Elaine Fancy on Carrying Her Own Weight as a Creative Entrepreneur


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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For as long as she can remember, Elaine Fancy always knew she was going to pursue an artistic career. Today, she’s one of Canada’s most dynamic photographers in the industry, powered by her own agency and a slate of tools such as Microsoft Surface. But when she first began shooting photos, it was merely a way to explore her artistic interests. She initially fell in love with black and white photography while attending school in the U.S. She attended for the academy’s soccer program but soon discovered a darkroom on campus that would propel her into what has since become a fully-realized dream and a successful photography career.

“When I found the darkroom, I instantly wanted to learn photography,” says Fancy. “It’s like a switch flipped. When I was looking for universities, soccer was still very much at the front of my mind, but suddenly, photography became such a core interest. […] I ended up getting into a very competitive program – they only accept 52 students out of a massive pool of applicants. So, I thought, ‘Maybe this is my calling.'”

Years later, it’s clear that Fancy’s intuition was right.

She’s since combined this long-time love of sports and photography, taking on projects with the Leafs and Raptors as she embarked on her freelancing career. Eventually, Fancy leveraged her freelancing success into launching an agency of her own in 2018 called Ripple Media Group. Compiling a small roster of videographers and lighting experts that could help support her burgeoning workload, Ripple Media Group has become a platform to not only accelerate Fancy’s career but uplift the community of creators hoping to follow in her footsteps.

“I have an AV, I have lighting guys, I have sound guys, I have a videographer, and they all do such incredible work,” says Fancy. “And since I work directly with my clients, I have their trust to bring my own team in. It gives me a lot of agency but also a lot of opportunities to bring others along with me. […] The long-term goal is to expand, but right now, I just love being able to trust our team and know we’ll be able to deliver for our clients every single time.”

Always having been a one-woman agency at its core, she brands Ripple as “a group of talented individuals that can deliver a one-stop-shop service for any type of client.”

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But despite finding her passion and building it into a viable business, Fancy explains that she still faces moments of invalidation as a woman in the industry.

“The expectations of female photographers are more feminine: maternity, engagement shoots, and then I’ll tell them I just did a shoot with Mark [McMorris] and they’ll be like, ‘What?’,” she recalls. “It made it difficult to establish my work, especially just exiting school. The requirement in studios back in 2010 was that photographers must be able to lift 150 pounds of equipment. And the funniest thing is that I own pretty much everything I’d ever need and nothing weighs more than 30 pounds. It’s arbitrary. So, breaking those biases was a challenge, especially at a young age. But if I can make the path slightly easier for the next woman hoping to break into the industry, then it’s worth it.”

But despite the industry’s discrimination, Fancy’s freelance approach has offered her the agency to build her career the way she always hoped when she first discovered her academy’s darkroom years before. Not bound by stereotypes of politics, Fancy’s clients understand that her work speaks for itself.

“I’m at the point in my career where I can say yes and no to the things I do and don’t want to take on, but that was all driven by sticking to my guns and not putting myself in the box of what was expected,” says Fancy. 

But despite the individuality that has defined her career, Fancy is the first to credit the tools that have helped power her business. As the majority of Fancy’s work is technology-based, she tends to lean on Microsoft products to deliver the best possible results to her clients ahead of tight deadlines. She praises her Surface, her holy grail product and one that is integral in expanding Ripple Media Group. “In the past, I had been looking for an iPad with a pen that I could use Photoshop on and for so years the iPad just didn’t offer that — I’ve been accustomed to my Surface,” she says. “It’s compact […] and offers flexibility when I need to be on the road and working through projects. […] The tools have to be dynamic because that’s just the pace of the industry, so I really rely on my [Microsoft Surface].”

Using tools that reflect the independence and ingenuity that have guided her business, Fancy is developing the roadmap for fellow freelance entrepreneurs – and women, in particular – to follow, whether they’re carrying 150 lbs. of equipment or a 1.5 lbs. Surface.

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