I didn’t always know I wanted to be a photographer (actually I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was little) but I have always liked taking pictures. In middle school I was the only one who took photos on important days like the last day of school or field trips. In high school, I didn’t go anywhere without a camera and was expected to have photos up on facebook the next day for everyone. I liked taking friends out to cool locations for silly portraits, was a teacher’s assistant for the photography class, and cherished every photo I could get my hands on. But I never would have known I would have ended up here.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college I had a job with a local photographer that was a family friend. I am forever thankful for Ryan and Jessica for trusting me, teaching me, and even throwing me into the deep-end of my first wedding (when Jessica went into labor a bit early). I have a distinct memory of driving home one day after editing all day, just happy as a clam, and thinking to myself, “this is what I have to do for the rest of my life.” At the end of the summer, I was moping around one morning because this internship I loved was over and I thought to myself, “I could totally do it on my own” (I was crazy, I know). So I made a (terrible) website and asked some friends to do a photoshoot with me. This was just the beginning.
That was 2009. I was 19. For years I ran my little business out of my college dorm room or my sorority house. I even remember my first boudoir clients picking up their books at my sorority (as they also lived on campus). I had a little notebook to keep track of the businesses finances. I photographed boudoir clients in the basement of my childhood home. I took every opportunity to photograph everything I could get my hands on. The art department at UNL wanted nothing to do with me, so I went to the Journalism & Mass Communications College and learned about photojournalism (and even worked at the Daily Nebraskan for a semester). I was the president of the photography club for a year. My honors thesis was on boudoir photography (to the chagrin of the honors program) and my advisor / favorite professor was used to me editing in class. All the while I knew my dream when I got done with school was to be a full time professional photographer.
This business took a long time to grow into anything substantial. I didn’t know what I was doing for a long time (though in reality most of us are just making it up as we go along) and it showed in my work and my “marketing” efforts. Maybe 5 or so years ago I almost quit. I had moved to Michigan in 2013 so my new husband could get his masters at MSU, which meant starting over. I wasn’t shooting much, I was miserable at my day job, and it just didn’t seem like this was going to work for me. I was heartbroken. Then one night while sobbing in on the couch my husband told me something I will never forget…”you can’t quit,” he said, “it’s who you are.” I knew that moment he was right, and that I had to get back to work.
In reality, the business never felt like it was “working” until I moved to KC. Something about this place, or the people here, just felt like I was the right fit for the first time. Not to mention the amazing wedding industry that exists here; I would not have been as successful or had near as much fun without all of the astonishing vendors I get to call friends. Right after we moved I got a part-time job; little by little I was able to pull back my hours until in 2017 when I left for good. I was absolutely terrified. I had days of utter joy in my new found freedom. And then days where I just sat at my computer and cried. But slowly things began to pick-up and build. Not that every moment since has been glorious (aka last year where I shot 8 weddings with one arm because I broke my humerus) but I’m getting to do the the thing I love. And I’m good at it. Being able to create images for people that they love and tells their story brings me so much joy. Though I don’t think I’ll shoot weddings for the rest of my life, it’s hard work and eventually my family will need my weekend time more, but I won’t ever stop creating lasting memories for good people.
Headshots through the years:
About a year ago I was out to dinner with my dear friend Emily Love. We somehow got onto the topic of how long I’d been shooting and I realized this summer would be the 10 year anniversary of the launch of this business. She immediately exclaimed, “you have to throw a party!” I was so excited about that idea and replied, “only if you help me plan it ;)” So the idea was born and I spent a year dreaming of what this party might look like. It ended up being the biggest party I’ve thrown since my wedding, and it was everything I dreamed of and more! Good food, pink wine, and and great friends 🙂
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to throw this party was to say THANK YOU! Thank you to every person who believed in me and supported me along the way. Thank you to my mom who let me turn the basement into a studio and supported my career choice. Thank you to my husband who has been there for every single moment; the good and the bad. All of my amazing clients, who I would not be here without. I also need to throw out a special thank you to all of the vendors who helped put on this perfect evening; especially Emily Love, who I wouldn’t have survived without!
Because of my 10 year anniversary and my 30th birthday later this month I have a big announcement planned…stay tuned next week!!