My Journey to Wild Kind & Personal Branding Photography
From the Northwest of the US to the Northwest of the UK.
A lot of people ask how I got into photography, which for some reason, I never really expected to be asked. I've thought about this a lot over the years, especially when that good-for-nothing imposter syndrome comes knocking at my psyche. She's not welcome here so she doesn't show up so much anymore.
Although my path to photography wasn't as straight forward as it is for others, I truly believe I was meant to find a camera. To explain, I've done some memory searching to dig up the important points along my journey to photography. Buckle up for the Wild Kind Origin Story!
My interest began before I can remember, but when I was 10 years old I was given my first roll of film and a cheap camera. This was nothing fancy - I'm not even sure you could change any settings on it but I was immediately intrigued by the idea of freezing moments. I remember laying out different colors of blankets on the hallway floor to simulate the sandy beach and blue waves, and styling my beanie babies in different scenes...the photos didn't come back to win any awards, but the seed was planted.
I grew up in that time when as a toddler, my parents would have the camcorder rolling to capture candid family moments as they transpired. As I got older, I started to be the one behind the camera, filming.
In high school, I'm sad to admit that in my head, challenging academics and advanced placement courses were the only way to secure my acceptance into the one university I applied to, and therefore I regrettably waived my participation in photography and yearbook courses. I know they would have been wonderful creative outlets but when I think about it now, the industry and software have changed so much that that regret may be a wasted one.
Again in university, I missed my shot (no pun intended), not being able to afford the gear necessary to create the required projects of the photo-journalism class I was so excited about, so I dropped out. That didn't stop me from several "photoshoots" I did in my college years. My point-and-shoot camera got a lot of action! They were just for fun but looking back, I was learning my style, how to direct, and harnessing my enjoyment of this world, just as digital photography became accessible to everyone. And thank goodness for that because my travels were just about to take flight (pun intended) and I was determined to capture every moment on camera.
From a Christmas in Ghana, to a summer in Costa Rica, I knew this traveling lifestyle suited me so I began what was meant to be just a short ship stint, in 2009, meeting my partner a few contracts later the following year.
He and I sailed all over the world for years, exploring tons of cultures, cuisines, and climates (I've always loved a good alliteration). Early on in our travels I decided that I wanted to look back on my photos and memories with more pride than my flip phone and point-and-shoot allowed for, so made the leap and purchased my first DSLR in 2011 and with that, She Hearts Earth was born. A place where I showcased my travels around our globe as a crew member and backpacker.
Over 100 countries and 200 blog posts later, I ditched my crew status in 2016 and began to teach myself portrait and event photography. With that came families, boudoir sessions, yoga classes - any shoots I could point my lens at. As I continued to shoot a variety of photography genres, I began to realize and hone in on styles and session types that were most rewarding to me.
As an indecisive libra, restricting myself to certain types did not come easy but it did allow me to focus my energy, time, and continued education on sessions that made me feel good. There comes a time when you realize that if you do everything for everyone, you begin to resent the work, and as a lover of photography I knew I couldn’t let this happen.
That’s when I chose to focus my brand on documentary, lifestyle photography and elopements. It doesn’t necessary restrict the types of sessions - I can still happily shoot newborn sessions when it suits me, however it does allow me to target clients who appreciate that style - the unposed documentation of their life, rather than the "look at me and say cheese" sessions.
As I started to really discover what this style meant to me, I learned about a whole different genre of photography that I knew I had to get involved with - Personal Branding Photography. As soon as I discovered what this was, I realized I had been doing forms of this already for a blogger friend and I loved every moment of helping her capture her brand through relaxed documentation.
I took a course on this style, defined my ideal clients, came up with a mission statement, identified my brand values, and set to work extending my services to badass women in business. I get such a thrill from knowing through my skills and hard work, I can help other women succeed. Together, we create story-driven images to feed their marketing and help them grow their audience with authenticity.
Sometimes I get asked if I shoot other types of photography and the answer is, yes, I do/can/will shoot other types of photography occasionally, but my marketing efforts are aimed at dedicating my focus on creating gorgeous imagery to help grow female-led businesses.
So there you have it, a miniature memoir of yours truly. Thank you for reading!
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