Jordan McCall is used to looking at the world through a camera lens. He is co-owner of J&J Outdoors, a company launched in 2015 that features video and photography of outdoor entertainment like hunting and fishing. The company has a large social media following and 12 sponsors that give products in return for online promotions. A small staff provides content from southern parts of Pennsylvania like Chambersburg and McConnellsburg.
But that wasn’t enough for this young entrepreneur.
The bulk of work through J&J Outdoors is video, but McCall found that he also enjoyed taking photos of the scenery while he was out. One of those nature shoots featured a young man fly fishing. Photos from that shoot were recognized by Orvis and Googan Baits fishing companies, and there is talk about McCall doing product advertisement photos for each company.
“I started showing my work on my social media pages. I got a lot of positive feedback, and I started thinking that maybe I could get something going with other forms of photography, like high school seniors, engagement, and weddings.”
The business marketing major decided to give it a go and started up McCall Media in May 2019. It didn’t take long for his schedule to start filling up. In fact, by the time summer was over, he’d done a senior session and seven engagement shoots, with several more of each scheduled for fall 2019, along with nine weddings for 2020. “I had some doubts about how it was going to go, but I worked hard and got my name out there. With the help of social media and people showing interest, it took off.”
Self-taught through YouTube videos, articles, and lots of practice, McCall is loving working with the camera, lighting, and editing equipment. “With the photography I’m doing now, I get to travel a lot, and I like how shoots are never the same. That helps with my creativity. I like mixing things up and meeting so many new people.”
McCall says his favorite type of shoot is an engagement session not only because of the creativity involved, but he gets to be a part of a couple’s future. “It's also nice to see how happy they are and know that they will cherish the pictures I take.”
McCall Media also creates websites for clients, edits footage for others, and offers advertising and commercial photography. “Every day is different. One might be shooting, another is just editing, or another is building websites. I like that.”
McCall is pleased with J&J Outdoors, and while it’s hard to compare the two businesses, he is fiercely proud of McCall Media. “It's me working directly with individuals, me taking their photos and doing the editing. It's not me and my buddy and two other guys, so I do take a little bit more pride in my own business.”
The classes McCall has taken at Penn State Altoona have helped him set and meet goals in his newest business, especially when it comes to marketing. He says he’s learned a lot about how to get his name out, about social media marketing, and how to increase his following. He’s taken classes on advertising, how to build a website, and how to increase conversion rates.
“I have a good handle on that because of my courses, but I think that when it comes to running my own business, I learn a lot more by doing than from a book or by listening to a professor speak.”
McCall is slated to graduate this May, and he says he is more than ready to be out of college and to commit himself fully to his business. He plans to get a part-time job somewhere but will concentrate mostly on McCall Media, doing the photography and building up his portfolio. He hopes to establish himself in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland as a well-known media company. He wants to grow his social media following to 5,000 on Facebook and 2,000 on Instagram. “In my head, I picture me walking into a building with a sign that says McCall Media and includes a professional studio. I think it's possible in the future.”
McCall is driven to succeed and reach his full potential. “I've been given one life. If I have this talent and passion, why wouldn't I chase them? I wake up every morning and think that I have a chance to build a career that I love.”
And his advice for others thinking about starting their own business or going after their dreams? “Do it. The wealthiest place on earth is the graveyard—people die with some of the greatest ideas and hopes but they're scared to take the risks and they're scared there won't be a reward. If you have a plan and you're passionate and willing to work hard and deal with failure, go for it. Don't just graduate college and get that job everyone else is getting. Go do what you want to do. It's going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it.”