I am super blushing right now reading the words that Lorna Gentry wrote about me and my business in Click Magazine. When they originally contacted me to see if they could interview me, I thought it would be a quick little interview for a side article. our interview lasted for hours, I rambled, talked about how dance impacted me to become the photographer I am today (ps- did you see Misty Copeland was just named Principle Dancer for ABT? BOOM!), I spoke extremely honestly about the (accidental and happenstance and sometimes frightening) things that brought me to where I am today, and I left the interview hoping that Lorna would take to heart the truthfulness of my struggles, and bring those to light for Click's readers.
What I sort of expected was an article that glossed over all these things and talked 'luxury weddings' and 'why it's so awesome to be a destination wedding photographer' and fluff.
Then I saw this over-the-top beautiful article they laid out for me, which also clearly stated that my road to this success was equal parts drive, being in the right place at the right time, happenstance, and finally skill.
My story is not like most... I didn't attend $10,000.00 workshops and hone my skill and enter the luxury wedding market as a photographer with a beautiful portfolio. At 22, After being turned down for a dance scholarship at my dream studio, I found myself pregnant, unmarried, a waitress, and without any direction at all. Any thoughts of a dance career were put on hold (as a matter of fact, I was on my way to another audition when I read my positive pregnancy test). As I struggled to find my place in life, I had a few friends ask me to shoot their weddings. Without ever having studied under another wedding photographer before (which I would now highly recommend), I shot my first few weddings with my dad's old 35mm film camera. All the while, I was still trying to figure out what to do for 'a real job' and trying to figure out how in the world I was going to take care of this little baby that was coming soon. It was the start of the recession, and no one was hiring. Except.... brides. This is all to say I fell into this business completely on accident, and that I was a wedding photographer before I realized that I Was A Wedding Photographer. I was a brand new (very young) mom, freshly rejected from all the things I had previously wanted in life, and starting a career owning a business in the worst economic times America had seen since the Great Depression. There were so many nights I spent up until 4am working, and up again at 6am for my son. My husband was an incredible support, but his career forced him to travel out of state most of the week, and I found myself solo parenting and running my own business (never having taken a single business class). I used to lie about my age- I felt like I was too young to be taken seriously as an artist or business owner.
It was learning on the fly, and making mistakes, and owning up to them, and growing from them- both in business and in motherhood. There was no 'Slow Down' button, or 'Tell Me What To Do' button. And then Ron Howard found my work, and everything took off.
and now, at 30 years old, things are more established and more put together, but I'm still learning. Every time a magazine I respect wants to feature me in an article I always have to double check that they have the right person- I still sometimes feel like that young mother shooting her first wedding and not knowing what the heck was going on. I wonder sometimes if they will see through my facade and realize that I'm just like the rest of them- hustling, crossing my fingers to book this wedding or that wedding, feeling defeated when a publication turns down a wedding I loved, burning my candle at both ends with business and motherhood, and always struggling to find the balance.
The confidence is different now though. I've grown into a place where I don't worry: "will I nail this?". the pre-wedding jitters are gone, and it's been replaced with the same anticipatory adrenaline I used to get waiting in the wings to go on stage. I like running the show, I like directing, and I also like the moments when I'm not doing any of that and just quietly photographing the little events that are unfolding in front of me.
Thank you to Click and Lorna Gentry- You guys have truly outdone yourself, and I am feeling a little shy, self-conscious, flattered, and above all grateful that you have taken the time to tell a little of my story, and hopefully it will inspire other young mothers to find a way to turn unexpected events into massive life opportunities.