Making a Wedding Photographer

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana, but live vicariously through the pictures of the places I've been lucky enough to travel to. I'm a hopeless romantic for everything. Foggy seasides, empty cabins in the woods, a dusty book on a shelf, and fleeting moments in small town bars. I'm constantly falling in love with my surroundings and dramatizing the mundane, but to me it is an absolute privilege to have that kind of outlook on the world. Inspiration is everywhere.

When I was young my mom called me "deep". I never understood what that meant until I found myself in photography years later. I had the ability to control every aspect of what I was creating. My camera settings, the scene, the composition, all the way down to developing my own film, and making prints in the darkroom. It allowed me to be the storyteller of whatever I put in front of my lens.

As the time eventually came around to making those big strides towards adulthood, I threw all practicality to the wind and said, "I'm going to be a photographer". Not that photography isn't a practical career, but at the time, I had no idea how to make it a career. I also wanted to go to art school. Upon the recommendation of my favorite teacher, I went to Ball State to show my portfolio and that was it. Decision made. Being a part of the school of art at Ball State was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I still feel constantly blessed for it. I could go on for days, but for the sake of not discouraging you from finishing this post I'll hush here. I was doing a lot of documentary work throughout college and presenting my work in a way that encouraged the viewer to piece together the story, purely based on their assumptions. It was a challenge to me to present the work in an emotional way that really stuck with the viewer. That challenge was my high and I have been chasing it ever since.

I photographed my first wedding in 2013, then a few more in 2014, and by the time I had graduated in 2016, I had many under my belt. Weddings were fun! The energy and emotion, so much to capture and only one chance to get it all. Being trusted to document once in a lifetime moments was and is the driving force behind this amazing job. Yet, I still really didn't know what I was doing. I was just kind of showing up and doing my thing!

Flash forward to July 2019. My cousin was getting married in Colorado and because I was broke as heck, my family made it possible for me to fly out for it. I spent equal time with my grandparents, my cousins I hadn't seen since we were kids, and strangers who quickly became friends. I went from staying in my uncle's spare room in Denver for a few days, to road-tripping five hours and couch hopping in a beautiful mega-lodge in Mountain Village, to a hotel room with my grandparents and parents in Telluride. Every day was a new, incredible experience.

The day of the wedding, I learned that their photographer was a film photographer...just like me! At the time I had no idea there was a place for film photographers in wedding photography anymore and the excitement that came over me was like that of a kid at Disney. I watched her work in amazement the whole day because, holy shit, she is doing exactly what I didn't think was possible. Moving back home after college was a necessary choice, but it completely removed me from my creative environment and, unknowingly, I left behind so much of myself. Spending that week with family, some of us really getting to know each other for the first time, and a bunch self-made twenty somethings from the bridal party was so unbelievably eye opening. There was a moment I excused myself from the group, went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and said, "why are you settling?" It took me three years and a spontaneous 1,500 mile trip from home to realize I am capable of anything I want to do.

That very night I went back to our hotel room and purged everything from my phone that wasn't serving me or my future. I stayed up nearly until the sun rose writing out my game plan of how I was going to make this dream job my reality. So thank you to my family, my cousin's friends, my Appel family, and Faith of Winsome and Wright photography, you don't know who I am, but I am so grateful I was able to see you work.

Now, 2020 treated no one fairly, but my four months sitting at home were not squandered. I put my time and effort into really building the business I always dreamed of. Finding your niche in your photography is everything when there is so much great talent out there. My niche had been there all along, I just didn't know it was an option! I went full throttle and leaned right into my love of film. I created a unique hybrid style of shooting medium format and digital media at weddings, then developed my editing style around merging the two. I made storytelling the foundation of my business, letting myself fall in love with every one of my client's love stories. I started doing portraiture that was exciting and authentic to my clients, not just sit and smile poses. I stopped putting time limits on shoots that stifled creativity, broke us out of the box of generalized expectations, and focused on how to make photography the best experience for my clients as it fit them.

Most importantly, I believed in myself as an artist and "deep" human of this world, that is passionate about telling people's stories, and wants to tell as many as I can.

And that's mine!

I'm all in. For myself, for you, and all my future clients. Let's make something absolutely magical together.

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