Terrence Law has found the perfect combination of right-brain and left-brain exercises through his two companies, TLAW Consulting and TLAW Photography. How does he keep it all balanced? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
TLAW Consulting is a company that works with large utility and energy companies to help solve business problems through critical, innovative and creative thinking. TLAW Photography is an award-winning personality-inspired wedding and portrait photography studio based in Calgary, Alberta. We specialize in unique and fearless wedding photography that defies the ordinary. My passion is in creating images that will make you laugh, smile, hold your breath, and wipe away tears.
One thing we might not know about your business:
As a consultant I spend 90% of my time standing in line for coffee. As a photographer, I spend 90% of my time behind a computer.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
TLAW Consulting was born out of a need to exercise my B. Comm degree that I obtained from the University of Calgary. After working a few years as an employee to a number of consulting firms, I got tired of being managed and working 70 hours a week so I decided that it was time to be my own boss, and for the last eight years I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss. Sometimes my boss is a jerk and doesn’t give me time off.
TLAW Photography was born out of my lifelong love for photography. I took a film photography class as part of a summer camp my parents signed me up for called “Mini-U,” which was a weeklong summer camp of “classes” that we attended at the University. We learned to take photographs on 35mm film SLRs and I can’t recall, but I think we may have even developed the film as well. I took one image while I was doing consulting work in Brussels, Belgium, that really launched my love for photography. It was of a steel elevator structure just outside of the main courthouse that was walking distance from my apartment.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my consulting business is that I never know what type of work will be landing on my plate next. I work on a variety of projects, some of them troubled, which presents its own challenges. Some of them are new and exciting projects that take the organization into uncharted territories. It’s never a dull moment. The most challenging part is that I never know what I’m walking in to. Is this a disaster scenario? What’s the history of this project I’ve been hired to work on with this organization? Will I get along with the people? Is the organizational culture going to have an impact on the work I’ve been asked to perform?
The best part of my day-to-day wedding photography business is being given the keys to be creative and document some pretty amazing moments during what is arguably one of the biggest days a couple will ever experience. You spend the day around happy people who, for that day, have no worries in the world except to celebrate. Capturing real raw emotions and creating art for my clients is one of the most primal things I can do as an artist. The best part is that while I’m photographing a wedding, I don’t have to think about what I’m doing, I just let the wedding day unfold and I move to the beat of the day and document life as it unfolds before me.
This is the perfect combination of right-brain and left-brain exercises.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
I’d like to say that I’d slow down the consulting side of my businesses, but the reality is that this is unlikely to happen. If anything, I’d likely grow the company to provide additional services. TLAW Photography will be operating under the same model in the next five years. It’s counter-intuitive to say that you want a business to remain the same but the way my business is run right now is the way I have always envisioned it. It is a small and exclusive studio that only takes on 10 weddings per year. I operate my studio based on time and attention that I can give to my clients. I want them to know that when they work with me, I will be able to give them all of the attention that they expect and deserve. It’s a luxury service, and with a luxury service comes a niche market. I’m happy to cater to those who love my art. Having said all of that, I think the one change that may take place is that my wife may be joining my team as a photographer, but her focus will be on families and newborns.
What does success look like to you?
Providing a roof over my family’s head, food on our table and time to enjoy all of the great moments that we’ll be spending together. I’m one of the wealthiest people I know – I’ve got one hell of a great family.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
When I first struck out on my own, it was one of the scariest things I’ve done, as with being a contractor, I work on specific events and projects. The most memorable milestone of my career was when I signed my first ever contract under my own company banner. It was one of those “wow, someone actually trusts me” type of moments.
Homegrown in Calgary or transplant from…
Born in Winnipeg but moved to Calgary when I was one. For all intents and purposes, I consider myself a homegrown Calgarian.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
For a number of years, I was a Big Brother in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. Even though I’m no longer a Big Brother, I still support and donate yearly to the program, as I do believe that they provide an extremely valuable service.
Generations of Hope is another charity that I have donated my time to in the past. This is a program that provides financial assistance to families who are facing infertility challenges. This program provides hope to those who would otherwise find assisted reproductive technology financially prohibitive.
What is Notable to you?
Being honest in your work, and being honest with yourself. I heard this quote once, but I’m not sure where so I can’t reference it, but it applies to how I like to run my businesses and, as a result, my life; “Cheat codes don’t work in real life.”
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I’m a gym rat. I go 4-5 days a week as a way to maintain my sanity. Eating proper foods is also key. I also reserve every Sunday as my family day. No work, no computer, no phones (I’m working hard on this one). Just an entire day devoted to my beautiful family. And, of course, everyone needs that night out on the town with friends to do absolutely ridiculous things that cannot be published on Notable.ca.
Best career tip for other YPs:
Pick a specialty and develop your skills so incredibly well that you become the king/queen of that domain. Own that domain.
Most common mistake you see other YPs make:
Social media has given everyone an arena to thump their chest and be larger than life. As a YP, it’s too easy to get caught up in the bravado and chest thumping. Don’t act bigger than the role that you own. Accept the role you have and grow from there. Be humble and thankful for the learning opportunities you’re given.
How do you find a happy balance between striving for success and being happy with where you are?
Having a young daughter has helped me to realize that my life is only as valuable as the time I get to spend with her. I work enough to put a roof over my family’s head and a delicious meal on the table. Everything else is a bonus and I’m reminded of that each day. My success as a YP is only as good as my success as a husband and dad.
Favourite restaurant in the city:
What a horrible/wonderful question…I can’t name a single favourite. I love food and will try anything once. That said, Shikiji is the best noodle house in town. Order the Chili Goma Ramen – it’ll ruin all other noodle soups for you.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone – I live and die by my iPhone.