I'm STILL Self-Employed: An Update

Well. I've been self-employed for six weeks now. I'm still adjusting and figuring out how this whole thing works but I thought I'd give you a little insight into what the life of a full-time photographer looks like!

There are some DEFINITE perks. As you can tell by these photos that my roommate took, I've gotten to have some fun with my physical appearance. My hair is really pale mint at this moment (the green color was from the day I colored it) and I'm actually looking forward to being fully blonde again BUT I love that my weird ideas are not limited by a corporate job.

The core of the change, though, is my schedule. My cousin Bret told me that being a small business owner means I get to choose which 100 hours of the week I work and he couldn't be more right. I love getting to go to the gym during the day and being able to schedule random coffee or lunch dates during the week. Sometimes I go to concerts on a Tuesday knowing I can sleep in the next day or I get to take a Thursday off for a day trip with friends. But, on the flip side, I also spend some nights editing until really late and I miss a lot of events with family and friends because I'm working 9-12 hour weddings on the weekends. Actually...weekends aren't really a thing anymore. I lose track of what day it is a lot. A LOT.

My days (and nights) are filled with emails, texts, brainstorming, weather forecasting (poorly), social media posts, blogs, scheduling, mileage tracking, taxes and a heck ton of editing (on top of the actual sessions). There isn't a magical abundance of time like I expected there to be, so I have to get better at structuring my schedule to allow time for extra projects like pricing brochures and learning the ins and outs of SEO as well as finding time to shoot purely for creativity's sake - all very necessary things. On the other side of that, I've been accused of not knowing how to take a full day off, so I guess I'm still adjusting to the fact that I DON'T have an 8-5 job and that I don't have to fill everyyyy moment of my spare time with photography work to keep my head above water. Of course, June is absolutely packedddd with weddings, so I don't see myself trying to slow down just yet. 

Every once in awhile, when my roommate and I are both sitting in our office editing, I stop and ask her "How crazy is it that we get to do this for our jobs?" and we agree it is the best. Then there are days when I ask, "Are we absolutely crazy for doing this for our jobs?!" and we agree that it is a hard life. Some days I am overwhelmed by the fact that I am living out my dream. Then some days I'm just overwhelmed with all that it entails. But no matter what, I know I am crazy blessed to get to spend my days doing this. The last six weeks of my life have been amazing and I'm SO looking forward to seeing how things grow and progress as I settle into living the life I was created for.

Thank you all, again, for your support and prayers and even your understanding and patience. It means the world to me and I have such dear love for you.

OKAY - time to go shower...mmkay BYEEEE.

Sarah+Brandon

You guys. It has been a minute since I've written anything. I quit my job a month ago (howwww has it already been a month?!) and I haven't posted a blog since. My bad! My life turned upside in many amazing ways at that time and I'm still trying to figure out this new work schedule of mine. It is a work in progress.

So, to try and catch up a little bit, here is Sarah and Brandon's wedding from earlier this month! Settle in, my loves, because this one is a longgggg one.

There was so much love and joy and emotion (aka tears from many, manyyy people) on this day that even I, a non-family member who had only met the couple face-to-face once, could feel it as soon as I arrived. Sarah and Brandon are absolutely smitten with each other! I mean, just check out his reaction to seeing her walk down the aisle. Swoooon! They didn't leave each others' sides the entire night except to pull people onto the dance floor (including me). They even snuck away at sunset to dance in an open field and the stickers covering Sarah's dress served as proof. But she'll tell you that it was worth it, I promise! 

I just adored my time with this precious couple, sooo here are about one million photos of them. Enjoy!

One Big Ole Announcement

Sit down and listen up. Are you ready? Are you sure? Am I hyping this too much? Possibly. Anyways...

I am officially a full-time, self-employed photographer as of 12pm today. Oh gosh, those are words I never expected to say…or type. It has been a bit of a whirlwind but also a long time coming. And no matter how long I've been anticipating saying those words, I am still overwhelmed by it all in the best way possible.

