Once upon a time, I was barely 21 and a fresh-out-of-college editorial assistant at a publishing company, getting ready to get married to the love of my life, and trying hard to find a photographer who fit both my budget and my style. I loved beautiful photography, but I couldn’t tell you what exactly made it “good” (I wasn’t a photographer at that point) — I just knew bad photography when I saw it and didn’t want that for my wedding photos!! We ended up booking a wonderful photographer who was just starting out but had a beautiful eye for composition and light (although, again, I couldn’t have told you that was what it was at the time!).
This was back in late 2007, when Instagram was nonexistent and blogging was blowing up like crazy. I started following the blogs of other photographers that I had found in my wedding photographer search, and somewhere off in Internet Land, I came across Jasmine Star’s original blog (powered by sweet Blogger, of course!). I started reading her posts at my desk during my lunch breaks, munching on my salad and following Jasmine’s growth from wannabe-photographer to wedding-photographer-superstar. At the same time, I watched what our own wedding photographer was able to create with our wedding photos, and I was amazed. I loved how a wedding photographer could tell a story with their images! I loved the idea of documenting love! I loved what a camera could do with beautiful light! And what was this magical thing called bokeh? Oh my goodness, I was HOOKED.
So of course, I started my own blog. I got a bonus at work, and bought my first DSLR camera, a Canon 40D with a standard kit lens. I wrapped it in a scarf, threw it in my purse, and lugged my camera everywhere! I took lots of pictures. So, so, SO many pictures of coffee mugs and flowers and basically any inanimate object I could find (oh! that bokeh! haha!). Marty and I were newlyweds, and he was working long hours at a challenging job, so I started playing with Photoshop after I got off of work, while I waited for him to get home. I designed a website for myself. I took photos of my cousin’s babies and my younger siblings. I remember wishing that one of my friends would just GET ENGAGED ALREADY so I could surprise them with a free engagement session, highlighting my awesome newfound skillzzz!
I kept in contact with our own sweet wedding photographer, and she let me come to one of her weddings as her second shooter. I took a vacation day from work, put on whatever outfit I had that looked most like something Jasmine Star would wear (#fangirl), and drove off with my heart in my throat, nerves through the roof. I second-shot that wedding like a total newbie… but I second-shot a wedding! It was AMAZING! So much love and excitement and emotion! I loved it so much. So I kept going, day after day, taking pictures and blogging about it. I made business cards. Marty started shooting with me. We shot our first wedding together. We started loving the idea of not only having a photography business, but using our business to serve our clients well, in as many ways as possible.
I was now an editor at the publishing company where I worked, but then I got pregnant and left my editing career behind to stay home with my tiny newborn, Charlie. I took pictures of our little baby, documenting our life as a new family of three. Back then, in 2010, the photography industry was changing like crazy. Photographers started helping each other, putting out educational blog posts or posting videos. Jasmine Star, Melissa Jill, Katelyn James, and other incredible photographers were offering education for newcomers to the photography scene. I devoured blog post after blog post. I did family shoots, and engagement shoots. I slowly got better and better. I kept blogging. I started shooting more weddings. I kept taking pictures of coffee mugs (haha!).
Marty and I started a tradition where we would go to Steak ‘n Shake after every wedding (usually the only place open after wedding receptions ended!) — which lasted right up until I had to give up gluten and dairy. (Now, I just drink coffee at wedding receptions like my life depends on it! haha!) We’ve shot destination weddings, traveling across the country to document a couple’s love story! Photography has brought so much life and joy to this very task-oriented girl’s life! It’s made me braver and stronger, forcing me way out of my comfort zone in the best way possible! We have met the most amazing and generous couples, people who have left their impression on us for life. We’ve been a part of so many beautiful, memorable, incredible wedding days that have left us filled to overflowing with hope and joy and love!
I’d love to tell you that this professional photography journey has been linear — here is my starting point, with a continual upward trajectory until, ta-daa! Here we are today!! But there have been plenty of stalls, setbacks, peaks and valleys. I’ve dealt with post-partum depression that kept me in bed, in the dark, for a long time. We’ve had challenges with our kids, challenges with our finances, challenges with our home (we bought a serious fixer-upper six months before Charlie was born! CRAZY!), and more. But I’m so grateful for this photography business, and for my couples and families who gave me a chance at the very beginning! I’m grateful for the transparency and inspiration of photographers who have gone before, paving the way, creating an industry filled with so much encouragement and joy!
(I ran through my archives and pulled out some random behind-the-scenes shots from years past. My hair color has changed more than once, and I used to wear heels to weddings, which was dreamy and also extremely painful! Haha!!)