Rebecca Patton, founder of Beckley and Studio in Dallas. (graphic by PaperCity)
When Rebecca Patton moved from Los Angeles to attend college in Dallas-Fort Worth, she had no idea she would end up building a thriving photography business (her studies focused on biology). But as so many hobbies do, Patton’s side project snowballed into a full-time career. Flash forward to today, Beckley Photography is a creative force in Dallas, specializing in everything from photography to consulting. Whether she’s taking pictures of some of your favorite bloggers and influencers (think: Ashley Robertson, Nastia Liukin, and Fashion Jackson) or crafting stunning visions for places like The Joule and Bullion, Rebecca works to intermingle online presence with real-world connection.
Patton talks with PaperCity about everything from her penchant for hotel bars to the acceptance that comes with embracing self-employment.
What’s your Dallas-area coffee order?
Rebecca Patton: An almond milk latte with just a little bit of vanilla — and I think Houndstooth does it the absolute best.
What’s the best Dallas meal you’ve ever eaten?
Rebecca Patton: At Bolsa (RIP). We were in college and felt so fancy that we even got to eat there. It was whatever their chicken entree was with this amazing red wine sauce, and this was our first time in Oak Cliff. It was this adventure. Sitting out on the patio with those big tables, I felt like ‘I’ve arrived.’ The food was just so good, and the white chocolate tile for dessert just rocked my world.
What is your favorite Dallas wellness spot?
Rebecca Patton: I love the Joule’s spa. It’s such a retreat. [The underground location] makes you feel like you can totally shut off from the entire rest of the world, take your time, and sit by the pool. I feel like I can be wherever — it’s like putting blinders to the rest of the world.
What is your ideal hidden Dallas spot?
Rebecca Patton: I feel like all of Kessler Park is a little hidden gem. We just moved here at the end of 2019 — there are trees, hills, little tennis courts, and the Kessler Steps, and it just feels like such a perfect little neighborhood that I didn’t know existed until we moved this way. I also have a soft spot for hotel lobby bars, like The Adolphus and The Joule. No one’s real destination is the lobby bar — there’s always a reason someone is there, and you end up talking with the most interesting people or hearing and seeing the most fascinating things.
How did you start and grow Beckley Photography?
Rebecca Patton: So much of any success I’ve had is really specific to Dallas. I grew up in Los Angeles and ended up going to University of Dallas. I was a biology major because I was planning on being a physical therapist, but so many coincidences happened. Plus, I loved the idea of being back in Texas where my dad grew up.
I was a bio major, but I also always had my camera with me. Instead of doing what science majors were supposed to do, I opted to be the photo editor for Yearbook and the newspaper — but I maintained wanting to be a physical therapist and stayed on that path.
When my husband and I were engaged, we were going on a walk, and I was so overwhelmed, trying to figure out where I was going apply to graduate school — when he asked me, “Why don’t you just be a photographer?” I hadn’t realized I could do that, and it felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. It was the first time I’d ever felt any sense of relief looking forward to the future, and from there — because I had started photography as a hobby — it was just so fun for me. I said yes to so much, and people responded to that — because I truly loved what I did.
Beckley Photography genuinely, in its entirety, came to me after graduation in 2014 all at once. The whole vision just came, and I took it from there. It’s gone through a couple of iterations, but the biggest thing I’m grateful for is that people pick up what I’m putting down. People tell me more clearly than I’m even able to articulate that they see what I’m doing, and that’s basically been the name of the game.
We just kept saying “yes,” and it’s so much of being literally… there. I feel like in Dallas when you leave your house, good things happen. Dallas is such a special place where, when you’re good, do good work, do what you love, and look out for the people around you, it works out. In other places I feel like you can do everything so right and never catch a break, and in Dallas people want to be that connector.
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How do you prioritize your own mental and physical health as a business owner?
Rebecca Patton: I think that for people who work for themselves, you have to chuck the word balance out of the window — because your balance is going to look different from everyone else’s. When you really love what you do, feeling like you have to pull away from it or clock out at a certain time is really frustrating. I’ve started implementing some structure by trying to establish small, reasonable, effective goals I can cross off as early as I can. Just being honest with myself that there are going to be days where I’m more focused on other things, and days where I’m so immersed in what I do. Don’t fight it.
What advice would you give to Dallas women?
Rebecca Patton: The first thing, which is something I learned the hard way, is that this year is your year and this time is your time. You don’t have to wait for permission, or to accumulate X number of credentials. If there’s something you really feel strongly about doing or saying or thinking or participating in, do it! No one’s done this before, no one’s lived before, and it’s recognizing that you should do what you want to do. Be good to people, be good to yourself, keep your priorities straight, and do what you want to do.