A view on CMO and Photographer Vickie Gray
Vickie Gray has been a legal marketing professional for 25 years, the past 8 have been spent as the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) for Ober Kaler, a firm based in Baltimore, Maryland. As a marketer with a keen eye for images, she recognized she enjoyed the visual process and decided to pursue her passion of photography more meaningfully. We caught up with Vickie to find out a little bit about her life and her view on life. Here’s what she had to say…
What do you enjoy most about what you do professionally in your work?
Education and training. It’s rewarding to see someone (especially a highly educated professional) “get” something about marketing that just a few weeks before had been total Greek to him or her.
What is the best business and/or leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
When I started my first legal marketing job, one of the partners (Professor Larry Gibson) said to me, “Only work with the lawyers who want to work with you. They will respond to your efforts and make you look good. Don’t try to work with lawyers who aren’t interested in marketing. You will never make marketers out of them and they will waste your time.”
What do you feel are the biggest challenges still facing women professionally?
Just last week I sat in a planning meeting for an annual trade show for a local business organization. Everyone brainstormed for an hour about keynote speakers and panelists. Steve Case! Kevin Plank! All the names mentioned were middle-aged white men. I finally had to ask if diversity was a priority. Seriously? I find myself constantly reminding others at meetings and planning sessions that we need to consider gender (and other) diversity. In 2015, this is a little discouraging.
What is your hobby/passion? About four years ago I took a serious interest in photography.
When did you first discover you had a talent and interest for photography? As a marketer I work with images all the time. I realized that I developed a critical eye and strong opinions on what photos moved me, and what were quality photos. From there I got the urge to produce my own images.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
Developing my individual style and “voice.” I work hard to create photos that have a certain look and feel, and that evoke an emotion in the viewer. Some of my friends have started posting their own “Vickie-style” photos to social media, which is flattering and encouraging.
When did you decide to take it from casual past-time to serious hobby?
I am in the process of moving in with my longtime boyfriend (local wine and food expert Al Spoler). The thought of not having my own space after living on my own for years made me a little panicky. I searched on craigslist for downtown art studios and found a fabulous place in the Graffiti Warehouse in Station North. After the deal was done I thought, holy cow, a studio. I better get cracking!
Street and candid scenes. People. Faces. Social observations. Life on a small scale. The human touch in almost everything. Now that I have a studio, I look forward to experimenting with lighting, props, and fine art images. And I always enjoy doing head shots and professional portraits.
What has been the biggest challenge to pursuing your passion?
Most photographers have difficulty finding time to shoot. I have to make an effort to schedule time for photography sessions. However, my career is established and I have a lot of control over my schedule, so this isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of taking good pictures, read Vickie’s four PRO tips for anyone looking to have a better outcome when being photographed by clicking here.
When you are not working or taking pictures, how do you like to spend your time?
I am an avid supporter of women’s causes, and a sucker for any “women in…” event or program. I’m currently the president of the Women’s Exchange in Baltimore, where I’m working with a small but incredible group of board members and volunteers. I have two Scottish terriers that I hang out with as much as possible. I spend quite a bit of time with Al at wine tastings and farm-to-table dinners, and we try to travel as much as we can.
What is your favorite food and why?
Chopped salad. It’s easy, healthy and you can put anything in it you like. Sascha’s on Charles Street has the best in town.
What are some of your favorite causes and why?
In addition to women’s causes, I sponsor two children (in Ecuador and in Mexico) through Children International. I am a pet lover, so ASPCA and Maryland SPCA are important to me. I also support Planned Parenthood, though recent events are a bit troubling.
What is your definition of success?
Not having to ask for permission OR forgiveness.
Where can people contact you to find out more about your art and/or photography services?
Visit my online portfolio at www.vickiegrayimages.com.
About Vickie J. Gray
Chief Marketing Officer, Ober|Kaler
Artist/Photographer, Vickie Gray Images
For 25 years Vickie has helped people build and maintain successful relationships and solid careers. A recognized leader in the legal marketing field, she’s held senior positions at prominent law firms in Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Technology is an important part of her job. She has developed numerous websites, blogs, databases and microsites, as well as has trained dozens of lawyers in social media and online marketing. Because Vickie’s had so many supportive friends along the way it is important to her to offer the same help to others, so she volunteers with workforce development nonprofits and similar agencies that help women succeed in the workplace. Outside the office she’s a photographer, specializing in portrait, milestone, candid and street photography. A native Baltimorean, she finds some of her favorite subjects among the streets and neighborhoods of our city. To view her photography, visit her online portfolio by clicking here.