How I got Started with Photography
I didn’t plan to become a professional photographer when I first picked up a camera.
I was first introduced to photography because knew a girl in high school who was friends with a professional photographer. This classmate shared the photos they took together, and I loved those images. I clicked over to the photographer’s facebook page and I repeatedly would go over her portfolio and drool.
I wanted to look that amazeballs. So for my sixteenth birthday, I told my mom that I wanted to have professional photos done of me and my two best friends. I didn’t know anything about photography. But I was super excited for the photo shoot, and I really wanted these pictures to turn out well. I thought it was on me to pose the friend group (It’s not. Part of the job of the photographer is to make sure you look good and don’t have to wonder what to do). I Pinterest-ed hard for inspiration, and when the shoot came around I was ready. I ended up loving those photos and the experience so much.
Photo credit to Megan Skye Photography
I had so much fun and I wanted more. I got a Canon Rebel in my junior year of high school, but I had no idea what to do with it. I arranged “photoshoots” with my friends but didn’t even know enough about how to use a camera to put it in manual mode. I basically used my new toy as a glorified iPhone. Luckily, the internet offers plenty of educational resources, and I’d stay up late researching how to improve.
I read about the exposure triangle online and set out to practice. My good friend Caity and I wandered around downtown Salt Lake together taking pictures, and I was so very proud of those images. I knew nothing about light, but I got lucky with the weather. Caity and her mom also liked these images and later in 2015, they told me they wanted me to take Caity’s senior photos.
I offered to do them for free, but her mom insisted on paying me. That was my first paying “client” $50 was the first money I’d ever made myself. At seventeen years old, this was the first money I’d ever made. I was shook. I didn’t know anything about lighting or editing on this first paid shoot, and I remember feeling really bad that I couldn’t deliver images that looked as “good” as I wanted. I took to the internet again to figure out what I was doing wrong.
Throughout my senior year, I shot senior photos for more of my girlfriends for <$50. Every time I picked up my camera, I noticed myself improve. I started a photography Instagram and started sharing my work and advertising my service. After college applications were over, I had free time and really delved deep into getting better. I got to a level where I actually knew what I was doing and felt proud of my work. I wanted to shoot more, but I didn’t know how to find clients. It was honestly frustrating. I graduated high school only ever shooting teenage girls from my high school.
The Summer before college, I posted on Craigslist saying that I wanted to take photos for free of a couple. I was thinking I’d do an Engagement Shoot kind of session, but I was contacted by a bride named Xauntal who asked me to photograph her wedding reception. This would be my first time attending a wedding. This would be my first time photographing a wedding. This would be my first experience photographing an adult! I hesitated and then agreed. I can’t tell you how much time I spent researching what to do.
I graduated from high school and moved from Utah to California. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t know how to continue my business in a new state. Luckily, within my first semester at Berkeley, an online workshop featuring many prominent photography teachers was held for free online. I watched it and it opened my eyes to what was possible. The professional photographers talked about things they had done to build up their thriving businesses and how to serve clients better. The content was really intriguing and inspiring to me.
I decided to get real with my photography business. Photography was something I was always very passionate about, but I needed to take myself more seriously in order to continue doing it.