Well, I never thought I'd be writing this little story, but here it is.
Like a lot of my friends in the photography industry, my photography career began with my interest in photography starting at a young age. One of my first cameras was a Kodak 110 camera and I took pictures of literally everything! Leaves, bugs, our cats and one of my favorite things when I was a kid, my Match Box cars. I still have the photo albums full of these photos. I look back on them now and think, "why in the world did I take pictures of these silly objects?" Ha, ha. Little did I know then, that little spark would later on ignite and take photography to a totally different level.
While I was in high school, my dad did a lot of the candid photos for our yearbook and processed the film in the darkroom at school. I got to help with that process some and it was fascinating. When I graduated from high school (way back in 1985), I received my first 35mm camera. It was a Fujica and I loved it! At the time, I worked at a local department store and we had a film processing department. I sent off film to be processed all the time. Eventually, I started photographing portrait subjects and a few weddings. Over the years, my hobby continued and I was happy being a hobbyist photographer and shooting photos of our cats and dogs. Ha, ha.
Fast forward to after my wife (Karen) and I got married (1995) my hobby started getting a little more less of a hobby and I started getting requests for family, child and senior portraits. I loved what I was doing, but was following the work of some other portrait photographers I admired and wondered why my images didn't look like theirs and I wanted them to. One of those photographers was a friend of Karen's family, Darrell Chitty. Darrell owned and operated a successful portrait business in Shreveport, Louisiana. After seeing wedding photos that Darrell had created for Karen's cousin, that's the moment I knew I wanted to find a way to make this my dream job. Karen and I were able to spend a weekend with Darrell, and his sweet wife Nona, while we were visiting Karen's aunt and uncle. I learned SO much that weekend from Darrell and from that weekend received an invitation to attend a workshop he hosted in Charlottesville, Virginia. Again, after that workshop, the light was burning stronger for me to start my own business. But, fear kept me from it.
Before Karen and I were married I was working for our local telephone company since 1988. After being employed by them for 18 years, my position was eliminated in one of many "work force reductions" that had been rolling out across the company. To say I was in shock was a major understatement. My job was our main income. I was like what am I going to do!? I prayed and know that God had closed this door at the telephone company making the opportunity for me to start my photography business full-time. But fear was still there and I was scared to death. A couple of days later, I received a call from a friend at our local bank saying they had learned of my situation and wanted to know if I would be interested in a position in their marketing department that had opened up. Being still very fearful and needing a way to provide for my family, I jumped on the opportunity to start down a new and different career path. I worked in the bank's marketing department for four years and thoroughly loved my job. I was able to do one of my other loves, graphic design. I designed several ads while I was there and even did photography as we needed headshots for occasional bank promotions.
During the summer of 2007, Karen and I attended one of my favorite photographer's workshops in Morton, Illinois. Jed and Vicki Taufer were conducting their "Selling the Experience" workshop and I was in awe that I was going. We both learned so much during that workshop and I distinctly remember Vicki swatting my hand after reviewing my price list and saying, "you need to raise your prices!" That was another point of fear that was to be faced as well. We left that workshop with so much to apply and it paved the way for me to start laying plans to open my business full time.
In January of 2010, I attended my first Imaging USA convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It was at this convention, I received lots of encouragement from fellow full-time photographers and received very valuable advice for how to start and maintain a profitable business. So, in March of that same year, and after much prayer and encouragement from my peers and especially my wife, I turned in my two-weeks notice at the bank and started my business full time.
Did the fear leave immediately? No. Is it still with me? Yes. Do I let it keep me from growing? No. One of the main things that has helped me conquer my fear is praying and knowing that God is in control and all of this is because of Him.
When it comes to me, I'm pretty patient, positive, honest and I love to be a source of positivity to anyone around me. I believe God is the Light of this world and spreading positivity is spreading His light to all that can see it. Fear shaded my light for far too long. God has helped me pull that shade off and let my light shine literally and figuratively.
From the time I started my business full-time, I love to make my clients feel great about themselves when they have their portraits created and a big part of that is LIGHT. I want them to feel important and I want to make others feel that way, too. Feeling good about yourself can have a big impact on your attitude. You are GOOD enough! Let YOUR LIGHT shine and don't be afraid to show it! And most importantly, be BRAVE.
Since the time I began my business full-time, I have received my Craftsman degree (Cr.Photog) and Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) designation from Professional Photographers of America - two of my proudest moments as a full-time portrait photographer.
If you have read this in it's entirety, thank you! I truly hope this can inspire you or someone you know to be brave, be confident and trust in God to help you through your fears.