How'd I get here?

Squirrels.

What?!

The moment I knew I wanted to be a photographer was sometime around age 8 - so....1986-ish.  I was given my own 110 film camera as a gift and I was in love.  I would take photos of anything and everything, but mostly? Mostly it was squirrels.

Hey, I was an only child, ok?

My parents stopped developing my film after awhile because it wasn’t actually of anything.

The love continued though.  At 14, my dad picked up a used SLR camera - a Pentax K1000 for me.  I took a lot of shitty pictures but I learned a lot about the technical aspects.  In high school I finally took a photography class and learned more about the exposure triangle and film developing, which I loved.

In the army I was ALWAYS the person taking photos.  I have an unbelievable amount of photos from my army days and then the same for college.  BLACKMAIL FOR DAYS, PEOPLE.  Thank God there was no smart phones or Facebook back then.  You probably feel the same way.  You know what you were up to in the late 90's...

After graduating from Fresno State, we hauled ass out of California to Wisconsin. I started working and grad school, so photography just kind of fell off my radar. Things settled down, I graduated, and life was moving on.  At that point I was missing photography again and bought myself a Canon G10 - a point and shoot with fabulous manual capabilities.  I was producing some beautiful stuff from that camera, but had some serious envy of all the people around me picking up DSLRs.

While I was pregnant, a group of my friends all pitched in and got me a Canon Rebel XS, making me promise to take many many beautiful photos of my growing baby.   When Sophie was about 2, friends of ours had a son that was graduating from high school.  They'd had a friend take a few photos, but she wasn’t super happy with them, so she asked me if I wanted to do it.  

Nervously, I said yes.

And it was awesome. 

Suddenly I saw potential in doing it for a living. I wasn't doing anything else anyway (actually I was raising Sophie - any stay at home mom will tell you that's a full time job) and I couldn't handle not contributing to anything financially in our home. I was never going to find a family friendly job with my degrees. 

With stars in my eyes (and blinders) all I could think about was how without photos, I never would have seen my great grandma in her 20's, or my dad as a baby. I wouldn't have seen my mom and her BFF Jill and all of their high school shenanigans. It's my family history. With my camera in hand, I could record history other people.  I could freeze time and even emotions. I could document and create and inspire connection.  I could do something I love and check in and out whenever I want!

Stupidly (and predictably) I did it how I do everything.

Dive in first, figure out how to swim later. Wheee!

"I'm sure I can run a business." I thought. "I see people much less intelligent than myself do it all the time."

Which, in hindsight, is a totally douche-y thing to say.  

But DUDE.  Running a business is HARD.  

Business plan? What business plan? How do these effing taxes work, anyway? What can I write off? Why can't I get anything done when I'm at home? In my quest for freedom and more time with my family, I was using every minute thinking about what I could and should be doing, and then getting annoyed when I couldn't get it done. So nothing would happen.  I was stagnant.  My business was stagnant. 

No quality time with the family, no quality time for the business. 

I wasn't making any money because even though I *thought* I was charging a lot, after all the expenses and time spent on editing and behind-the-scenes stuff, it was kind of like I was paying people to take their photos instead of them paying me.  

Well.  That just doesn't work.  

It was depressing and I was getting burned out. 

And what were people even doing with these photos?  Tossing them in a drawer? 

I quit. 

Actually to be honest -  I've quit like 4 times now. 

Once I even tried to sell my camera.  
WHAT?!

I've been in love with photography my entire life.  Is it not worth fighting for? It is.  So here I am.  

I don't have it figured out.  I'm still TERRIFIED to market myself or put myself out there. I re-vamped my business model and pricing in a major way. I've made some changes that I actually feel pretty great about. 

What I do know for certain  is that I want people to have the kind of photos that take them to a moment, a memory...a photo that gives them the feels every time they see it. I know I want them to have tangible products to last generations.  I want people to be over-the-moon excited about the quality of the art they've invested in and the experience they had working with me. I want to spoil people with fun and custom service.

Where are you, my people?  I know you're out there. Get in touch with me!

So that's my (long) story that probably could have stood to be a little shorter.  I like details. 

How did you get where you are now? Are you content there? Are you looking for more? I know you probably don't think I'm talking to you, but if you're reading this I AM talking to you.  Drop me a line in the comments - tell me your story.  If you'd rather it wasn't public, drop me a line through my contact form right here.  Let's talk.

Jessie MorrisComment