How Passion and a Little Hustle Made My Dream Come True

Recently, I have been asked numerous times about what got me started into photography and what made me want to pursue the business side of things. My parents will be the first to tell you that packed away on external hard-drives and printed photo albums are countless videos and pictures that I took. This collection consisted of the selfies, documentation of life events and oh-so-many flower pictures. By the time I was in middle school, I was subscribed to the young horse magazine, Young Rider,where you could sign up to have a pen pal. I just happened to be matched with another savvy horse-obsessed girl and photographer, Charlotte, who was my muse in the early days. Charlotte was a member of the online photography community, Flickr,and I remember seeing one of her pictures of a starfish being silhouetted by the sunset and from that moment I was hooked. My own trip to Charleston, South Carolina, in sixth grade was where I can definitely put a pin in the start of this photography adventure. 

 

Fast forward to high school and I had my own Nikon Coolpix. And man, did I think I was cool. I begged for a DSLR and was even teased, terribly I might add, one Christmas when I unwrapped a Nikon D3200 box from my aunt that was actually filled with rocks and random gifts. I was heartbroken. And, nobody could understand my level of devastation that Christmas. Needless to say, I worked hard and finally made the purchase. That Nikon D3300, the newer version, was my trademark and entrance into the portrait world. The kind of purchase I cried when I opened the box. Happy tears.

 

You Can Get Paid? 

My first ever paying client, Kate, entrusted me to do her senior portraits. God bless her soul. I had no idea there was so much to consider like shooting in manual, raw format, lighting, posing, etc. There is so so much to photography that people just don’t realize. There is a reason our prices are what they are – but more on that later. The crazy part – Kate wanted to pay me. The fact you could make money doing this had genuinely never crossed my mind. Who knew. I believe I charged her the bare minimum. I was so nervous to even give her my price for the session. Now she is a repeat customer and the improvements that come with each session I do with her are priceless. My ideal clientele and, ultimately, a new friend.

GUYSSSS!!!! Growth is a REAL CONCEPT. I debated on showing this image…. but, if I didn’t show it - it would defeat the purpose of this blog post || Circa Sept. 2014.

GUYSSSS!!!! Growth is a REAL CONCEPT. I debated on showing this image…. but, if I didn’t show it - it would defeat the purpose of this blog post || Circa Sept. 2014.

From there, I was “Liz Kyle Photography” and when that was not enticing me anymore and my talents were now slightly more impressive, I rebranded to “L. Marie Photography.” My soul intention was to photograph horses and seniors in high school, but then the craziest thing happens: people believe in you + your talent. I got asked to do more and more sessions and realized how much I loved the challenge. The first time I got asked to do a wedding? Shocked. But there I was, reading up and obsessing over how to be the best wedding photographer I could be. I successfully added that to my portfolio, too.

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Never Stop Learning: A Modern Cliché That Is Correct

Was it easy? No. Am I still improving? Heck, yes. Every shoot I come away with something new to add to my toolbox. Plus, I haven’t just been working as a photographer. I’ve been a full time student, I have worked countless jobs to sustain my business and basic necessities for myself. I have learned to balanced family, friends and horseback riding with work and school – even now I still struggle to find that balance. I talk about my business constantly. I try to be presentable when going out to meet new people. I am a firm believer in how you present yourself is the best way to attract your ideal clientele. Of course, that doesn’t always work out how I want it to. But, that’s just life for you. I network like crazy and honestly have learned recently that I may need to learn to turn off that aspect and take time for myself. When I’m not networking, I’m a hermit in my room: messy bun, special glasses to filter out the blue light and working. 

black background portraits for our equine friends took a lot of practicing with lighting and photoshop! countless trials and errors.

black background portraits for our equine friends took a lot of practicing with lighting and photoshop! countless trials and errors.



So… Now I Must Be a Millionaire Photographer, Right?