When I was in college, I remember knowing other kids who were “photographers” (they took cool photos of their food and friends pre-iPhone Portrait Mode and called themselves photographers) and I was always so impressed by it. But I never, ever contemplated it being something to pursue for myself. When I bought my first DSLR in 2012, it felt like a fun hobby I could use for my family but that was as far as my thoughts wandered. Even after I began accumulating gear I had only dreamed about, I didn’t identify as a legitimate photographer. I was just someone who took decent photos and had some extra money to invest in cool toys. As I booked more jobs and my hobby took over my free time (aka my whole life), people would ask me if I wanted to go full time and I ALWAYS said, “That’s the dream. Maybe in two or three years.” But deep down, it was a dream I didn’t dare to dream. Dreaming big is scary as crap.

Cut to fall wedding season in 2016. It was the busiest I have ever been in my life. Between my 8-5 corporate job and photography, I worked 80 hour weeks for about 6-8 weeks. I told myself that I could do anything for a season but, by the end, I realized I couldn’t do that to myself again. Homegirl needs sleep and I’m not talking about the kind I was getting by putting my head down on the dinner table while we waited for our server to bring our checks. So in December 2016, the idea of giving up my steady income to really devote myself to photography suddenly didn’t seem so farfetched. In fact, it even seemed like the reasonable decision! If I wanted to be able to invest my time the way I needed to grow my business past where it was at that exact moment, I couldn’t do it while having an 8-5. Otherwise, I would always be paddling to just keep my head above water and never actually moving forward. My initial plan was to wait until September 2017 to make the leap (because…paychecks) but, as my calendar filled in faster than I expected, it settled into my spirit that April was the time.

I told God (my ultimate Boss Man) that if He was expecting me to do something so much bigger than I was capable of doing alone, He would have to do it for me. I needed 1) a minimum of 20 weddings for the year (to put that in perspective – I only had 9 weddings for my own company in 2016) and 2) a cheaper place to live. The wedding bookings came. The place to live was dropped in my lap (along with an amazing roommate whose photography business is years further down the road than mine). Confirmation after confirmation came out of the woodwork leading me here – day #1 of surrendering to this dream that still seems so ridiculous to be mine. But I’m so incredibly overjoyed and grateful that it is mine and it is here. Today is the day my life changes in the biggest way yet.

2017 is going to be one heck of a wild ride and I’m just going to hold on tight and let my God lead the way. Thank you for going on this journey with me! I love you all!

PS - Photo cred goes to the always amazing Rachel Hicks. Thanks for taking care of me!

Why I Adore Bridals

Let's talk about bridal sessions. They aren't that common place and I get it 1000%! It is an added expense to an already tight wedding budget. But let me tell you why I loveeee them and I always will:

  1. It is an opportunity for you and I to get to know one another and get comfortable working together and it will help put you at ease taking photos on your wedding day. Psh...after an hour playing model, you'll feel like an old pro workin that camera, girlllll!
  2. It is a chance to test your hair, makeup and bouquet before your wedding day. (I've had more than one client switch things up after having this test run).
  3. Your wedding dress is likely the most beautiful dress you will EVER wear and it will make you feel like a dang princess so I think that you should wear it more than once. And you should twirl. A lot.
  4. Your wedding day will be busy, busy, busy. A bridal session gives us tons of time to play around and get creative, giving you so many unique and romantic images.

These particular photos are from a styled shoot I just did with the floral genius behind Olive Grove Design. Due to a rainy forecast, the clouds were heavy and the wind was a-blowin. And I couldn't be more in love with the darker, moodier look that resulted! I want to send out a HUGE thank you to Olivia for making this happen and providing the beautiful bouquet and hair pins. And a special thanks to my all-time favorite model and bestest friend, Sara, for waking up at the crack of dawn on a Monday to get prettied up and come play with us. 

Much love!

Love at the Lake

This gorgeous couple right here is Kyle and Murphey. And I just adored our time together! The rain held off just long enough for this beautiful blonde and her person to make some magic happen at White Rock Lake.  They're so photogenic that it is a little unfair to the rest of the population but ohhhh I selfishly love it. ESPECIALLY when it involves one of the best sunsets ever (which I geek out on on normal days when I don't have a smokin hot couple to photograph with it). They even brought their pup along to get the whole family involved. Cute right? 

