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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.

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My first wedding ever circa 2015. I still don’t think this image is too awful.

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.

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First real engagement session.

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.⠀⠀

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Second full wedding I shot in 2016

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.

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That tilt was cool circa early 2017

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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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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.

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My first wedding sunset session!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

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. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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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.

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Back when I thought I needed to photoshop the sky to make it cool.

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?

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Me, so excited, as I leave for my first wedding with a tripod and bright blue shirt. Oh have I learned.

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!

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I used to think watermarks made me professional.

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.

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First styled shoot in April 2017! Crazy to think I’ve done like 20 since!

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! 

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I think I started not sucking around mid-2017.

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.

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Now, let’s look at the transition through pictures! Swipe or click right below! 

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Thanks for visiting!

A little bit about me: 

  1. I describe my style as real and vibrant. I focus on bright colors and incredible sunsets. I will force you to break away from your reception during sunset for pictures. You won’t regret it!
  2. I’m a huge animal lover. I own three cats and volunteer whenever I can at an animal shelter. If you ask if you can bring a pet to your engagement session, you will become my new best friend.
  3. I’m a newlywed, so I understand the wedding planning struggle!

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