Dreams come true. It might take four years (and a lot of hard work).

June 13, 2013 § 3 Comments

It is an intense and exciting and risky-as-hell season.

I’m about 99.84% okay with it.
There hasn’t been a lot of time for blogging because, well, there hasn’t been a lot of time for sleeping.  I haven’t attended a service at my church in over two months and, apparently, the Lumineers are playing in Raleigh tonight.  Who knew?

Right out the gate, as per usual, let’s get real.
I miss you.
I miss long conversations about nothing and laughing ’til I cry and bourbon on my front porch.  I live inside social media because I want to know how you are and where you are and my arms really want to hug you.

But, flying this big beast of a plane with my name on the tail is not easy.
I’m not complaining, really.  Sincerely.
It is incredible to be at the point where we are mostly off the ground and I’m in the pilot’s seat going “Dear baby Jesus, if you could please send a co-pilot via fancy transporter beam that would be GREAT”.

Four years ago, this was barely a blip on my radar.  I was three (or four, I’m not sure) semesters into my degree at NC State University & I had taken a total of two photography classes.  All of my gear could fit in my purse and cost less than $1500.  Total.  I had sold my car a few years earlier, was working at a high-end restaurant part-time, and just getting to the grocery store was a struggle.  There was a LOT of mac and cheese (sometimes just the mac – cheese is expensive, yo!), I walked everywhere, and was just coming out of a very long relationship that broke my heart more than I was willing to give it credit at the time.  By all accounts, I was your typical struggling college student.  Except I was 27.

Some really good friends approached me.
“We are kind of broke.  We’d really like engagement photos.  Would you take them?”
Of course I did.


Jerod + Daniela – 2009

And then, would I capture their wedding?
Of course I did.


Wedding Day! 2009

Jerod Johnson + Daniela Gillikin got married on an incredibly hot July day in eastern North Carolina and me and my primitive gear were there for the whole weekend.  Her Italian family captured a few of my heartstrings for the rest of our lives and the Johnson’s have a special place in the house that is my heart.  At the end of it all, I was sweaty, exhausted, and HOOKED.

The Johnson's - 2009.

The Johnson’s – 2009.

The Johnson's -2013

The Johnson’s -2013

In 2009, I didn't spin her amazing dress once.  Learned that lesson.

In 2009, I didn’t spin her amazing dress once. Learned that lesson.

But, I had no idea how to jump in to such a thing.  There is no formal training program for a wedding photographer.  Where do I even get started?  I considered transferring to schools in New York City and Toronto and San Francisco.  Something, though, just kept saying “Stay”.  So, I stayed.

Later that same year, some friends of the Johnson’s asked for engagement photos.  And then, her bridals.  And then, their wedding.  And on another incredibly hot July day, David Mobley + Lauren Ward were married in a gorgeous chapel in Charlotte, NC.  I took another shooter for the first time.  We hit some serious speed bumps and I was so green I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.  At the end, the families were radiant.  “THANK YOU!” was their overwhelming response.
Definitely hooked.

Until recently, I have not advertised.  It has strictly been word of mouth. People tell people who tell people.  Every new email blows my mind.
Granted, I am not perfect.
I definitely have had other speed bumps.
However, at the end of the day, my goal is to treat people with as much kindness and consideration as I can and to learn from every single mistake.

Lauren Ward Mobley - spring of 2010.  Winston Salem, NC

Lauren Ward Mobley – spring of 2010. Winston Salem, NC

Sarah Picklesimer Baysden - spring 2013.  Charleston, SC

Sarah Picklesimer Baysden – spring 2013. Charleston, SC

I strive to make weddings different and I rarely shoot the same pose twice.  While my turn around time has improved by 50% (or more) and my processing time has been cut in half, when I give a client images it’s still a bit nerve wracking. 🙂
If you hear very little else, know this:
When a photographer captures your image and spends hours with it, it’s like we know you.  We watch your facial expressions and laugh as we remember moments from the day.  Creating art and gifting it to you is like walking up to your front porch with a piece of us in a box.  It’s wrapped in brown paper and a pretty ribbon.  We leave it on your porch, ring the doorbell, and go hide around the corner.  We hold our breath.  We pray you love it as much as we love it.  And, if you don’t, we want to make it right.  Even though money is exchanged, it is still a gift and no one wants to give terrible gifts.

Four years later and over 100,000 shutter clicks and here we are.  I never did transfer and Raleigh is still the home base.  There never was any sort of formal training.  Like a lot of my life, I stood on the cliff, prayed over my parachute, and jumped.  Maybe I got pushed.

This fall, I’ll be traveling to Milan, Italy for my first international wedding to capture the day of Fabrizio + Alice.  My second shooter will fly in from London (yeah, Faith!) and I am fairly certain that Italy, like Daniela’s family, will capture a few of my heartstrings for the rest of our lives.

It has been a long and crazy and winding road these past four years.
I wouldn’t trade it for the whole wide world.
Thank you for joining on this journey.
Your support and encouragement and feedback means everything.
All my Love,

Wedding of 275 – 2010. Team of 2. Hair up and big earrings. Had no idea about great straps. My right arm nearly fell off.


Wedding of 275 – 2013. Team of 5. Hair is comfortable and no earrings as they stick to the strap I typically wear. My right arm is still with me.


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§ 3 Responses to Dreams come true. It might take four years (and a lot of hard work).

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