story by Gay Eyerman for the Winter 2021 issue of Saint Ignatius Magazine
Greg Murray ’00 is doing what many of us wish we could: making a living doing what he loves. Murray, who grew up in Lakewood, has fond memories of having pets of all kinds and taking art classes as a kid and at Loyola University Chicago while studying business. In 2004 he began a career in human resources and spent 10 years in the corporate world until he admitted the truth: He hated it. He was burned out and unhappy, even after trying the nonprofit sector.
As a side gig, Murray had begun dabbling in photography. He bought a good camera and started taking photos in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland cityscapes while also shooting weddings and animals for pay. His work got noticed - in the Tremont Art Walk, on restaurant walls and with awards. He gradually built his reputation and a small business. By 2014, Murray was ready to leave his corporate job. His then-girlfriend, now-wife, Kristen, was a huge supporter as he took a leap of faith and committed to giving his photography business a six-month try.
“As much as HR wasn’t a good fit for me, I learned about running a business and customer service,” says Murray. “I took four years to make the transition to photography to make sure it would work. I did it on the side and honed my craft. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you can make a business out of it.”
Murray has built a successful business and earned a reputation for captivating images of dogs, including two books, "Peanut Butter Dogs" and "Pit Bull Heroes: 49 Dogs with Resilience and Heart". “Photographing dogs takes a lot of patience. I treat them like they’re my own, giving them time to get comfortable and explore before we shoot photos. I have fun and make it playful.”
Murray is also passionate about serving his local community. He and Kristen support several charities, volunteer at animal shelters, and helped overturn the Lakewood ban on pit bulls in 2018.
“Saint Ignatius instilled in me the importance of serving your community,” Murray says. “I remember doing Sophomore Service and being involved in programs where students would serve at places like the West Side Catholic Center. I am most thankful for how the school gave me opportunities to serve others. It is part of who I am now.”
Murray balances his photography work between business and personal clients. He’s been pleased to have his story picked by local media and still describes Lakewood as the hometown he loves. Murray is now the proud father of a one-year-old daughter and is finishing a new book of photography, a sequel to his popular first book, called – wait for it – "Peanut Butter Puppies".