Becoming a Full Time Photographer | Part 1 | Personal

May 26, 2020

People always ask me how I got into photography and I suppose the simple answer is that I grew up with a camera in my face. My mom was constantly documenting our family vacations, shenanigans and every day life – and if you’re old enough to remember going to a camera store to drop off your film, you’re old enough to remember the thrill of getting that packet of prints back and reliving all your memories. I think that’s what really got me – the way that each picture took you back to that specific moment in time. I vividly remember piling onto our couch, with my mom in the middle carefully holding the prints so that her fingers wouldn’t smudge the finish and flipping through each photo in turn.

Woman holding camera

That’s where my love of photography started – and it simply expanded over time. I never took photo classes, I never went to college to specialize in photography – it was just a part of me that I turned into a business. My sister and I would take turns taking film photos with my mom’s cameras because digital just didn’t exist yet. I remember the first digital camera our family got – it was approximately the size and weight of a six pack…and the memory card was a FLOPPY DISK. It held *maybe* 10 photos at a time and the quality was terrible but!! You all of a sudden had the ability to take a photo and INSTANTLY see it!

As technology progressed, my sister and I got our own little point and shoots and I took tons of photos, especially when I moved across the country in 2009. All of a sudden I was taking photos of everything and asked my mom if she could send me one of her old digital SLR cameras. The below photos are from our first digital camera in 2000 with our brand new sweet hellion puppy, Moxie (look at that resolution ????).

Old photos of puppy and two girls holding the puppy

Once I had that 10 year old Canon Rebel in my hands I photographed EVERYTHING. My goldfish? Photographed. A random sunset in January? Photographed. My dinner? Photographed. Any event I went to was fully documented and posted on Facebook (because that was the thing to do then). Not only was I thrilled to have something to document my days with, I was experiencing a life separate from the rest of my family and felt like I needed to take a photo of EVERY colorful Fall tree, every pretty sunset – you get the picture (no pun intended).

I was a MOH in a friends wedding and was helping her with research when I realized that wedding photography was a JOB. I started to think that maybe that was something that I’d really like to try one day – and then voila! I was hired for my first wedding after the bride saw an event I’d documented & posted on Facebook (naturally). Let’s just say I can’t even look at those wedding photos without cringing because I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. I also had no idea what I was doing when it came to editing…so the photos were edited in Picasa. (Please see evidence below)

However, I was hooked. I started doing more research on wedding photography and learning as much as I could from resources I found online. Keep in mind, this was around 2011 when Pinterest wasn’t as big as it is now and Instagram wasn’t really a thing. Around this time I discovered Katelyn James & read EVERY blog post that she ever wrote about photographer education. During this time I shot a few more weddings, each becoming less cringeworthy than the next (if you dig through the archives you can find them!).

I was starting to learn how to shoot in manual and edit RAW images. I found out about prime lenses. I learned about shooting in Kelvin (actually, this tip came from MY wedding photographer years ago!). I *really* started shooting everything. I started a DIY blog and took thousands of photos to post online. I also documented all of our family gatherings which lead to photos like this of my sweet Gramp…to me, THESE are the most important photos.

During this entire time, I was working full time as an EMT for a private ambulance company. For years I’d never even entertained the idea of being able to work for myself, even though as a kid, I desperately wanted to own my own business (preferably a cute boutique so I could use a cash register ????????‍♀️). As the years passed, I realized that I had no idea what to do for marketing and because of this, my fledgling business was starting to fail. I had no income coming in and was losing money by the day. I was about to CLOSE the doors on my business when I randomly stumbled upon a Facebook post in a photography group from a photographer in Cape Cod who was looking for a second shooter for the season…

[I had to break this up into 2 parts because it was SO long ???? – make sure you check back on Thursday for the rest of the story!]

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