My Photography Journey

I thought it would be fun to go back and see how this journey got started. This post may make you smile, it may make you cringe and even make you question my judgement at times. Also this is the longest post I have ever wrote…this is your offical warning.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has had a camera in his hand, taking pictures…of everything. My childhood is well documented. It is also well scrapbooked thanks to my mom. Just head over to my parents’ house if you want to see! Even to this day we can’t go to a restaurant without it turning into a photo shoot with my dinner plate. I think this is what first inspired me to start taking pictures…of everything. Since it all started with my dad, I will take this moment to brag on him. Did you know he is a published photographer? Did you know that Reece’s (my dog-ter) momma is famous in Oklahoma? See for yourself!

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I just love this photo!

Anyways back to my story…

My senior year of high school I decided I wanted to buy a camera. So I dragged my friend to Best Buy after school and bought a $100 pocket camera. Then I began documenting my senior year (I even scrapbooked it!)  My freshman year of college I used that $100 camera to take my boyfriend’s senior pictures (yes…I was dating a younger man.) Even though I don’t have any evidence, they came out pretty good considering all I did was aim and shoot! I should let you know, I knew NOTHING about photography. I just enjoyed taking pictures. After that I decided I wanted to go to school to be a photographer. I told my mom this and she basically told me I was crazy. In her defense…I didn’t know a thing about photography or what it entailed.

My sophomore year of college I was gifted a new camera for Christmas. I got a Kodak something or other….something like this:

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When I got this camera I thought I was the real deal. I mean it was triple the size of my $100 pocket camera…so it had to be legit, right? The day I got it I left for a mission trip to Mexico with some friends. I probably spent more time taking pictures than I did doing actual mission work. But hey, someone had to document it, right? It was on this trip where I met my now husband. I  remember being at the Orphanage where we were passing out Christmas gifts, taking photos of all these children. It sparked my desire to be a photographer again. After passing out gifts, Brian and I were walking around outside talking about my desire to be a photographer someday. I remember Brian saying “What is holding you back? Let’s make it happen.”

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So when we  got back from our Mexico mission trip, Brian talked me into taking a Nature photography class at our local tech school. He even took it with me! I walk into class with my ‘Kodak legit camera’ thinking I was going to show everyone up with my AWESOME camera that I had never turned off of Auto. Then reality hit. I had to worst camera in the class. The teacher asked us to raise our hands on who shot in Manual. “Manual…what is Manual? ISO? Aperture? You mean there is more to a camera then point and shoot?” Insert deer in headlights look.

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A picture of weeds. My homework in my photography class. 

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Brian took this photo while we were trying to capture a sunset for our photography class.

After the class I still did not understand Manual because my camera only had modes such has “Auto, Nightime, Action, etc”.  I continued taking pictures of everything I could (like weeds). Then I was approached by a couple who wanted me to take their engagement photos. Seriously? ME?!? I was so excited!! So I researched all kinds of engagement poses (this is before Pinterist…the struggle was real) and I took their engagement photos at a beautiful park in Tulsa. I picked 5 of my favorite photos and BEGGED my sister to edit them for me, because lets face it, I did NOT know the first thing about editing a photo. (PS. Jake & Kate…you rock for letting me take your engagement photos!)

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These were the first photos I ever got paid for. And of course I immediately went to Forever 21 and spent it all.

Fast forward a couple of years and I graduated from OSU with a Marketing degree. As a graduation gift, my dad gave me his old Nikon D50.

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This is when my photography really began to start. I had just gotten married to Brian (I decided he was a keeper!) and he continued to encourage me to practice and take classes on photography.

I worked at Rib Crib all throughout college and my boss there had just had a baby. She let me take photos of her new baby girl. This was my first newborn session and it was in our living room. If you know my dogs (at the time it was just Sally) you are probably laughing right now. Sally was a wonderful guard dog…almost too wonderful. She barked the entire newborn session, which resulted in a crying baby in my living room. This is why I never bring clients to my house. The fact that Danielle has had me take family photos since then…well she is just the best.

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There is a few things you should know about this session.

1. I grabbed a blanket off my couch and hung it off my dinner table…with books.

2. I thought making the flowers colorful in a black and white photo made me really cool.

3. As I was finding these photos I couldn’t help but laugh and the file names; K&A, A-Pink, A- B&W Flowers….

Anyways….