So without further ado, I present to you, the future Mr. & Mrs. Nobles in all their sunsetty glory. Enjoy!

Springtime at the Arboretum

Meet Chris and Sarah. They met while out in Dallas, each celebrating a friend's birthday. It is that old "spotted each other across a crowded room" story that everyone knows but no one believes to be true anymore. Except it is! And it looks dangggg good on them. Their quiet love speaks volumes when you watch them together (screams...actually). There were SO many laughs, a few tears and the most heartfelt words shared between these two during their engagement session (not to mention, some sips of contraband champagne because they're gansta like that). I can't wait to shoot their wedding in November - it is going to be chic and sentimental no doubt! So cheers to Chris and Sarah and a lifetime full of hugs just like this one!

An Urban Dallas Engagement

There are two major reasons I was looking forward to this shoot like crazy.

1) Brittani is literally my oldest friend. We met at school when we were four. Which means, comes next year, we will have known each other for 25 years. Because I am now old enough to have had a friend for 25 years. Because I'm about to be 28 and that means I'm closing in on 30. Wait...sorry, I got distracted. Brittani. Oldest friend. Photos. I'm back on track now.

2) When we were talking about their shoot, Britt's main criteria was having an untraditional Dallas shoot. Which is basically music to this photographer's ears! I roped in a photog friend/genius of mine and mapped out a few locations that had the untraditional, urban, industrial type vibe in and near downtown.

So cut to the day of - everything that could go wrong did. A few makeup and eyelash mishaps before and during the shoot. The temperature dropping 20 degrees and Brittani being so cold she was shivering so hard that I could see it from feet away. One of our planned locations being FILLED with cars. Another location being locked down and the security guard threatening to call the cops on us for standing the PUBLIC sidewalk in front of it as we decided on another plan. (Yeah...that happened) 

LUCKILY, my crazy talented friend, Rachel (that friend/genius I mentioned), answered my SOS call on the first ring and helped me find another spot to end our session and the photos turned out beautifully! We had the odds (and the weather) stacked against us but nothing can conquer love...and a determined photographer.

Check back in July to see some photos of their wedding at the Discovery Gardens! If I know this girl (and I do...for almost 25 years now...EEK), it is going to be crazy stylish and so filled with love.

My Friends Got Married, Y'all!

Back in December, I posted a blog about the engagement session I shot for my sweet friends Hannah and Mario (You should read it. Shameless plug. That engagement session was killer!). In February, they made the dang thing official by getting married in Dallas at the Filter Building on White Rock Lake. SO much of this day was the best kind of sentimental and sap since I was watching one of my closest friends marry the man she loves BUT, since you weren't there to appreciate the tiny aspects that made the day extra special, I'll highlight three that I know mean a ton to Hannah:

  1. Hannah used her childhood bedroom to get ready (awww)
  2. Hannah's wedding band came from her mother's original wedding band
  3. Hannah's mom and her mom's cousins surprised the couple with a choreographed dance to "Dear Future Husband" and "Single Ladies" (the reactions will always be my faves)

Not only was the day totally beautiful and classy (like Hannah...duh) but seeing Mario's eyes fill with tears as she walked down the aisle...ugh. That is what sets my soul on fire, both as a wedding photographer and as a friend. The only thing better than getting to celebrate love for a living is when I get to celebrate it with my friends. Plus, ya know, I got to dance a lot, which is always a win in my book.

Congratulations Rodriguezes. You freakin did it! And I am so grateful you let me capture it for you. You da best!

From Waco with Love

  1. Emily and Cole are from Canada.
  2. They've been together 12 years and married for 3.5.
  3. They're CRAZY in love.
  4. They came to Texas to see Austin (they loved allll the food and quirky shops), San Antonio (let's be real, after you've remembered the Alamo and gone down the Riverwalk, there's not much else going on) and Waco (shout out to her fellow Fixer Upper fanatics).

Now that you're caught up on the minutia...

