I counted it up just now. 40 photography clients in 2019! (and growing as I’m still booking sessions for the Holiday season) That’s 40 brides, families, mamas, and graduating seniors that have trusted me behind the camera. It is so humbling to get to do what I do now. For the first half of this year, I was still teaching full time. I worked my butt off to get here, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity now to do photography full-time.
Full-time Photographer in Colorado
In June this year, I left my teaching job. Now, I can say, I’m a former English and Journalism middle school and high school teacher. For almost a decade, I taught students how to write their own stories and also analyze other writer’s. I would celebrate with my students when they went off to college and got their journalism degrees or published their own work. I have several students that are now professional photographers or writers of their own accord.
I loved [almost] every moment of being an educator. I spent my teaching career working towards that next award for my yearbook and newspaper programs, or increasing my students’ growth in Language Arts. One day, something clicked. My students were getting to achieve their dreams, and they wanted me to do the same. It was time to rewrite my chapter.
I left my local teaching job to become a full-time photographer and wedding professional. I’m determined to make a difference in every one of my client’s lives by providing them an amazing experience and giving them a product that will be their family heirlooms. My clients’ images will live on. Now, that’s my goal.
Similarities Between Teaching and Photography
Last night, I had the most amazing dinner in Denver with Julie Hill, owner of Elysium Productions, and Emily and Samantha of Bella Design and Planning. We got to talking about how we got into this wedding industry, and realized 3 out of 4 of us have Master’s degrees in Education. I think that says something amazing about teachers! Sure, we left the classroom, but that doesn’t mean that we left the attributes and training we gained, and love for students/people, and life-long learning when we left. We just brought all of that into our current professions.
Because I was a teacher, I can manage large groups at weddings, make a teenage boy laugh, connect with my clients and build relationships. My wedding photography timelines are flawlessly planned out (just like my old lesson plans), and I can keep everyone on schedule no matter how crazy a wedding day gets. I also have a thirst for learning, and I’m always signing up for a workshop and following prominent blogs and educators in the photography industry.
Though I sometimes miss being in the classroom, I love living out my passion everyday and going after my dreams of being a wedding and portrait photographer; telling my clients’ story in whatever season of life they are currently in.
Booking Photography Sessions for 2020
I’m already booking weddings and photography sessions for 2020, and I’m so excited to work with more amazing people out of my home of Breckenridge, Colorado and other mountain towns!
Rachael and Ryan met in high school ceramics class. Years later, they’d reconnect, start dating, and build their life together in the Rocky Mountains. Since their story began with clay, we had to incorporate that into their engagement session. They brought their favorite hand made mugs with hot cocoa and maybe a little something extra to keep them even warmer during the session. I mean, they’re from Minnesota so they know how to stay warm!
Rachael is an incredible ceramic artist. She creates mugs, bowls, and a collection of beautiful pottery. She even makes Christmas ornaments! I have three of her’s that hang on my tree! To check out and purchase some of her custom pieces, go to her facebook page or on Instagram at @rachaelanneceramics.
During their session, we talked about their love story, how it started as friends and as their love grew, it brought them together in the mountains. So that’s why we planned a session with a beautiful, snowy mountain backdrop on the same road they take to work each day. That way, not only would their pictures hanging in their home remind them of their commitment to each other, but the drive to work would too.
Annie and Connor’s engagement session was one I’ll never forget. These two were just so easy going right from the start. I believe it translates through their engagement pictures just how in love and relaxed they were.
Planning is a big part of the prep leading up to any of my sessions. Annie, Connor, and I had been emailing about locations to shoot at around Breckenridge. Annie was interested in engagement shoot with mountains, lakes or rivers, while Connor said a good overlook or rock outcropping would be good. All the planning paid off!! We had a perfectly overcast day to go play atop Loveland Pass. Then we drove back towards Breckenridge, where they were staying, and stopped along Lake Dillon to get the overlook and rock outcropping location that Connor specifically asked for!
Here’s the sweetest and BEST review from Connor and Annie, they voluntarily wrote on Google, that I could ever ask for:
“We were both blown away by the time and effort Andrea put in for our engagement shoot. She scouted out areas ahead of time based on my fiancee and I’s requests in order to find us locations we would love. She was willing to be adventurous and had knowledge of the local area and weather patterns. She immediately made us feel comfortable in front of the camera and genuinely seemed to care about us as people. She got to know us in the short amount of time we were with her and this added to the overall experience of the shoot. Couldn’t say better things about her. Wonderful! Her eye and talent for photography is evident from the start and the unedited sneak peek she gave us was already amazing. Not only do we have great photos, but also a new friend! If you’re looking for a photographer of any sort in the Breckenridge area, she’s definitely the one to go with!”-Annie & Connor
This winter was exceptionally long but beautifully snowy. This venue in the summer is a pristine golf course. In the winter, it’s home of sleigh ride dinners and the club house can be turned into a perfect venue for any size wedding. One of the things I really enjoyed about this wedding was how much of a family affair it was. Before Sara walked down the aisle and the rest of the guests arrived, lots of the family, and even the kids, were out shoveling snow on the club house deck. Kevin’s sister even officiated the wedding. Sara and Kevin chose one of the most perfect days to say their I dos and cap it all off with a snowy sleigh ride.
The last few years so much has taken a back seat to make room for my full time job of teaching, being a wife, and now having a baby, that I have neglected some of passions. Like we all do, I still made time for some fun. Like fishing with my husband, stand up paddle board yoga, and keeping up with social media, I hadn’t made time for my photography business until this last year. Maternity leave has actually left me inspired, feeling more creative than ever, and driven to make this side hustle my full time hustle. While it can’t happen right away because, let’s face it, living in the mountains is expensive, I now have some big time goals for this photography business of mine.
I just saw on Instagram that the first couple that hired me to shoot their wedding had their nine year anniversary. Nine years. Nine years since I shot my first wedding (which I was paid $100 to shoot) and when this passion for shooting weddings first took hold. I was in college and a little bit of extra money was nice. I was majoring in broadcast journalism which is when I got my first camera, and thought I could definitely do this for a living. That’s when I realized running a business and being in college is not as easy as it sounds. Then, I decided to pursue my masters degree in teaching, and the thought of pursuing photography full time was put on the back burner.
Next week, I return to my full time job, as a cheer coach and a teacher. Just this morning, I spent it making up a cheer dance that hopefully 40 middle school girls will be able to pick up in three days time. (And look a whole lot better than me doing it!) Then comes teacher work week and welcoming 100 8th graders through my classroom doors. I do love teaching, don’t get me wrong, but I always have doing photography full time in the back of my head. I’ll continue doing sessions and weddings during the school year and seeing how hard I can hustle to make it happen.
Since moving to Colorado, I’ve shot weddings on my own and as a second photographer to other professionals. Of course, I love booking wedding as the lead photographer, but there’s something fun about being a second photographer. Makes the day of a little less stressful, and you have the opportunity to be a tad more creative and take a wider perspective as a second photographer at a wedding. I’ve been lucky to work with photographers that let me also step in a do a little directing during the day as well. I had the great pleasure of shooting Emma and Brian’s wedding for Leisa Gibson Photography in Silverthorne, Colorado.
They were such a precious couple and went everywhere with their friends along for all the portraits. That was very telling of who they are as a couple and how much their friends adored them as a couple. They weren’t afraid of snuggling up and giving a quick kiss with their friends right behind, taunting them. They had their beautiful, quant ceremony on the shore of the Blue River and their reception at the Silverthorne Pavilion. This was my perspective of the day and I love how the images I took turned out!