A little over a year ago, Zach came home from work to find me crying alone, naked on the kitchen floor. Not a pretty sight. This was that “for worse” part of the wedding vows they don’t really tell you about. And boy, was it bad. I felt totally stuck. Immobilized by depression. I didn’t think I was depressed at the time, I just thought maybe I was crazy? Maybe just a little too emotional. I was out of control of my own life.
Now, thankfully I married somebody who knows exactly what I need and when. He can talk me down off of any ledge, and that’s exactly what he did. He asked me questions about how I was feeling, what I thought could make it better, and how I wanted to feel in 6 months. He devised a plan to get me out of the city and up to Maine for a long weekend, where I could feel the power of the earth all around me. The city is so chaotic sometimes, and I just need wide open spaces to think clearly (cue Dixie Chicks!).
Once we got to Maine, I was able to think about that last question Zach asked me. Where did I want to be in six months? Surely not still lying on the floor crying. I needed to have more control in my life. Zach told me, “I've been hearing you talk about your camera so much lately, but you never pick it up.” And he was right. I had taken a break from photography after graduating from art school with a fine art degree that I no longer wanted to use, but that had been almost three years ago, and maybe it was time to pick the camera back up again.
So that’s what I did. I picked up the camera and started asking anybody and everybody if I could practice on them. It took a few months to get back into the swing of things. Remembering how to pose. Remembering how to edit. Remembering how to talk about my art. And then- somebody asked me if I would take their engagement photos. I was floored. Of course I immediately said yes, and that was it. I shot their photos on April 21, 2018 and booked my first wedding of the year shortly thereafter. It’s not like I hadn’t ever shot before- I’d done portraits and elopements all throughout college- but this was the first time that I had decided to make a go at building my own photography business. Not just snapping photos here and there. Actually running a business.
One year later, I can’t believe the difference. What felt like a total pipe dream just 365 days ago has blossomed into a full blown business, and it couldn’t be a more perfect fit for me. My mom would be the first to tell you that I have always been a difficult person; somebody whose independence dominated all other aspects of life. I found it so difficult in school to follow directions from teachers because I just wanted to do things my own way. Parent-teacher conferences were filled with teachers telling my mom that I wasn’t doing things incorrectly per se, but I was setting a bad example for the class because I was doing things my way instead of theirs. Bosses would tell me how they thought things should be done, and I would immediately run head on into the “ask forgiveness later” lane. I can't count the number of programs I was kicked out of because I didn't want to listen. Back then, it was a curse. Now that I run my own business and I get to decide how things happen, it’s a damn blessing.
So: what’s changed?
I run an actual business now. A year ago, I was just taking photos of people- whenever and wherever. I’d say yes to anything that came my way and did a lot of work for free, as long as it meant using my camera.
Now I know the power of “no.” I’m building a long-term, sustainable business. I know my limits, when burnout is approaching, and how to avoid it. I know what kinds of shoots are for me, and what kind of shoots I’d rather send to another photographer. Learning to say no to things I don’t want to do leaves a lot of room to say yes to things I do want to do!
What’s stayed the same?
ME!! This business has always been centered around me doing what I love! Working with fun clients who are down for a dance party or impromptu champagne popping is my jam! I’ve honed in on that, and used it to elevate the whole photo experience. People know exactly what they’re getting into before booking a session with me- and it involves a lot of laughing with a hint of public embarrassment (usually on my part).
I’m also grateful that since the beginning, I have always run a legal business. Not everybody knows where to start with this, but I’m very thankful that before I took even a dime from photography clients, I opened a legal New York State business.
What’s on the horizon in the next year?
Lots of weddings! When I shot my first couple one year ago, I was nervous, anxious, clammy- all the things you don’t want to be on a photo shoot. I immediately ran away and vowed to shoot only single models.
But fate has a funny way of grabbing you and pulling you in, and I couldn’t stay away from the love fests. So in year two, I’m shooting a ton of weddings, which are coincidentally what I used to shoot several times a week while I was a senior in college. The fun part is, I’m doing a lot of destination weddings which combine my passion for travel with my passion for love and photography and my passion for a damn good party.
OH! And of course- my love for partying and celebrations could only lead to one thing… a giveaway. Head to THIS Instagram post to find out how to enter, and drop a comment below for an extra entry!
Photos of ~me! by Jordan Altergott!!