There was never really a point where I stopped to think if I shouldn’t do it.
(Granted, this is a character flaw I’ve kind of always had, but I also have grown to learn the goodness of it and realize it’s core is confidence from Jesus – but that’s another blog post for another day...)
Fresh out of 6th grade I met an incredible counselor at summer camp who would run around the camp grounds taking fun photos, making all of our sweaty, grimy, face-painted faces *somehow* look beautiful. I discovered that she was a recent high school grad and local portrait photographer. Somewhere during that week, I said to myself “If Sara can do that, I bet I could try it, too.” (Shout out to you, Sara DeVere (Long)! )
Fast forward a bit and I had my first job.
Then my second,
Then I introduced myself to my third (and favorite, by far!).
After saving up from gymnastics coaching and baby sitting, I ecstatically ran to the store to purchase my very first DSLR (ah! this day was HUGE for me!). I was 15 at the time and had made a Facebook page months prior (because when you're named after a country, you've gotta snag those domains ASAP, ammiright?!) where I just started posting stuff.
No, not good stuff…but stuff, nonetheless.
A few shots of my friends, and “senior pictures” for my brother. Countless flowers photos, a few animals, and whatever props I found around my house. Each photo with a sad excuse of an ever-changing watermark slapped haphazardly on it. Basically, I was living off the widely popular truth that if you have a DSLR and a Facebook page, you're a PRO-FESH-IONAL photographer.
But strangely – somehow – it worked.
I knew I had to start somewhere, so I threw myself out there - and booked my first wedding when I was 16.
All shots taken as .jpegs, 10+ hours shooting, ridiculously extensive processing through PicMonkey (Mhm, I’ll admit to that), and less money for the most work. But the client was happy – and at the end of the day, that’s what mattered most.
So, I learned.
I booked a few seniors
and I just kept going with it.
I shared my images and kept moving forward in that Jesus-confidence.
With each year I grew a little more in my knowledge, style, artistic eye, and enjoyment of the whole process. Learning from the ground up on how to run a freelance business as a teen, how to pay taxes (ugh, my least favorite part) and how to develop real relationships with my clients.
The best part?
I’m still learning.
Every time I grab my gear to go shoot, I get to know my clients, talk with them until we’re friends, play with their posing and celebrate alongside them.
It's honestly the most fun thing.
Blessed to be growing in this field, I have now shot weddings and engagements for dozens of couples in the Midwest, landscape photos in Greece and Italy, seniors all across Ohio, and handfuls of projects for local businesses, non-profits, schools, farms, organizations, and whatever else has landed in my inbox.
Now I'm sitting here in Missouri, watching the Bachelorette and eating chocolate ice cream (casual) reflecting over the past 7 years of lessons, relationships, and progress. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude and a desire to keep going.
there was never really a point where I stopped to think if I shouldn’t do it
but now that I know that I love it,
I’m not stopping anytime soon.
Additional images courtesy of Catherine Norwood (Thanks Cathy!).