I thought it might be time for me to get a little personal and tell you a little about me. Well in a manner of speaking anyway. I wanted to tell you what lead me to start my own business in photography. When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with taking pictures. I must've spent more money on film for my little 110 camera then I did on much of anything else. I was obsessed with my mom's 35mm cameras. Always snapping away whenever I could. I have countless boxes of pictures in my house of photos I took of friends, loved ones, pets, school events, pranks, trips, etc. from my childhood. I feel so blessed to have those pictures. Pictures of my loved ones that are now gone or how about that time my cousin Lisa and I dressed up her brother Sam up in my cutest skirt and heels with the best makeup job that only two 10 year old girls could give (clearly we must've been blackmailing the poor kid with some minor infraction). Those pictures tell so much of my story and yet were just the scratching of the surface of the itch I was getting for photography.
When I joined the Navy I was obsessed at boot camp graduation about getting pictures of everyone I had been there with. I am almost positive I have a personal picture of every girl that I went to boot camp with and my company commanders. When I got to my first duty station, I ended up being stationed close to my best boot camp friend. I remember setting up a makeshift studio in the barracks and taking boudoir photos of her for her to send her deployed boyfriend at the time. Who knew that moment would end up being so telling so many years later.
When I met the man I would later marry and had our children my obsession with picture taking only got worse (and remember this was long before phones with cameras). My children will tell you that they have always felt like they are being hounded by paparazzi when they are in my presence. I was always capturing every moment that I could with them. Trying to cherish it and see life through my lens.
Then about 5 years ago, my world was rocked by some pretty horrible personal circumstances. My marriage was failing, my kids were struggling and me? Well I was a hot mess and that was putting it mildly. That's when I turned to my camera. We couldn't afford professional pictures but I wanted so badly to provide them for my family and friends, so I took my kids out to the beach and started snapping away. When I got home and downloaded the pics I was shocked to see just how well they had turned out. I was so excited to share them with everyone. Then a friend of mine saw them and wanted me to take pictures of her boys. So we headed down to the Outer Banks of NC. I looked to the right and told my friend to turn down this random road. The road led us to a bay area that was secluded, the water was warm and there was this little area that was stunning. So I played with posing of her children and ended up with some really amazing images of not just her children but of my own. Then we spent the day playing in the water and I captured candid after candid of the kids playing on a day where they only have memories of the fun they had and not the photography that started the day. My family was healing and my tide was turning.
That was the moment that photography truly chose me. Friends started asking me to photograph their families, their children...their moments. I was hooked and addicted and wanted to do more and more and more. I wasn't charging. I was just enjoying it. I love living in people's moments and experiencing their lives through my lens. After a trip to San Diego on which I had photographed one of my dearest friends with her children, she said to me, "Kierstyn why don't you do this for a living? Why don't you open your own business?" and that was it. That was the start of something crazy and great. I had no idea the work that was ahead of me. I figured, nice camera and a good eye was all I would need. I quickly found out that wasn't all I needed.
I need a business license, knowledge, network, marketing, business skills, etc. So I met with some established photographers, took some classes, took some workshops, studied online information, watched youtube videos until I went cross-eyed. Bought a better camera...oh and then I bought an even better camera and even more gear than I would've ever thought I would need. I thought my work was so good. I was wrong. I was learning to be good. I'm still learning to be good. I was (am still am) in love and it didn't matter what it was going to take to get me there. I was willing to put in the work. I have carried other photographers gear and just watched them work (heck I still love doing that), I worked hard, I am and was a sponge for any tidbit of knowledge others wanted to share with me.
I have heard things like "You'll never make it in this industry", "You suck" and so many other discouraging words. On the other hand, I have heard "You've got a great eye", "You are doing everything you need to do to get to where you need to go" and my favorite "Keep up the good work". What I learned was there so important for not just photography but for all walks of life. There will always be people that want you to fail or want to discourage you because every person holding a camera is competition in their eyes. There will also always be people to encourage your dreams and goals and paint a beautiful picture of wonderful for you. The one's you need to look for and embrace are the one's who give it to you straight. My mentors and good friends in this business are the one's who don't pull any punches with me. They are honest when I suck but they are also the ones who tell me how to get better. Who help me get to where I want to get to. I am blessed to have met some WONDERFUL, AMAZING people in this industry that I call friends and framily. Those are my keepers and I will always be determined to pay it forward because in all honesty there just isn't any paying it back. The debt is just to deep.
So my pay it forward is to help new photographers out there learn the things I know, to constantly learn new things and better myself, to forge friendships with my fellow photographers, to be a woman of my word and to keep letting photography choose me, again and again and again.
I would like to share some pictures from when I first started and a few that are most recent. It feels so good to be able to see my growth. XOXO
These first three are from that session on the beach that I took of my kids because I couldn't afford professional pictures but wanted to have photos for my family and friends.
Here are some from that session in Outer Banks, NC
These next two are from my very first family session which was for a dear friend of mine that encouraged me to start my business. These were the best of the 50 shots I kept. The rest were overly edited, out of focus and just plain not good. Looking back I just didn't realize how much I still needed to learn.
These are from a recent shoot with my daughter and a family session of a dear friend of mine. I still have so much to learn but the progress is amazing!