We all start somewhere. My photography journey began through 4-H.
From the time I started 3rd grade to a senior in high school – every year, I would show livestock at our county fair. I’d also take other projects, like sewing, art, and once, even an interior design project. These projects would get judged and you’d receive a ribbon based on how well you did amongst other 4-H members. And if you did really well, you got a chance to compete with your project at the State Fair. The fair was always a highlight of my summer.
When I was looking at colleges as a senior in high school, I briefly pursued the thought of majoring in photography. At the time, I thought better of it, and decided to go to college for animal science and marketing and communications.
That didn’t really stop me from building on my passion for photography. Before I went to college, I worked my first, real summer job on a garage door assembly line. I had saved up enough money over the summer to buy a “fancy” camera. My first DLSR camera. I Nikon D7000 that came with two kit lenses. It came with me to college. My dream job at the time was to be a photographer in the livestock industry. I wanted to picture cattle for shows and sales.
As a freshman in college, one of the first extracurricular activities I signed up for was to take photos for the college newspaper. It wasn’t terribly exciting, but it did get me out of my comfort zone and forced me to get acquainted with shooting people and events. This little gig didn’t last long. I wanted to get into photographing agriculture-related things instead.
Here’s one the first photos I posted onto my Facebook page. When I thought I needed to have a copyright logo watermark on all of my images. Also heavily edited. But nonetheless, where it all started.
My sophomore year of college, I signed up for a digital photography class. It inspired me pursue photography as more than just a hobby. My photography professor even encouraged me to submit some of my work to the Toledo Museum of Art.
I ended up submitting the corn image along with two other entries. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I received word that my corn image had been accepted. Out of over 600 applicants, my photo titled “All Join Hands,” was one of 92 pieces accepted into the Toledo Area Artists Exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art.
When I arrived at the celebration banquet, in jeans and a North Face coat, I had no idea how prestigious the honor was. I was way underdressed and among amazingly talented creatives. The photo now hangs in my parent’s foyer at their house.
As I finished up college, I kept shooting and got some gigs to photograph at livestock shows. It never took off.
But, I started taking photos of family and friends instead. Of people. Their laughter, smiles, connection, love. I loved that I helped capture these small snippets of moments caught in time.
As a creative, editing these moments turned into an art form. And at a deeper dive, a tangible way to preserve memories. A passion of mine brought on by an earlier life event.
In 2017, I photographed my very first wedding. The rest is pretty much history after that. I caught what I like to call the wedding bug. You either love to photograph weddings, or you hate it. I happened to really love it. Like, really really love it! Since then, my photography business has become people-centered with a focus on wedding photography and stationery design.
When it comes to weddings, I still get nervous. Serving couples on one of the most beautiful and important days of their life is a huge responsibility.
But then I remember my why. Why I do weddings. Why I capture love.
I know they need images to capture memories. To get those memories printed. Pass them down. And share them with others. Just like I needed that one and only photo of my friend.