Emily reached out to me about driving down to Waco to take some photos of them while they were in town and I pretty much jumped at the opportunity. Something in her email caused me to believe this was going to be a killer shoot with a killer couple that I didn't want to miss out on...plus I've only ever driven through Waco on my way south, I've never actually stopped there. So I did some Googling, bothered some industry folks and created a plan for a mini-tour around the city - for me AND the Canadians. The weather forecast called for 80% chance of rain and yet we found ourselves with a cloudless, blue sky and a decently strong, chilly wind. When Emily and Cole showed up, my first question was, "Just how adventurous are you feeling?" followed by "I know you don't know me yet but do you trust me?" Luckily for me - walking through mud and climbing over rocks didn't scare them. The result? One of the most romantic sessions to date!

We started at Lake Waco, stopped on the Suspension Bridge, visited the refurbished Gulf Gas Station and walked around the Armstrong Browning Library before ending the afternoon at the Magnolia Market. There was laughing and dancing and a heck ton of PDA all with crazy cool backdrops I've never used before, which made my job the easiest thing ever! I can't bear to only post a few so I'm posting a lot...like a lot y'all. So without further ado, I present to you this rad couple and their rad love.

A Blustery Engagement

Ugh, Texas weather, y'all. If you're from Texas, that statement needs no further explanation because your head is immediately filled with multiple examples of ughness. 

Molly and Landon's engagement session was originally postponed due to cold temps and rain. When their rescheduled session came along, Texas blessed us with 28mph winds. But these two didn't bat an eye at my crazy self for carrying on, or if they did, they politely did so before and after our time together. Their love was undeniable! Molly was moved to tears within the first five minutes and every time I told them to kiss, I could swear they were both thinking, "FINALLYYY." I definitely left the session feeling the dreamy feels the were giving off. If they were an emoji, they would be the face with heart eyes. True story!

Check back later this year to see some photos from their August wedding! It'll be worth the wait, my lovelies! Until then, just soak in the cuteness below.

What Happens In Vegas...

This is definitely not the Vegas post you are expecting.

Long story short - my gorgeous best friend and go-to model gave me the opportunity for a last minute trip to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve - a very quick, exhausting 30 hour stay. My only demands were 1) meet a celebrity (Heyyyyy Rami), 2) to find me a good donut, as I do in pretty much every city I visit and 3) to go to the desert for a mini photo shoot.  Having a full-time 8-5 job doesn't afford much time for taking photos just for creativity's sake, so I knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see the desert and and shoot for fun. Especially because Sara and I are adventuring and photo soulmates - we are both game for whatever random thing the other thinks up 95% of the time and feed off of each other seamlessly when we work.

Cut to January 1, we found some HUGE (though not insanely delicious) donuts and we called a Lyft to get us to Red Rock Canyon, the place our hotel concierge suggested for us to go. Serendipitously, our Lyft driver was mega chatty and we explained to him what we were doing. He told us about a spot in the opposite direction that was much, much, much more like what we had imagined (think Mad Max - the Charlize version). We took his advice and turned around - heading out to the sand dunes he used to work at and ohhhhh I'm so grateful that we did.

We worked in broad sunlight (another first for me) - playing with light and shadows in a way I don't get to normally when the clock is ticking. We prayed in some wind, did some basic girl yoga and had literally the best time. I gave Say a quick Canon 101 because she demanded to take my photo too and she caught some that I'm so crazy obsessed with - just another reason to love that girl! Beyond all of that - our angel of a Lyft driver STAYED FOR AN HOUR TO WAIT FOR US to come out of the dunes so he could drive us back AND arranged with the dunebuggy company to let us use their vehicles for some true Mad Max inspired photos. They even told us we could ride for free if/when we come back - which means we are for sure going back.

I'm honestly really proud of these photos and enjoyed every spirit-reviving minute of being tiny in such a huge, beautiful place. So thank you, Say, for being my model, seeing my visions and always saying yes to my ideas and making them even better. I love you to the moon!

