Contrary to what many might believe, I haven’t been a photographer for all that long. It’s only been 5 years since I decided to start a photography business. Prior to that I was shooting for fun, but only for about 6 months.
Although I have a fine art background and had been drawing nudes for many years, photography didn’t call my name until after I had my daughter. When I had her, I was working full time in a family business. My husband and I decided it would be best for me to stay at home with her for at least the first few years. As any mom does, I took a million photos of my daughter. I wanted to capture every moment. Sadly though, I was really unimpressed with the images I was getting and forget that 2 second lag most point and shoots had back then. What a pain! So my husband surprised me (ok it wasn’t really a surprise since I dropped a ton of hints) with a DSLR for the holidays.
I couldn’t WAIT to use it. I ripped it out of the box, put the memory card in and realized there were a bunch of knobs and dials I had NO clue how to use. Yikes…The camera gathered dust for about a year. I never took ONE photo. So my husband hired someone to come in and teach me about photography. He threw around a lot of complicated words and numbers and then he left. I was more confused.
See, I am not stupid. I just didn’t have any motivation to learn.
A few months later that changed. I was trying to get pregnant with baby #2. In order to spare the long story, let’s just say it wasn’t going so well. It was a very tough time for me. My daughter was now in preschool a few hours a day and I had time to kill. That time often left me many hours to think about the tough time I was having. So one day, in an effort to distract myself from my own thoughts, I picked up my camera and the book “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson and I had at it.
I put a glass on my table and took a photo of it. Then I changed the aperture and I clicked the shutter again. So on and so forth. I did this over an over again in different scenarios and different settings. Aperture mode, Shutter mode, ISO 200, ISO 1600, inside, outside, with objects, with people, in the light and in the dark. I did it again and again until I felt I understood it up and down.
Thankfully I was distracted. I was feeling upbeat and excited about creating something beautiful. I was not only teaching myself photography, I was improving my life!
I was taking photos every day. I was posting them and sharing them with friends. I was just having a blast. One day my Aunt (who marries people for a living) asked me if I would be interested in shooting some of the NYC elopements she does. I said no. I didn’t want to be responsible for something as intense as a wedding (small or not). I was just having fun.
Three days later I got a call from a gentleman named Fred. It was a Tuesday. Fred was getting married that coming Saturday and he told me Reverend Alison (my aunt) recommended me. He asked me what I charge.
That was a good question. I was completely unprepared for this!! I threw out a random number, and boom. He hired me. Now what?
At that moment I ran out and bought memory cards and back up drives and anything I thought a “real photographer” needed. I shot the wedding. It was a great experience for me. As a stay at home mom I got out of the house, I spent time with grown ups for a change, did what I loved… and someone PAID me for it. I was immediately hooked.
I shot a few more small weddings when a photographer friend of mine asked me to go on a shoot with her one afternoon. She was shooting two sisters in a hotel room. It was a boudoir shoot. Let’s not pretend like she asked me because I was such a good photographer. If I am being honest, she asked me because my camera was better than hers and in case she needed to borrow it, I would be there.
We entered a horrendously ugly yellow hotel room (good thing I didn’t know any better!) and photographed the two sisters. To say I loved it was an understatement. I ran home to my husband and exclaimed “I know what I want to be when I grow up!!! A boudoir photographer!”
Everyone thought I was crazy. Thankfully my amazing supportive husband didn’t. He said to go for it, and I did! I called my friends, begged them to let me take photos of them in their skivvies and 48 hours later, I had a website up, my boudoir business was born and the rest, as they say, is history.
PS… It’s funny how life works. If I didn’t have all the complications getting pregnant, I would never be a photographer today. I also wouldn’t have my amazing son who I got pregnant with about 2 weeks after my first paid shoot. I really learned a beautiful lesson about life, love and making lemons into lemonade!