How I Got Started in Photography

So today I thought I’d share a little bit more about myself. You’ve been reading the emails that appear in your inbox every week, scrolling through my photos on Instagram, and hopping over here to the blog. Maybe you’ve even spied a few pictures of my curly headed trio. If you’ve wondered who I am or how in the world I got started in photography & ended up here talking to you, pull up a chair. (And coffee….always coffee.) ☕

I always knew exactly what I wanted to do….to be. On any given day of my childhood, you could find me in the makeshift classroom my parents put together for me, grading fake papers and talking to my invisible students sitting at invisible desks. I was going to be a teacher.  I loved to teach. Still do.  As a bonus, I also loved the tools of the trade: markers, crayons, stickers, charts, and chalkboards. (I still love a good office supply aisle.) 🖊️

I took every opportunity to work with kids. In high school, I babysat the principal’s kids. In college, I was a summer camp counselor at the YMCA. I spent four years at Purdue University being trained to be an elementary teacher. After graduating and teaching a year in Indiana, I moved to South Carolina with my then fiancé and taught first grade, going on to earn my Master’s degree in education. 

We got married and a few years later, our son came along. 

Photos by Forrest Clonts 2012

He caused me to pause. A great big, long pause right there in the middle of my well-laid plans. All of a sudden, I couldn’t imagine leaving him in someone else’s arms every morning as I drove to school in the dark. I pictured myself wondering how he was while I paced the playground on recess duty or thinking about his favorite book as I read a different one aloud to my first graders every afternoon. I spent the summer weighing my options and eventually turned in the keys to my classroom that I loved so much. 

The next August, as all of my teacher friends prepared to return to school, I snuggled my son on the couch with a cup of coffee & The Today Show. I wondered who was living in my classroom then. Which students would have been mine? It felt odd, out of place not to be returning to a classroom for the first time ever. It also felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

Sometime in those first several months, I had picked up our new DSLR camera, signed up for Intro to Photography at the local university, and was starting to develop a real interest in it. (Much more on that in another blog post.) If nothing else, I was having fun taking pictures of our baby boy. It would be another couple of years until I decided to try my hand at making it into a business.

When my son was a year old, I started to grow restless. Should I go back to the classroom? I wasn’t quite ready. But my parents had moved down to South Carolina and were wanting to watch him, freeing me up to do something. That fall I started teaching for an online public charter school, allowing me to teach second graders all over the state from my own home. 

In the next few years, our daughter came along and my photography business began to grow, leaving me exhausted. I was staying up past midnight editing photos alone in my office while my family slept. I started to dream about stepping away from teaching again and taking photography full time. I dreamt alongside my husband, who tends to believe in me just a little bit more than I can manage to believe in myself. At the end of a long, indecisive summer, I made a scary phone call to put in my resignation.  

I went to work scaling my photography business to something that could sustain me as a full time job. I dropped my son off at kindergarten, my daughter at my mom’s house, and went to work in my home office several days a week, spending many evenings around town on photo shoots and weekends away at weddings. When our third baby came along, my schedule (and life) changed yet again. Luckily I felt confident enough in the client base I had built that I was able to scale back and take time snuggling my baby again. (Although I may have been found photographing a wedding just 6 weeks after my c-section. Oops.) 

As I type this, my youngest just turned a year old and I can feel myself gearing up to get back to it. Over the past few months, my mind has been turning over new ideas. I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how I can piece together my well-earned skills in teaching, photography, and motherhood. After shifting around in different ways these past few years, it’s become clear to me that I’ll always be a teacher. Part of me lights up when I get to share something I know with someone else and see them really understand it. There’s no new job title that will change that. 
I also get giddy with excitement when I get to try something new behind the camera and take joy in loving on my clients. And there’s no denying that becoming a mom three times over has changed me in inexplicable ways, in ways that only another mother can really understand.

So I love talking to other moms, commiserating, laughing, and rolling our eyes at the chaos. It’s why I started a local moms’ group when my firstborn was just a baby and why I can be found meandering around libraries, church foyers, and Target chatting with other moms.

So stick around as I flesh out how I’ll meld these skills and loves of mine together to serve you well. I have some big ideas and I’ve been working hard behind the scenes on putting together some great resources for you. When I’m ready to share them with the world, you’ll be the first to know.

If you found your way here another way and are not already getting emails from me, drop your info below & pull up a chair.

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Until Next Time!

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