Today I am sharing my wedding photography journey! I am excited to let you in on my journey thus far and how I started in this industry. My hope is that this posts finds someone in similar shoes I was once in – just starting out, unsure of where to go next or how to get started. We all start somewhere, and I am here to share my story!
The very beginning:
It all started when I was a seventh grader in middle school. Oh, the awkward middle school years! I struggled to find a hobby (keep in mind this was pre Ipads and tablets!) and my mom encouraged me to find something of interest to me to pass the time when I declared my boredom.
My mom enjoyed sewing in her free-time, so I tried to take that up as well. Long story short, I did not enjoy it at all. My family had recently purchased a canon kit camera as the new, fancy, family camera. This was before phones had good cameras! This is where my story with photography all started.
I had always been interested in pictures! I would cover my walls with postcards, enjoying the pretty images along the border of my bedroom. At one point, you couldn’t see the paint color! I started experimenting with the family camera, watching youtube videos to learn what each of the settings were. I would set up some stuffed animals or props such as flower vases and other various trinkets to practice what I had learned. Each time I switched a setting, I would take a photo and examine it to figure out what the setting changed. I took notes on sticky notes, and taped the orange sticky notes to the side of the camera.
My poor two younger brothers were my test subjects wether they wanted to be or not once I eventually graduated from inanimate objects. This continued for some time, including the time I discovered Tumblr for the first time and would try and recreate photos I saw. It was then that I fell in love with creating, and began seeing everyday items through a photographer key.
My first camera and session:
One Christmas, my family gifted me my very own Canon Rebel T3i with my first 50mm lens. I was amazed and couldn’t believe I had my own gear. It was this day that I came up with the idea to start my own business! I am pretty sure I had business cards drafted up by the end of the day. Once I started high school I signed up for the intro to photography class offered at the school. It was here that I learned different types of photography, and learned Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I practiced and practiced and practiced some more.
In 10th grad, my older cousin needed his senior portraits taken and my mom volunteered me for the job. I was so nervous! However, after I did that session, I knew I wanted to continue doing this for others. My cousins’ senior photos was what really kickstarted this passion of mine into a career. From there, I took other friends’ photos to build my portfolio, started an Instagram, and started marketing myself on our City Community page on Facebook every Thursdays (when they allowed small business owners to promote their work). In addition to volunteering at football games and taking photos of the student section, I began to grow this business of mine through word of mouth until I went to college. Throughout high school I made my first website from scratch on Wix.com, made my own logo (would not recommend!) and started taking more portrait sessions.
I am so thankful for my family and friends during this time. My parents would drive me to and from sessions when I did not have my license yet; and my friends were always so supportive and would let me practice with them!
The start of weddings:
Once in college, I continued taking portraits in and around my college town. In the summers I would come home and do more portrait sessions. I started gaining an interest in weddings, and had started to follow some wedding photographers on Instagram.
One day, I decided to reach out to some photographers I admired and asked if I could shadow them and learn from them in any way. Fun fact: only ONE person responded, Trish Allison Photography! I owe a lot to Trish, and am forever thankful for her taking me in under her wing. She taught me everything when it came to the wedding industry. I spent an entire season shadowing her and her team, learning, observing and soaking it all in. From there, I started as her wedding associate. I did this all throughout college – going to classes during the week, driving home and photographing weddings on the weekends. It was hard work, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Leading up to graduation, I was the odd-on out. Your senior year in college is full of job fairs, interviews, and preparations seminars. I did none of them! I knew what I wanted to do after graduation, and that was what I had been doing throughout college. My friends and classmates thought I was insane for not applying to any jobs. I have always had such a strong entrepreneurial spirit – going full time in my photography was the only path that made sense to me.
With a degree in Advertising, Public Relations, and Creative Digital Media from Winona State University, I started my full time photographer career in the midst of the Covid-Pandemic. Was it scary? Absolutely. There is a lot of fear of the unknown and imposter syndrome that goes hand in hand with owning a business – especially a creative-based one like photography. The wedding industry can feel very saturated. It can come across like there is no space for you. However, I am here to tell you – there is always room! We all have our own unique talents to add to the industry. Flash forward to present day, I am a few short months away from opening up my dream photography studio, I get to photograph couples whom I love and adore every weekend, and I have some amazing industry friends I am so grateful for.
I know this blog post was a long one! But, I hope this helps even just one person who may be in similar shoes. My wedding photography journey doesn’t end here!
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