My secret? Dream and dream big. Set goals that are tangible and within reason. Don’t reach for the end goal, have it in mind, but work up to that goal with the baby steps needed. Believe in yourself and your talent. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and are the hype team you did not know you needed. It is a huge industry with thousands of photographers that live in one community alone. Believe me when I say it is so easy to get down about your work after seeing how well other photographers are doing and booking “so many shoots.” Trust me, it just means you haven’t found your ideal clientele because the good news – there are more people than photographers and everyone needs a photographer to document certain life events. I now have four weddings this fall with four already booked for 2020. Two of those weddings are in Pennsylvania. When I started this photography adventure? I had zero weddings and maybe four “official shoots” a year. Each year, I have grown this small precious child of mine. I just added another full-frame camera to the collection that I can have a backup camera for my weddings to provide the best service that I can. This is just the beginning and I cannot wait to grow to that six-figure business I know I can attain. 

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What side job dream do you have? Is it something tangible that you could maybe pursue? Message me about it and maybe I can share some insight on how to get your idea into a full-fledged business! 

            

5 Tips for Making the Most Out of your Couples’ Shoot

So, you’ve decided to get your picture done with the love of your life. You feel excitement, and maybe, a little bit of anxiety. There may be a good chance you’ve never had your picture taken professionally and don’t know what to expect. How do you even decide on outfits? How to pose? What to bring?

 

Don’t worry. I’m going to share my top five tips. Couple sessions are supposed to be fun, relaxing and intimate. These images are meant to bring you together with your loved one and cherish the moments with them.

 

1.  Find a photographer you like

How cliché that sounds – but it is SO TRUE! If you don’t like the person you’re about to spend two hours with running around various spots at your location, then your experience is going to be that much worse. It is my job to direct the show and offer unique prompts to bring out the emotions that are so raw and real that the story is being told through the images. Do you have a dream photographer that you follow and adore? The belief that you put in that photographer is worth the time, money, and finally, quality of images you receive after.

Carly + Seth have been back to work with me a few times… Safe to say they like my crazy prompts, and ultimately, my style. ◡̈

Carly + Seth have been back to work with me a few times… Safe to say they like my crazy prompts, and ultimately, my style. ◡̈

 

2.  Location, location, location

Where do you and the love of your life like to go to be together? Do you love visiting the beach and the local ice cream store? Hiking into the wilderness and fields? Walking downtown in old historic areas? TELL YOUR PHOTOG. Seriously, picking a location that you adore only adds to the level of intimacy and meaning of the photos. Any photographer should be able to work with and enhance your vision with their experience and style.

Ash + Jen wanted to set up this coffee-inspired camping trip that was a short walk to the pasture that housed their horse, Kinzer!

Ash + Jen wanted to set up this coffee-inspired camping trip that was a short walk to the pasture that housed their horse, Kinzer!

 

3.  Outfits

You’re about to invest time and money into this photo experience – why not go above and beyond? Had an eye on an adorable sexy dress for the beach? I’m here to tell you: do it. Have a friend that’s talented with hair + makeup? Do it. Come to your session ready to slay and that coordination with your significant other will only add to the level of fun. Interested in an in-home session in your pajamas? Find those cute pajamas then! Your options are endless.

Aubree + Brandon chose these outfits after I discussed with Aubree the potential of her + her boo getting into the surf. Something cute + comfortable that could handle getting dirty.

Aubree + Brandon chose these outfits after I discussed with Aubree the potential of her + her boo getting into the surf. Something cute + comfortable that could handle getting dirty.

 

4.  Bring some fun

I’m the first person to tell you that bringing props to a session is ok. More than okay, actually! I find that it makes couples relaxed and helps me, the photographer, to work with different prompts to get the reactions I need from my couples. I had a client bring a sunrise picnic setup with mimosas, and now, THAT was fun. 

Donna + James came in hot with their sunrise mimosas + strawberries

Donna + James came in hot with their sunrise mimosas + strawberries

5.  Furry 4-legged pals are invited

I don’t think this is the first thing that people think of for their sessions, but pets are 100% welcome and a fun extra to add that zest to the session! Or, finding an alpaca farm because you just love them so much that you want to run through a field being chased by them. Personally, I would love a shoot with baby cows. 

Mookie was the star of the show for KD + Josh’s engagement session

Mookie was the star of the show for KD + Josh’s engagement session

 I hope this helped get the creative juices flowing for you. And, a weight lifted off your shoulders. It is truly supposed to be a session that represents the two of you in the most fun and loving way. Have you had booked your session with your loved one yet? No? Well, what are you waiting for!? Also, who doesn’t love sharing awesome pictures with friends?