My journey into photography started when I was just 16. In 2006.
But it fell completely into my lap, unexpected, with no real connection to it already established. No one in my family was a photographer (that I knew of at the time). It wasn't something I grew up with. Or even was around at all outside of every mom's favorite thing in the 90's, disposable cameras. But for Christmas in 2006, my grandparents unexpectedly gave me my first camera of my own. A Kodak C-315.
My grandparents found it as a Black Friday deal for $50 that year and gifted everybody in the family one. And with that price tag, you can imagine, it really wasn't all that great in terms of quality and function. It had 4 modes on it. And it tried to brag it was a full 5mp. But I was lucky to get that quality. I remember the video mode on it didn't even have sound, hah! But it didn't stop me from using that little device to start exploring the world of photography and realize the depth of possibility that digital photography was really offering. Which I was quickly falling in love with.
Now, I always try to explain to people, that I took to photography so naturally because even though I knew nothing of photography, I was already a known creative. When I was 8, I told my grade school teacher I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. And that sent me into the realms of writing, drawing, painting, clay-mation, and even some video making. During class, through all of school, I would rush through the work I needed to do so I could do the work I wanted to do. Which was different through the ages - drawing comics sometimes, writing short stories, or even creating an entire miniature world in my parents basement from Popsicle sticks, hot glue, and clay (ask me about that one sometime haha!) - and at home, my parents always put creativity as a high priority for my sister and I. By the time I got to the age of 16 I was already a very creative person who lived and breathed for exploring the unknown within art and creativity itself.
So, with that being said, when photography arrived as this unexpected gift, it didn't take long for me to just accept photography as a new way of exploring art, amongst the frontier of the digital photography medium and join in on all the fun myself. Frolicking around taking pictures of sunsets and lady bugs.
When I graduated high school, my parents wanted to fully embrace this growing photography passion they recognized within me. So they decided, as my graduation present, to buy me a much needed upgrade for my first international trip with my boyfriend to England (now husband!) where he is actually from. A brand new, shiny, Sony DSC-H7. And that camera had ALL THE MODES. They wanted me to be able to capture my trip over there. To document every part. And keep on creating even when I would be so far away from home. And you know what? I did just that.
They say you never really know the value of something until it's passed or no longer in your life. And I think that's totally true. At the time, I had no idea how important that trip was going to be for my journey as a photographer. Because not only did it give me a chance to play with a new camera, it opened me up to the entire world of opportunity that photography has to offer. Which literally changed my entire life.
When I met my husbands family for the first time over there back in 2007 during that trip, I remember them asking me what I wanted to be. I was 17 at the time. Freshly graduated from high school. And up to that point I really didn't know what I wanted. What 17 year old really does?! But I remember telling one of them I wanted to be a photographer someday. And although at the time it came out of me almost at a surprise. And felt like an elusive dream that seemed completely unlikely AND impractical. But here I am, 12 years later. Following that random blurt out of a day-dreaming teenager.
When I got back from that trip, I did end up getting a regular job but still spent the majority of my time doing photography related things. Slowing growing more and more sure that I was meant to be a photographer. One way or another.
In 2009, I ended up buying my first DSLR. A Canon 50D. We had to put the entire thing on credit. And I was determined to have photography pay it off. I began exploring different types of photography because up to that point, my entire portfolio consisted of nature/landscapes/travel. I decided to try working with some local models looking to build some portfolios. Began asking friends and family to take their family photos. And even started shooting weddings for friends and family over the next few years who would have me. And it took all a bit of that long to really find my niche, what sort of people I clicked with, and to find a way to make money in photography doing something I loved.
When it came to 2012, I really decided that weddings was what I wanted to focus heavily on. That I had a natural talent with them and the industry seemed so hungry for fresh photographers for a more modern bride! So, that was the niche I created. Followed it through. And officially established my business a LLC. I got a website - a legit one - created my first real branding, and really just let it grow the way it wanted to. And needed to.
I will also admit, that this claim to success definitely wasn't overnight for me. I had to work a full time job during the week and then photographed shoots and weddings on the weekends until April of 2016, when I had our first baby boy, Leo,