him a remarkable gift: a camera.

In today’s show, Chris shares how he grew his dream of being a photographer into a life-saving, life-changing, full-time business. You’ll hear about his journey with photography, how he borrowed equipment and slowly built a name for himself, and how he evolved from shooting stock photography to family portraits, weddings, and more.

Chris reveals how he developed his style, how anyone can get started with entry level equipment, the love and reception is work has received, and the importance of keeping your creative juices flowing. He also discusses the necessity of smart pricing, and the value of doing the occasional free photo shoot—because you never know who might show up in front of your camera. Finally, Chris examines how feelings of giving up can’t exist without something or someone to give up on, which became his reason to remain grateful and motivated.

Tune in and learn how it’s never too late to change your life, and how photography helped Chris Hall change his!

Key moments in this episode

  • The story of Chris going to the hospital and finding he had three to six days to live
  • Getting out of the hospital, struggling with work, and ending up homeless
  • How Chris felt about photography as a dream job through his hard times
  • Chris’s experience of homelessness and different rehabs and shelters after being discharged
  • The blessing Chris got from a church friend who gave him a camera after he left rehab
  • Using friends’ equipment and library computers until Chris finally got his own laptop
  • The challenge of being homeless and having people reject you
  • Chris’s initial strategy of thinking of things to photograph for image libraries
  • Moving to photographing families from church and the challenge kids present
  • Chris’s initial hesitation to shoot weddings and how he got into that niche
  • How Chris’s lack of wedding photography experience made his first wedding pictures unique
  • The fortune Chris found in the wedding photography niche with clients loving his work
  • Lessons learned on the street and Chris’s strategy to keep his work affordable
  • Opportunities that can come from doing headshots of people who could become celebrities
  • Homelessness to photography: remembering that you don’t know how things will turn out
  • Remembering that one doesn’t need the fanciest equipment or training to get going
  • How much more you learn by starting out with entry-level equipment
  • The importance of having one’s own style and not copying trends
  • Not realizing that one’s style is unique until somebody recognizes it
  • Keeping creativity flowing and how Chris has endured the hard times in his work


“My ex-wife at the time, she actually wanted me to get a hobby and decided to buy me a camera, and so I had done it a little bit before, and it was one of those sorts of dream things. I thought it would be really great to actually do it full-time.” — Christopher Hall [0:04:23]

“I was given this camera. I thought, ‘Right, I’m going to do it,’ and went for it. I didn’t have a job to go to or anything. I just went, ‘Right, I’m going to set myself up as a photographer,’ and did it.” — Christopher Hall [0:07:16]

“When I was living on the streets, all of those people walking past me I doubt would have even looked at me saying, ‘He is going to be a photographer owning his own business.’ ” — Christopher Hall [0:17:30]

“I think if you don’t have days where you want to give up, possibly something is wrong, because the days where you want to give up actually should be making you realize you’ve got something to give up.” — Christopher Hall [0:24:29]

Links mentioned in today’s episode

Christopher Hall
Christopher Hall on Instagram
Cole’s Classroom

Listen to more episodes of Find Your Focus HERE or wherever you get your podcasts.

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