My photography career all started with a phone call in my fifth-grade science class. About a month earlier, my mom had helped me apply to be on the middle school yearbook staff for my sixth-grade year. We created a fake yearbook using PowerPoint and filled it with pictures I’d taken using her little silver digital camera with a wrist strap (you know the one). We printed it out, bound it together and turned it in with an application stating how much I loved photography. I so wish I still had that document! I’m sure it’s on some old hard drive in my parents’ storage room. But anyway, one day my fifth-grade teacher received a list of all the students that had been selected for the yearbook staff, and I was one of them. I was so excited she let me use the classroom phone to call my mom and tell her the good news!
For the next three years I was on the middle school yearbook staff, and while I hated middle school as a whole, I LOVED yearbook class. We shot in auto and didn’t edit our images, but the teacher was so kind-hearted and always took us on fun adventures around Texas at the end of each year. (See the photo from our trip to Austin). I didn’t learn a lot of solid photography skills in middle school, but it was then that I decided I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up and own my own studio!
I’m pretty sure this was in 7th grade. I don’t remember why we were all in pajamas, but I was rocking that scarf!
In high school, students were required to take a photojournalism class before they could apply for the yearbook staff. So, my freshman year I took the class and learned SO MUCH. My entire foundation for photography was built in this class. We learned how to use a DSLR, how to shoot in manual, the basics of composition, how to edit our photos, and we got a lot of practice. I just recently deleted an album on Facebook that contained the images from my first photojournalism project, and I wish I hadn’t! Otherwise I would totally include some of them here. They were not good, but I was so proud of them!
The next year I was selected to be on the high school yearbook staff and remained on the staff for the next three years. Sophomore and junior year I was a staff photographer, then senior year I became co-editor with one of my best friends. High school yearbook was WAY more stressful than it needed to be. And if I could re-do my senior year knowing what I know now, I would have been a much better editor and made everyone’s lives a lot easier (and maybe wouldn’t have accidentally left all of the C names out of the senior pages…oops. AND wouldn’t have lost one of the school’s cameras. Double oops.) But oh well, I learned so much about photography during this time! Each summer, our staff was invited to a journalism camp in Dallas where we spent a week taking courses that would help us improve our school publications. At these camps, I took intermediate and advanced photography courses that really helped develop my skills with renowned photographers.
Classic mirror pic from freshman year of high school with my first DSLR I bought for Photojournalism class
When it came time for college, I had already decided I was going to Texas A&M no matter what, but unfortunately, A&M didn’t have a photography program of any sorts. So I played around with a few majors, even tried accounting for one semester and got my first D, and landed on a degree in English. After college, I got a desk job as a writer but very quickly started daydreaming about starting my own photography business.
After I made the decision that I was going to start a business, I began reading every blog, article, webinar and educational material I could get my hands on. I learned about marketing, accounting, lighting, posing, editing and basically anything remotely photography related. While I was doing this, I also had to convince Nick that I was serious about this and that we needed to invest in a professional camera. It didn’t take him long to get on board since he’s seriously the most supportive man ever, and we purchased my camera and first lens. I made a social media post saying I was looking to grow a portfolio and my business has basically just taken off from there!
I’m still investing in education and trying to learn everything I can. I’m enrolled in multiple online photography courses and am always saving up for future education opportunities. I make it my goal to improve with each shoot I do and plan to never stop learning, but I love reflecting on how far I’ve come!
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