It was 2007. I was working at First Tennessee Bank. I had just become licensed to sell insurance and annuities. After my very first insurance sale I came home to tell my husband, Chris, that I wanted to start my own insurance business. We had only been married for 2 years and had only lived in Tennessee for 2 years. And did I mention that I was only 21? His response to my wanting to start an insurance business was that it was risky, we didn’t have the start-up funds, we had just bought a house and he was in Iraq… so, he let me down gently pointing out all of our adult responsibilities.
He loved me, though, and could tell I was sad, so he suggested that I do something that I love.
And he mentioned that I loved photos.
So, he suggested I become a photographer. It sounded like a great idea to me and he thought I’d have a good “hobby” to keep me busy (hehe).
I got right to work detailing everything I’d need. I would need a website, a camera, lens, memory cards, a camera bag, and some business cards. I started working on a website before I even started taking pictures. And back then, we didn’t have easy drag and drop websites. I learned to write code and I stayed up for hours figuring it all out. I begged people at the bank to let me photograph them and their spouse (hats off to Jimmy & Jenny (below) - they were the first couple I ever photographed).
Every place I’d go I would tell people I was a photographer and hand them my card. I charged $25 for an hour session and most of the time I’d show up in heels because that’s what I wore to the bank.
Soon I was quite busy and loving it. Not making nearly enough to quit my day job, but I loved it.
I was hooked.
I loved the photography aspect AND the business aspect.
After practicing and begging people to let me photograph them and practicing some more, I quickly became frustrated that I wasn’t getting better faster. I enrolled in a class photography class at Pellissippi State Community College. And then I realized that I didn’t learn photography very well in a classroom setting, and I wanted real life experience.
I feel old saying things like this, but information on the internet was not as easily accessible as it is today.
YouTube was still new and no one was on it.
So, I had to go carry bags. Do some grunt work. And I sought out my favorite photographers. Photographers that I wanted to be just like. They were a husband and wife wedding photography team out of Maryville. I was a THIRD shooter, a light holder, and whatever else they needed. And I am forever grateful to both of them. After a year or two I learned how to be the photographer I had been yearning to be.
This month, March of 2019, I have been a photographer for 11 years.
It’s been hard. I’ve wanted to quit more than I’d like to admit.
It’s been amazing. I’ve photographed over 250 weddings. Made some incredible friends. And some of the very first clients I ever had I still photograph to this day.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! If there is something you want to do, I hope you go after it. It might become just a hobby, but it may become so much more. And you’ll never know if you don’t try.
And because I want to leave you with something pretty, here is one of my latest couple sessions from the fall - Meet Makenzie & Preston