The Next Big Thing

To piggy back off of the last blog (if you haven't read it yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!), I was recently given the opportunity to start working with musicians in addition to the fashion world. Fun fact, fashion and music are both fields of study I contemplated back when I was a lost college student. Instead, I settled on a General Studies degree, because nothing screams "MY LIFE HAS DIRECTION" quite like a General Studies degree. So getting to incorporate my other passions into my photography is pretty much the best thing ever.

Anyways - music. This kid is an uncomfortably talented singer/songwriter out of Fort Worth. We chatted about his project, vibe and aesthetic inspirations - all of which I was 100% on board to help bring to life. And luckily, he's had some experience in front of a camera and made my day easier than I could've hoped for considering that he was the first solo guy I've worked with so far (I didn't fill him in on that tidbit until after delivering some killer photos. Momma didn't raise no fool). He didn't even complain when I forced him to be "that guy" and really play and sing throughout Dallas. What a trooper! So if you like country music, or even if you're a fuddy duddy who doesn't enjoy a little twang every now and again, you should definitely go check out Austin Blair Campbell's first single so that you can claim to have thought he was cool before he went mainstream. You're welcome!

https://soundcloud.com/austinblaircampbell/iclyg

New Year Vibes

We are 25 days into the new year and 2017 is kill. in. it. There are so many exciting projects and changes coming up this year, sometimes I feel like my heart is going to explode from excitement. Is that a medical possibility? If anyone has graduated medical school (I don't need you to be licensed or anything...that's a little demanding for this specific inquiry), I'm curious to know.

Anywhoozles. Back to why you're here - some photos. I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog before but at the tail end of 2016 I was brought on as the photographer for a crazy fun, girl boss driven online clothing boutique called Harper & Tucker. It is headed up by two fabulous ladies named Dakota and Natalie. They source their pieces from other fabulous lady designers. And hire cool chick hair stylists, makeup artists, models, etc. It's just a giant cluster of creative women, fiercely supporting one another in the pursuit of our dreams and I LOVEEEE ITTTT.

As part of this project, we do monthly product shots for the website and quarterly editorial sessions which, to be honest, is now my jam. I was way intimidated by it originally since it is something I hadn't done before and I love fashion too much to not do it justice. But, sometimes, crafting the life you dream of instead of settling for what you're handed means taking leaps of faith past your comfort zone. And I'm so glad I did!

These photos are from our 2nd editorial shoot that we did about a week ago. If you want to see (and shop!) the looks - head on over to the website and #SHOPSMALL. 

www.harperandtucker.com

Thick As Thieves

I love working with families. I really, truly do! When a kid is involved, interacting in a natural way is the easiest thing in the world. Watching moms and dads tickle, cuddle and love on their babies of all sizes never gets old, even as those babies do (get old, that is). Years fly by much too quickly and lives and families change along with them. I love knowing the days of innocent childhood are documented for my families exactly as they are right now - goofy smiles and all!

2016 in Review

This. Was. Not. Easy. Let me tell you how not easy this was.

My original plan for this post was to pick my ONE favorite from each month. That proved impossible, so I decided it was okay to pick two. Well...that snowballed. I have no clue where I ended. I decided, instead, that I was going to scroll through my photos and pick whichever ones made me FEEL something. 

Joy. Love. Awe. LIFE. It is all here. 

These photos range from babies to weddings to travel and everything in between. They were taken in Texas and New Orleans and Washington and New York. They represent my year - the beautiful things I got to see. This has far and away been the best year of my life so far. Thank you for being a part of it!

Introducing Jacob William!

I am not a newborn photographer. Those people have the most patience (and props) of anyone ever. BUT, a lifestyle shoot? That is my jam. Especially when it involves two old friends and their sweet eight day old baby boy. I love, love, love getting to capture what life looks like in the first days of a new family's life - it is the most innocent, love filled image to see.

So world - meet Jacob William! Jake was LITERALLY the most chill newborn session I've ever done. One feeding, one diaper change. Other than that, he just hung out, looked at the lights around him and followed his daddy's voice wherever it went. Oh, and catching a newborn yawn in front of a Christmas tree? That's my version of a Christmas miracle. 

So enjoy this sweet boy. I know I did!