Here we are! Okay, so this photo may be a little creepy but we had fun taking it! This is from our New Year’s Eve wedding last year. I’m pretty sure it was the best way I have ever brought in a new year!
And now, another new year is here. How I do love new beginnings! Sitting at my desk this morning I realized we have been an official business for two years now. Before January of 2010 I mostly just photographed friends and family for fun. A few facebook messages in Fall of 2009 changed all of that. I all of a sudden was asked to photograph 3 different weddings within a few weeks of each other. WOW! What do I do with that?
Brett and I had just gotten married in May of ’09 and were settling into our little apartment in Starkville, MS to finish college as married people! Such a fun time. I had started a part time graphic design job at MSU – which was wonderful! I loved getting to do so many design projects and enjoyed the people I worked with. However, late summer and early Fall – I received some interesting facebook messages – girls were wanting me to photograph their weddings?! I had photographed a few engagements here and there, some bridals, and of course at every event I ever attended in college. I had at least photographed one wedding by myself (Paige, you were so brave to let me do that!) and a few others as a second photographer type… but three messages within just a few weeks of each other? Decisions had to be made…
I vividly remember all of the thoughts that were going through my head at that time. Mainly, “I’m supposed to graduate college and become a graphic designer, not a photographer.” So, long story short, after much discussion and prayer with my encouraging and brave husband, we bought a new camera, some umbrellas (not the rain kind), and a few other basic necessities and started getting ready to shoot some weddings! We rented other things that we needed for the first few weddings to test the waters to see if this was going to be more than a little hobby. I had taken several photography classes through MSU’s art department, so that was a good start. Then, it was actually Brett’s idea to take a continuing ed photography class at MSU with one of MSU’s university photographers, Kristen. Little did I know that class would change my life in so many ways.
Kristen was gracious enough to answer so many of our questions and helped me get started with choosing what camera to buy and telling me about places to rent. So thankful for Kristen!
So, I purchased the Canon 50D (a pro-sumer type body) and already had my old faithful Canon Rebel. Brett and I were ready(ish) for our first official series of weddings. Outside of work, class, homework, and being a newlywed, I was reading and researching all about photography and how to photograph a wedding. Thankfully we had been in or to 4 or 5 weddings that summer (including our own) so this wasn’t too foreign of a concept for us.
I rarely journal, but for some reason I felt the need to on the day we made our first big photo purchase, October 20, 2009. I thought this little paragraph was fitting to share, ” I’m ordering my camera equipment today! I pray I will use it wisely and God will bless my efforts as I hope to use it for His purposes. Not sure where this will lead, but I have a confidence this is what I need to do right now.” Later I wrote, “I don’t know what Brett or I will do when we graduate, but it is exciting… God will provide for our needs!” Indeed, our needs have been more than met!
Our first wedding weekend was actually a double-header. We had a wedding on Friday and then one on Sunday afternoon. Armed with what little gear we owned, some rented lenses, and the faithful clipboard and checklist – we came and conquered our first wedding weekend. Of course we were scared and didn’t really know what to do one time when the flashes weren’t working and I almost cried…but we DID get the job done either way. Oh, and about the flashes – once we changed the batteries all was fine 🙂 Funny how that works…
The brides and their families were so gracious and great to work with. One bride’s mother even wrote me a sweet note about how she loved their photos – she’ll never know how much that meant to me and how much that encouraged me to keep going!
One after another, the requests for different kinds of photography kept coming. I did not advertise anywhere (and still haven’t), people just kept finding me, and to my amazement – hiring me. With each new wedding we booked, we would purchase a little more gear. With each new gear purchase, we would do a little more research and a little more practice.
From December of ’09 to May of 2010, I photographed 6 weddings while finishing my degree and working part time. I was still learning how to edit my images and quickly learned that the wedding day is EASY compared to everything else that goes on before and after involving the photos. Many nights Brett would fall asleep on the bed in our second bedroom/office while I did homework and edited to the wee hours of the morning.
Graduation day finally came and I walked across stage to get my diploma then headed for the exit to photograph a wedding taking place in just a few hours. Now that school was behind me I could concentrate on weddings! And finding a job, and moving out of state, leaving my friends, still designing for the University, freelance designing, still learning about photography, and growing a legitimate business (notice I said legitimate… there is SO much that goes into just the paperwork of a legal business – ugh). It was an insanely busy summer.
This is the part where Kristen comes back in. Long story short, she suggested Samford University call me about filling their part-time photographer position. Longer story short, I interviewed with them 3 weeks before our lease was up in Starkville – and got the job!
Since Brett and I were planning on being self-employed, we weren’t quite sure where we should move. We were planning on Birmingham, but Samford settled it. In the same week, we got a call about someone Brett’s parents knew that needed someone to house-sit for 2 months. The house was about a 25 minute drive from Samford, gave us time to look for a place to buy without having to be stuck in a lease, and we gladly said YES and THANK YOU!
This post is getting too long so I’ll give you the basics from here.
Since those first seemingly simple facebook messages about two years ago, we’ve photographed over 35 weddings, almost as many engagements, numerous bridal sessions, family sessions, a couple of babies, and even one Bat Mitzvah. We have 5 times the gear we started with… minus the 4 or 5 things I’ve managed to leave somewhere or lose. * oopsies * Our 2012 calendar is about 4 weddings away from being fully booked and I’m so humbled and thrilled by that. I’m still working at Samford part-time and have photographed hundreds of assignments for them. I enjoy being able to meet new people every week there and photographing things I would never have access to outside of a University setting.
I may work 60 hours a week still, but I love what I do.
I’m hoping I’ll have post on here in a few months about how I have overcome over-booking myself and my business is running 100% smoothly, I only work from 8:00-5:00 and I have no worries in the world, but until then I’m going to keep doing what I love and keep learning how to do it better and faster!
I cannot express how thankful I am for those 35 brides that are much more than a number to me. I really feel like I should thank each one of you by name because you’re each a special part of our history and without you trusting me, I would not be where I am now.
I’ve told many people, it’s obvious God has a plan for this business. He has done immeasurably more than I could have asked or hoped. I’m also SO thankful that I have been given a supportive, patient, and willing husband to help me an encourage me through it all.
Looking forward to 2012!