Where do I even begin?!
If we start from the beginning… my crazy life started in Beaufort, SC which was my parent’s first duty station after they were married (#navybrat). I was lucky enough to live all over the country (and travel the world). I got to live in Mississippi, California, Maryland, Italy and Virginia – can you guess which one was my favorite? ?
If you ask me where I’m from most of the time I say, Virginia. I was lucky enough to be there for 6th-12th grade which is the longest I had lived anywhere untilllllll Hilton Head. My passion for photography started on my 16th birthday when I convinced my parents to get me a Nikon D3000 as a combination birthday/Christmas present. Sidebar – December is a busy month for me. It’s my birthday, engagement-versary, Christmas, AND wedding anniversary (poor Mat and my insanely high gift expectations).
From there my passion for photography continued to grow. Although looking back at those images my first few years I can’t help but cringe at the composition, posing, and editing ?. Everyone has to start somewhere though #amiright?!
I always had an entrepeneur mindset, even from a young age. There was a time in middle school where I was obsessed with scrapbooking and card making (which somehow my grammy ended up with all of them and sends them to me STILL to this day). From a young age, my parents taught me that I had to work for the things I wanted in life and that they wouldn’t just be handed to me. I unloaded the dishwasher for 10 cents, mowed the lawn for $5, and took the trash out for 50 cents (I guess this was before inflation hit the economy? ?).
In 2011 my business Coastline Photography was born and I shot through my junior and senior years of high school when I started to take on paying clients. For a whole $20 per session, I might add. Shoutout to all those mamas who supported me and my big dreams back then! My camera followed me down to Bluffton when I started college in 2012, although I didn’t shoot much because adjusting to college life 500 miles away from your family was a big deal… But I had friends who still supported my dream!
I really wish I would have done a better job at saving files back then… but the earliest ones I have are from 2015… ready for a little trip down memory lane? We all started somewhere. And I’m EXTRA thankful for the clients who have stuck with me through the years! (I’m looking at you, Cynthia! You’re my longest partner in this and I’m beyond thankful for you.)
Through the rest of my college years, I shot a little bit of everything. Families, maternity, newborns, and couples. Seniors were my favorite to shoot, especially during my own senior year. After I graduated I took a hiatus from my business so I could focus on teaching… I don’t think there’s any amount of prep that could get you ready for your first year of that… but I made it out the other side and was so glad to be following my *lifelong* dream of being a teacher. Seriously. Ask anyone from my childhood and all I EVER wanted to do was be a teacher… to this day, I still feel teaching is a big calling of mine. I love helping people and seeing that light bulb go off in their heads no matter what age they are. But working in the public school system left much to be desired and I felt nothing but burnout, exhaustion, and helplessness every single day.
I made the dive back into photography in 2019 when I became a licensed business. Let me tell you… adding a license to your business is a total game-changer. I guess the reason I didn’t do it sooner is that teaching was my *career* and photography was just a side hustle. But once I realized the penalties of running a business without a license (in Bluffton alone there are fines up to 1k/day you’ve been in business without one) I made the plunge which wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be!
In that first year of being a licensed business, I made about 8k. I had no idea what to charge, was severely undercutting the local market, and was still a work in progress. Since I was a teacher I wasn’t dependent on the income, which I thought justified charging less. Little did I know…
If I’ve lost you at this point, I’ll spare you the details of what comes next… but if I have you sitting at the edge of your seat ? stay tuned for part 2! Read about it HERE!
September 1, 2021