Just a warning, this blog post is pretty super long. For a while now I’ve wanted to write up my “story,” as it relates to photography. I’m often asked, “When did you start taking pictures?” or “How did you get into this field?” Well–here is the answer!
Like many photographers, I fell in love with photography after taking a black-and-white darkroom class in high school. I actually took my first class at Sinclair Community College as a high-school junior. The following year I took Photo II at my high school. As much as I enjoyed photography at the time, I never thought of it as much more than a hobby.
Then, the week after I graduated high school, I saw an ad that MotoPhoto, the local photo lab-slash-portrait studio, was hiring photographers. It seemed perfect—I liked both kids and photography, so why not? I applied and got the job! When I tell people I worked in a mall studio, they usually groan (“that must’ve been terrible!). But, honestly, I got incredibly spoiled. I worked with the most wonderful group of ladies (and a couple dudes), most of whom I still count as some of my best friends. Unlike a lot of those places, we had longer appointments and we were encouraged to be creative, to get to know our clients and to push the envelope of what it meant to be a “mall studio.” I really value my time there for allowing me to learn so many of the things about the photography business: I scheduled appointments, called clients and completed orders; I learned posing principles and Photoshop; and, as we printed the work of so many other local photographers in our lab, I learned about color, what styles I liked and didn’t like, and what kind of photographer I would want to be.
I worked there all while attending the University of Dayton, first as an major in English, then in International Studies, and while I worked at UD’s Flyer News, first as the assistant photography editor, then as the photo editor. That position really allowed me to push myself further as a photographer. It was wonderful to get out of the studio and shoot photojournalistically—I covered sports events, dance and art classes, speakers and musicians, and all sorts of crazy campus shenanigans.
At the same time, while I worked at Moto, people would ask if I was studying to be a photographer. I would laugh, and say something like, “No, I think I’ll probably go to law school.” But more and more people were asking me to take their pictures (including my soon-to-be husband, who tricked me into shooting my first wedding—but that is another story!). I knew that I loved photography, but I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to make a career of it.
Then, grad school for a Masters in International and Comparative Politics. If I’m being honest, the year I took classes was the most stressful of my life. I enjoyed the subject matter I was learning, but it was becoming more and more apparent to me that this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. As more people asked me to photograph them, I kept taking pictures, researching and following the work of inspirational photographers.
The year of grad school was also the year of planning my wedding, which naturally leads to some real soul-searching about what you want life to look like. I didn’t have a totally clear picture, yet, but I knew that I was falling out of love with Political Science, and falling hard for photography. So, early last year, I decided to “officialize” my business, and go for making a career of my passion.
And, that brought me to where I am now! It is funny—once I finally let myself pursue the idea of making this my career, it became apparent how so many of the seemingly-random jobs and experiences I have had have lead me to exactly that point. I’m so grateful for the couples and families that have taken a chance on me as I’ve started out. And now, I just continue to strive to constantly improve, to keep learning, and always be pushing myself to be the best photographer I can be.
Whew! I hope that clarifies a little bit about how I got to where I am. If there is anything else you’d like to know, don’t hesitate to ask!