I took 3 more photography classes at our local Tech school. A Portraits class, Couples class and Wedding Photography class. Because I think you deserve a good laugh, I will show you a few of my  in-class homework assignments. You’re welcome. (Also…for those of you who modeled for me ((mainly Nina)), I am sorry for posting these)

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And now for some of my out of class homework:

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You live and you learn folks. So let’s move on…

Sometime during those 3 classes I learned how to shoot in Manual, got a new camera and returned my dad’s.

So my friend Alyssa happened upon a baby-sitting gig for a wedding photographer. Next thing you know I am invited to tag along at one of her weddings. Ashlee, if you are reading this you are a saint for many reasons, but in this case because you were patient enough to teach me things and not make fun of me for being in over my head. Because boy….was I in over my head. But I learned a lot about what equipment I would need and how to go about shooting a wedding.

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Between that experience and lots of Googling, researching, stalking…I discovered Jasmine Star. She is inspiring and made my desire to be a wedding photographer grow even more. I felt ready to conquer my first wedding…all I needed was a bride! And then, my friend Caitlin asked me to shoot her wedding! What could be better? My first solo wedding with one of my friends! I borrowed an extra camera from a friend (who had the same camera as me), rented a macro lens, external flash, extra batteries…etc. I barely made a profit but I didn’t care. I was beyond excited for the experience of capturing a special day for friends!

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Caitlin & Ryan’s wedding was in January of 2012. I am not gonna lie, I cried on my way because I was so excited to be shooting their wedding! I dragged my husband along to help me which made it even better! The church the wedding took place in did not allow flash photography and the photographer was required to stay in the balcony during the ceremony. In addition it was freezing outside so this all forced me to get creative. It was another huge learning experience but such a fun challenge.

Shortly after their wedding I had the opportunity to go to the FIX. It was a photography conferencey (is that a word?) thing with Jasmine Star and they made a stop in Dallas! I was BEYOND excited but couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I headed to Dallas by myself in hopes to meet Jasmine.

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Here is me telling Jasmine how I had just shot my first wedding and I was about to shoot my second! Even though I only talked to her for 2 minutes, it seemed like we were BFF’s and she was telling me to rock my next wedding! Now let me embarrass myself for just a second. I was so nervous about being there by myself…I sat in the back and looked around at all these photographers talking to one another, catching up, passing out business cards (which I had hurriedly designed and ordered JUST IN CASE) and I just sat there thinking “What do I do?” So I leaned over to the ladies next to me and introduced myself and asked “Are you a photographer?” Duh Emily. Of course she is. She is at a photography conference. So as you could imagine, that conversation didn’t last long.

PS. I didn’t pass out a single card.

After my first wedding and meeting Jasmine Star I gained a lot of confidence. Friends started asking me to take their kids photos, or their engagement photos and slowly asking me to do their weddings. I charged next to nothing for weddings and it wasn’t until a friend/client told me “If you don’t charge me for this session I won’t use you anymore” did I start charging for portrait sessions. At the time I was working at a church and was asked to be a wedding coordinator.  I am so glad I did this! I learned so much about the behind the scenes of weddings (aside from my own wedding) and got to meet a lot of local photographers which allowed me to somewhat get connected in our local photography world and learned a lot about referrals to other photographers.

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Me coordinating a wedding! So much fun!

 Over time I learned how to use Photoshop, I started to blog and eventually created a website. This all meant I needed to do some branding. So I recruited my good friend Julianna (who I met at a photography class) to snap some photos of me for my blog!

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Over time I have dragged my hubs to several weddings and it is always so much fun to do it together!

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Overtime I have built up my client base and done some fabulous weddings. Here are just a few:

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Can I just tell you I have the BEST clients. Like really. A lot of them have stuck with me since the beginning, and I will forever be grateful for each and every one of them! They hold a special place in my heart.

I can not wait to see what the future holds for my business and I love being able to capture memories for people. Getting to do what you love is a true blessing!

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(Photo by Kaitlin Taylor)

Thanks for taking the time to read about my photography journey!

It was fun to look back and laugh at where I came from. (And cringe a little!)

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2 thoughts on “My Photography Journey

  1. My name is Dennis Story, my mother and your grandmother Oleta were cousins. The first time I remember seeing your mother (as a teenager) I had come to Okemah to hunt turkeys on Hollis’s place. Linda had a camera and told me she wanted to be a photojournalist. I didn’t even know what that was. I richly enjoyed what I have looked at here today. Thank you for putting it up.

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