My Story…


I’ve been asked several times how I got started in photography.  And I always tell people that I kind of fell into it.  I have a brief bio up here on my site, but I’ll go into a bit more detail for those of you interested in hearing my story.

So, did I always know I wanted to be a photographer?  Absolutely not.  A long, long time ago in a land not so far away  I was enrolled in the University of South Carolina as a fashion merchandising/retail major.  As part of the curriculum there I was required to do an internship the summer before my senior year.  I knew I didn’t want to get into the retail portion of the industry and have always been a very creative person, so I decided I wanted to try my hand at working for a fashion magazine.  I was blessed enough to get into Essence Magazine’s summer internship program in their fashion and beauty department.  That internship took me to NYC and I truly loved every minute of it.  The two most memorable parts of working there included a fashion spread with famed celebrity photographer Marc Baptiste and the cover shoot with singer Mary J. Blige where I was able to assist.  Now even though I worked in this industry I still didn’t know I wanted to get into the field of photography.  What that internship did teach me was that I wanted no parts of living in NYC permanently.  I always considered myself a city girl, but I think deep down I’m a country girl at heart and NYC was a bit too fast paced for my liking.  So I graduated from USC and of course the only options for my degree in the area I lived in required me working in a retail store which I absolutely did not want to do.  At the time my father had just started his own insurance agency and offered me a position which I reluctantly agreed to take on.  I mean, how do you go from working in this amazing fashion industry to sitting behind a desk selling auto insurance policies?  But here I am 12 years later and I’m now part owner of our agency and actually enjoy the industry and being self-employed.  Owning this business has helped me so much in starting my photography business.  Experience is truly the best teacher.

My creative inkling never left me though.  So in early 2009 I decided I wanted to buy a ‘fancy’ camera and take a class on how to take nice photos.  Not to get into the photography industry, but just to take nice personal photos.  I enrolled at a local college for a beginner’s course in photography and after the course was over I purchased my Nikon.  I was so excited that I took pictures of any and everything I found interesting…my best friend’s dog, flowers at my mother’s house, butterflies, etc.  It wasn’t until April 2011, two years after taking the course, that I took photos of my first human subject in what would be considered a portrait shoot.  I had recently purchased a home in a new city and discovered this beautiful park that I just had to use as a backdrop!  So I talked my best friend (God bless her!) into meeting me there along with her dog so I could take their photos, free of charge of course.  And I posted them onto my personal Facebook page.  From there things snowballed.

I started to receive emails and Facebook messages asking how much I charged and people telling me how much they loved my work!  How much I charged?  “Ummm…nothing, I’m not an actual photographer” I would laugh off.  Until someone came to me with a serious inquiry.  Like they needed photos done immediately.  I wasn’t sure if photography was something I actually wanted to get into, but other people seemed to like my work enough and it was something I enjoyed doing so I decided to give it a go.  It wasn’t until a year or so after that I started my photography Facebook page advertising myself.  And then in 2013 when I would be bold enough to brand myself and really go after this new dream of mine full force.  Would I have changed some things about how I went about all of this if I had to do it over again?  Sure, but did this way work for me?  You bet!

So what would be my advice to any upcoming photographers?  In such a heavily saturated market you have to be able to separate yourself from the masses.  And you can only do that by really learning and honing your craft.   I see new photogs all the time that want to get into the field one week, buy a camera the next week and by the following week they’ve already got a website up and are advertising themselves.  Do I think those businesses will last? I could be wrong, but it’s doubtful.  I can understand being so excited about something that you want to jump in right away, but with the help and understanding of photographers who I admire and have given me advice along the way, I’ve come to realize slow and steady does win the race in this game.  Practice and learn as much as you can before calling yourself a professional and start charging people for your services.  I read an article recently that stated you should never charge for your services unless you can produce consistent results of your work and I couldn’t agree more.  You only want to showcase your best and if you’re putting out mediocre work you won’t last.  My journey has been far from fast.  It took me 4 years from the time I took my first class until I actually branded and advertised myself as a professional.  Now do I think it should take everyone that long?  Of course not!  Your pace is yours and my pace is mine.  But what I do know is that overnight success is a rarity in this business.  Give yourself time to get  the technical as well as creative aspects down.  And no, you’ll never be perfect or where you want to be.  I’m still far from where I want to be but I’m striving each day to work harder and improve myself.  Never become complacent and always try to be better than the person you were yesterday.


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