When did you discover your love of photography?
It's actually pretty funny, this whole journey I've been on. It hasn't been paved in gold and it never was a childhood dream. I had never considered photography as a career, partially because I was so blinded by my desire to enter the corporate world and partly because I had only taken one decent photo of a cat in my lifetime. Looking back, I see God's hand in aligning things for me, but it certainly wasn't a long time passion.
I became interested when I was planning my own wedding and spent my days browsing blogs and websites of photographers. I then paid a girl from my youth group to take our engagement photos for $50 and soon after, I purchased a camera from Craigslist. Months down the road, my brother-in-law was getting married in Jamaica, had heard about my recent Craigslist find and asked if I could take a few photos on their wedding day so they wouldn't have to hire someone from the resort. I said yes, I pretended like I was Annie Leibovitz and voila a star was born. (Okay, no, I did half their wedding on a point and shoot and edited the entire thing in Picnik, but I was on the right track.)
I knew that I loved the creative side and creating art so I jumped full fledged into this dream and started a blog, began advertising, creating a brand, and within one year I booked 25 weddings which allowed me to leave my full time job. My whole philosophy was "fake it 'til you make it" and I knew if I didn't believe in myself, no one would. So I went out into the world and made a name for myself. Four years later and this is my career. In 2015, I will hit my 100th wedding photographed and it's absolutely insane to think back to that sweaty day in Jamaica.
What were you doing before you were a photographer full time?
I worked for Target Corporation as an Executive of Human Resources. I interned with the company my junior year of college and ended up accepting a job offer before I graduated. If you're from Minnesota (like me) you know that Target is a big deal. It's head quarters are set in the Twin Cities and everyone thinks highly of the company so I felt like it was the perfect fit. In my head I wanted to rock my days in a business suit and high heels, have my own office with a leather chair, and own the boardroom. In reality, I had a windowless office with piles of paperwork, I wore red and khaki, and instead of owning the meetings, I spent my days responding to angry guest calls, helping team members with benefits, or taking out the trash. While I worked with an incredible team and was taught so much about leadership, business, and the legalities of human resources, I knew it wasn't a place that I could grow and flourish and I knew that I couldn't do the retail thing for the rest of my life.
What was the defining moment in deciding your passion was worth pursuing?
I have always been a go-getter. Any thing I have dreamed or set as a goal, I have gone after it with reckless abandon. I'm the kind of girl who follows through every single time and my goal of getting out of Corporate America was no different. A few different photographers I had talked to told me to give myself 3-4 years before taking the leap into full time and supporting myself. I told myself that as soon as I could book enough weddings to match my salary, I was out. That magic number was 25 weddings and through God's grace and a lot of sleepless nights, I made it. I worked my job up until wedding season to help cushion my income in case I failed and then I went for it. Deep down in my heart I knew that it would all work out. My greatest advice is to follow your gut and plan, plan, plan. Once I realized that my fears of failing weren't actually that scary, I knew I had to go for it or it would never happen. Fear kills more dreams than failure ever could and I wasn't about to let my dreams slip away. That pure desire to fight for my dreams, to follow my heart, and to just make a go at it led me to where I am today and I am forever thankful that my 23 year old self knew that I could make it!