Behind The Lens: Creating A Career From Your Passion

Fine Art Wedding, a book by Jose Villa, just arrived on my doorstep. Where one of my favorite current photographers shares his own passion and exploration of his journey as a wedding photographer.  If anyone ever told me ten years ago I would be a full-time photographer I would have just laughed and said “Sure and live off bread crumbs?” No that wasn’t me, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist or work in corporate communications.

When I first arrived at TLU in 2001 I double majored in Communication Studies and Dramatic Media. I was involved in Student Government, Yearbook, Greek Life and several other organizations. I was the girl who left her dorm at 7:30 in the morning and wouldn’t come back to the room until 9:30 that night. My weeks were filled with 18 hours worth of classes, meetings and working for the Campus Police Department.  I think the biggest thing I learned my freshman year was how to manage my time and not pull all my hair out. I had a schedule book that was completly filled up. I loved every minute of it because I was involved in so much and each activity I was involved with I met so many amazing people who were just as passionate as I was.

When I graduated in 2004 from TLU I headed into the corporate world because that is what you do after graduation right? Get a job and start earning the big bucks, right? Sorry, but for me it was a little harder than that. I missed school, I missed the environment and interaction. I went back to school at St. Edward’s University and graduated in 2007 with  a Masters in Liberal Arts. After that I worked in the marketing department for a government contractor for three years and still  there was something missing. The regular routines, meetings, coffee breaks were making me feel older than I was. I was being drained of any creative flare I had. Don’t get me wrong, I was learning how to forecast, budget play the politics game and network, but I needed more. I needed something that made me happy again, something where I could have those interactions with people on a different level.  That’s when the saying,” you have to spend money to make money” came in to play and I decided to do the one thing that always made me happy, photography.

I started following photographers who caught my eye, their style, their workflow everything was making me eager to learn again and be creative. I started saving and working towards buying all of my equipment and creating all of my marketing material. I researched the ins and outs of owning a business and being successful. I talked with others who owned their own business and started second shooting with other photographers at weddings. I was open to anything and wanted to get the experience and knowledge under my belt before I made the leap.

My first job was photographing a four year old boy, he was adopted from Ethiopia and his mom and dad started an organization to help bring books and supplies over to Ethiopia every year. I took my entry level camera to their house and started snapping away. When I sent the family the pictures they were speechless. They loved them all and then something happened, that spark, passion and eagerness was back. I loved the feeling of handing over my work to someone and getting such positive feedback in return.

Photograph from my first photography session. Circa 2008

When I decided to go full-time three years later there were so many things I had to consider. Insurance, taxes, budgeting, cutting cost, marketing, and so much more whirled around in my head constantly and many challenges arose.  The best advice I was given was to network, network , network. To me everyone is a potential client. How I represent myself to others and my work should speak for itself. I always seek feedback from others because that is what helps me grow. I welcome challenges daily so that I can gain experience from them. Since January of this year I have been self-employed. Yes, it is scary at times, but meeting so many unique, amazing people and capturing a certain moment in time for them makes me whole, it makes me feel alive and I am doing what I am passionate about on a daily basis. I now own my own wedding photography business and family studio in Buda.

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