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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Be Bold

Monica said that before she became well-known she had to talk her way in to places.  She shot Nelson Mandela's picture when she was in South Africa to record that country's first free elections. 

Key Question:


Monica says, "You can't let others tell you what you can or can't do, you have to believe in yourself and when you do that, others will believe too."

Q: How do we know that Monica is bold?

A: She told the story of crashing an event being attended by important people. As a hungry photographer she dressed well and always had her make-up and hair in place so that wherever she went, people would welcome her.Who would turn away a lovely woman with a big beautiful smile on her face?

What does party crashing get for Monica? Pictures she can sell. She probably doesn't have to do this anymore but we suspect she would have no problem getting into any function anywhere today.

Think about it

Where do you need to go?  Who do you need to meet?

Clip from: Monica Morgan Photography

Detroit:  Meet Monica Morgan.   She took a calculated risk and it paid off. And, then she got serious about running a business.

In this episode of the show you can learn many lessons about sole proprietorships, risk-taking, sharing, mentoring, being mentored, and chutzpah (even temerity).  Today, Monica runs a full-service photography studio and is at the top of her game. She is a photojournalist who contributes to Newsweek, Jet, the Detroiter and the Associated Press. Rosa Parks first commissioned Monica to do the cover for her bestseller, Quiet Strength, then she became Rosa's photographer.

We all ask, "How can I get to the top of my profession?" Monica has done it.  Mix one part courage (heart, the muscle) with two parts intelligence (brains, that deep knowledge of your profession) and three parts tenacity (personal will), and then, constantly reinvent the formula. Magic begins to happen.

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Monica Morgan Photography

Monica Morgan, Founder

500 River Place Drive
Suite 5109
Detroit, MI 48207

Visit our web site:

Office: 313-259-7005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1990

Be Bold

HATTIE: (Voiceover) What makes Monica so good at what she does? What causes people to hire her instead of someone else?

MONICA: I have a dream. And the dream is to be the best that I can be in whatever I choose to be. And so I'm just driven, and sometimes I don't understand other people who are not driven. And it's not that it's--that it's wrong because they're not driven, because I know everyone is different. But for me, I've always been one to just be on the track, ready to go, ready to move forward.

What's important is to act as if you belong.
When I first started out, I crashed many events. And if you act as if you belong, no one else can tell you that you don't belong. I remember when there was a reception going on at Manoogian Mansion and Mayor Young was mayor at that time. I went to the door and knocked on the door and I said, `I'd like to come in.' So security looked at me and they said, `Well, are you on the list?' I said, `No, but I'm sure I'm welcome. Please let the mayor know that I'm here.' And I knew that Mayor Young, being as outspoken as he was, that I possibly could get kicked out. But it was a chance I was willing to take. So the security walked in to ask the mayor, and all of a sudden, I got--oh, they let me in, they let me in so that I could pull out one of the mayor's assistants to say it was OK for me to be there. I dropped my earring, and Mayor Young picked the earring up. And I looked at the security like, `See?' So he said `OK, you belong.' But that's because he had seen me taking a lot of photographs, and I guess he thought it was OK.

A lot of times, being a photographer, we get branded. People think we just show up in blue jeans and that's it. But sometimes it's important to kind of dress for the occasion so that you're not real noticed. I wear black a lot because I think it's not going to stand out so much. But I also wear black in the sense where, you know, I walk with authority.

There were many teachers who played a part. I'd be--I'd hate to name any, because there were so many who were helpful to me throughout the years. But the main person that has been extremely instrumental in shaping me has been my grandmother. She's 85 years old and she's my best friend. She's always been there in my corner, she's always been one to tell me when I've done right, when I've done wrong, to always encourage me.

I've had a lot of different professions. I've been in public relations for the Detroit public schools. I worked with Domino's Pizza in public relations, and I worked very, very hard, and I noticed that I made a lot of accomplishments working for other people. And I said, `Well, if I work this hard for someone else, I can do the same thing for myself and even work harder. And as a result of a job that I had lastly right before I opened my own business, there were a lot of negative things that happened, that it made me know for sure that I never wanted to work for anyone else unless I chose to.

HATTIE: When you decided to leave a job and start a business, why this?

MONICA: Well, I was taking photographs on the side. I was writing for a local newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle. I was writing a column and taking photographs.

HATTIE: That was while you had a job.

MONICA: Yes. That was something I did in the evenings.

HATTIE: And you had fun doing that.

MONICA: I had fun. I went out, I met people, I went to all the events, presidential dinners, all kinds of receptions, and I met people. And what would happen, people would ask for copies of their photographs. So I said, `Wait a minute, maybe I can do this.' And the interesting thing is that when I first started working with the Michigan Chronicle, they would not pay for my articles, because I was really a writer, that was what I enjoyed doing, but they would pay for the pictures. So I said, `Wait, maybe this is what I need to do.'

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