With all the craziness going on in the world, it seems weird to think about any celebration. I completely spaced on the importance of this month until I started getting Facebook memories from when I began this adventure. Five years ago I decided to stop everything I had ever worked for and take a leap of faith with my business. I never would have guessed I would currently be a full-time business owner. You may have already heard this story or you may not care, but I wanted to take some time to look back on my journey to finally living my real dream.
Look back at this time with me as I share some of my first wedding images and the story of how I got to where I am today.
I never wanted to be a photographer. It wasn’t because I didn’t like taking pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a camera. It was because I never even knew it was a possibility. Growing up, I was very one-track minded. I only ever REALLY wanted to be one thing. I wanted to be a journalist, or more specifically, I wanted to be the editor of a daily newspaper.
I pursued journalism all through middle school, high school, and college. They tell you as a kid to always go after your dreams, but what do you do when your dreams come true by the age of 24? Before even graduating college, I was offered a job at a daily newspaper. Only a few days after graduating, I loaded up my belongings and moved to Hays, Kansas where I was going to be the newest reporter for the Hays Daily News. Guys, I made it. I had just begun living my dream.⠀⠀
Kyle and I started dating 8 months into living in Hays and it was really hard to be four hours away. I missed my home, even though I loved Hays, so I started looking for job opportunities closer. Hays also went through a round of staff cuts. I knew this was a reality working in print journalism, but I didn’t know it would happen so soon. I was safe, but I still started looking around. I found a job in Maryville, Missouri. This paper was only an hour and a half from home, so long distance would be easier on us.
It was in Maryville that I really discovered my love for photography. It was such a small paper and they didn’t have a photographer on staff, so I took on the role.
I was only in Maryville a couple months when I went through my second round of staff cuts. The reality of print journalism really started to set in and I started thinking of what else to do with my life. I was still safe and had a job, and I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else. After the staff cuts, I found myself in the news editor position. I had only been there three months and I reached my dream. I had always wanted to be the news editor for a daily newspaper and I did it. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Why wasn’t I happy? Something was still missing. I was 24 years old and I advanced as far as I could without leaving town. Kyle and I were already doing the long distance thing and I didn’t want to make it any harder on us.
That’s when my breakdown happened. I accomplished the dream I set for myself in middle school and had no idea what was next. I wasn’t happy there. I wasn’t happy doing my dream. I knew something needed to change. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So, I decided to screw everything, move back to Kansas City, and figure it out. I quickly got a job as a graphic designer, still in my wheelhouse. I hated it, but I used my free time to learn everything I could about camera gear and settings. I mastered my entry-level professional camera. I was talking to Kyle and thought maybe I could start a photography business. I had no idea what i was getting myself into, but he was all for it.
I started by offering free shoots for friends and family. One of my friends happened to have a friend who was getting married. She asked me to photograph her wedding just a few months later. I still had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I loved it. I remember showing up to the wedding with a tripod, which I actually used for their first dance. Who the heck brings a tripod to photograph a wedding?
I didn’t know a thing about shot lists or timelines. We played the entire day by ear. These days, I’m obsessed with getting a timeline put together months before the wedding. In fact, this couple only hired me three months in advance, which I thought was plenty of time. Now I’m worried about not having enough for the full experience if I’m hired less than a year before the day!
What’s the lesson to be learned from this? It’s okay to relax a bit. My first couple was so happy and raved about their experience even though it was a totally different experience than I offer today. I take weddings way more seriously now, which is a good thing, but it’s never a bad idea to remember where I came from.
Why am I telling you this? Every photographer has their “discovery” story. The moment they first realized they wanted to be a photographer. I’m sure you’ve read the stories. They usually revolve around finding their grandparent’s old camera or taking an art class in high school. My road to discovery is a little more unconventional. I’ve never taken a single art class and I never had a “real” camera around growing up. I picked up my first big girl camera while working on what I thought was my dream at the time and I have never looked back.
Why weddings? I’m often asked why I chose to focus on weddings and I really don’t think I ever CHOSE weddings. Weddings chose me 😂After that first wedding in 2015, I took it slow for a little bit. It wasn’t until 2017 that I began pursuing this as a full time job. Throughout the first two years of “faking it,” I kept lucking into wedding gigs. Looking back on it, I have no idea how this even happened and why anyone hired me, but someone must have thought I was good at what I was doing.
From my very first wedding, I was in love. I’m not a very emotional person, but I loved how weddings made me feel. I was always attracted to the emotional aspect of journalism, so I was quickly drawn to the tears, laughs, and overall joy felt throughout a wedding day. Each day is special and different. It’s impossible to get bored doing this job. Plus, wedding cake really is the best.
To wrap up: I’m so grateful for what I get to do and the amazing clients who make this all possible. I wouldn’t have successfully made it 5 years if it wasn’t for you all and thank you to all the photographers who took a chance on me and let me portfolio build with you! I have a couple surprises to celebrate my 5th birthday and those will be announced shortly! Thank you for reading! Scroll down to see some of my “favorite” images from when I first began this journey and swipe right to watch the transition to more recent pretties! Remember, we all start somewhere!
While I’m at it, let’s look at my logo transitions. It took me way too long to figure out who I was and what I wanted my brand to be.
Now, let’s look at the transition through pictures! Swipe or click right below!