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Becoming a Full-Time Wedding Photographer

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Image: Ellie McKinney Photography

Looking back a year ago, I couldn't have envisioned myself writing this blog. I believed that I would be in a corporate job filming videos or working my way up in a photo studio somewhere. Never in my dreams did I truly believe I would be a full-time self-employed wedding photographer.

Last December, I was enduring weekly sob sessions in my car, crying out to God, wondering what His plans for me were, and why nothing was happening. I was graduating from college with a bachelor's degree in video and despite my 4.0 GPA and years of internships under my belt, I was jobless. I had applied to 50+ jobs and was turned down at every single job interview. Every. Single. One.

I knew the job search would be tough, but I went through a season where I felt more dejected than I had been in my entire life. Getting turned down from a job I felt underqualified for made sense to me, but getting rejected from a job I was passionate about hurt. That was my daily life...times 50.

Entering January, I moved back home with my parents, continued looking for jobs, and tried to get my photography business off the ground. I had shot about 6 weddings at that point and was booked for 1 more that following year of 2021. Maybe that surprises some of you who have followed me, to think that I was struggling with business, but truly it is so easy to fake things on the internet and make people think you are thriving, when in actuality you are drowning.

Knowing that I had some financial security with my parents and was still out of a full-time job, I found a part-time job working at a boutique. At the time I applied, I saw myself working there for a while, or at least until I found a full-time job. While working at the boutique part time, I spent the other half of my time working on trying to get my photography business up and running. I networked with photographers around me and brainstormed on ways to get my business out there.

I had recalled one brief connection I had made the summer before with a local photographer, Ellie McKinney. Now, anyone who knows Ellie, knows that she is a force to be reckoned with in the photo world. She is an incredibly talented and giving soul who pushes herself, and others, to be the best business person they can. I reached out to her to see if I could assist on one of her weddings or help with anything really. Just to gain knowledge from her was invaluable in my eyes. Surprisingly, she and her friend, Heidi (another incredible photographer) were starting a styled shoot business and needed help with social media & communications. In return, they would do a few mentoring sessions with me! Without Ellie and Heidi pouring their business knowledge into me, I truly believe that I would not be where I am today.

As I continued working at the boutique, I realized I was having to take more and more days off. I was aware that I would have some photoshoots on weekends, but it was getting to a point where I felt ridiculous for asking so many days off of a part-time job. In fact, I was getting so much business that a month into my part time job, I quit and went full time into wedding photography. It blows my mind that I went from 1 booked wedding to multiple gigs a month.

After I quit my job, I made a goal for myself on how many weddings I wanted to shoot in 2021. My goal at the beginning of the year was 10, now, I have shot 15 of my own weddings and assisted on 19 weddings.

I don't write this to boast in my ability as a business woman, rather I write this as a testimony of God's grace, sovereignty, and provision in my life. The journey of going full-time was not without the fear of failure or many tears. I was terrified that I wouldn't have enough clients, or that I would get into this and I wouldn't be as good as people expected me to be. I saw the work of other photographers and sometimes questioned why one client would hire me over them. I still wrestle with this fear even though I have weddings already booked for next year. Despite my fears, I know that God was and is in control. He is the one who deeply humbled me as I wrestled to find a job. He is the one who provided every single client and connection that I encountered this year. He is the one who has brought me from 1 wedding this year to 34. I am brought to my knees in gratitude and worship as I look back on the journey He has walked me through.

As we approach 2022, my prayer for you, no matter where you are in your journey, is that even when it looks and feels like God has forgotten his plan for you, you would remember my story, and trust that God is good and despite your feelings, the truth remains that He will never leave nor forsake you.

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