Thursday, April 5, 2018

the story of a life changed | part one

Writing my story has been on my big picture to-do list for years. I am so thankful for the scribbles and notes I saved from all those years ago, which helped to connect the events and the way that they unfolded. It's funny how time passes and your perspective changes. Maybe Justin Bobby was right, and truth and time really do tell all...

There was nothing special about the particular morning I decided to write this story. It was as ordinary as the morning when my story began.


That 7am car ride in 2011 plays in my mind like a scene from a movie, the soundtrack sounding something like this. A 21-year old on the verge of a brand new life, except she didn’t know it.

To set the scene, I was newly engaged, working as a legal assistant at one of the biggest law firms in Canada, eyebrows weren't even a thing yet, and Instagram was how people edited their photos. I did own a digital camera, but I used it to take gems like this:

In a moment of silence I felt the following words escape my throat without much thought behind them:

“Maybe I should become a wedding photographer...”

If life resembles the Milton Bradley board game, then this was one of those forks in the road that spiraled into a world of its own. And the fact that the fiancé who sat next to me offered nothing but support and assistance was my lucky roll of the dice.

By the time we had parked our 2010 Yaris in the lot off Somerset it was decided, and by the time I sat down in my wobbly office chair in the beige cubicle of the law firm, I was fully committed to the idea. I Googled things like, “how to become a wedding photographer,” and “best lenses to shoot weddings.” It was only an hour before that Ryan was asking me what it was I needed to be able to succeed, and now I scribbled the following things on one of those pink you’ve-got-messages notepads:

Get a good camera
Buy a few lenses
Camera bag
Editing software (no idea about this…)
Some memory cards (how big?)
A flash
A website
Book some shoots, for…free?

I was listening to a podcast by Gary Vaynerchuk the other day, which outlined the 3 pillars of becoming an entrepreneur. I’ll paraphrase but essentially it went like this:

ONE // Go to school, get the degree, and earn the piece of paper that tells the world it's okay to trust you.

TWO // Find someone who already does what you want to do and learn from them until you have the skills to do it yourself.

THREE // Eat shit and learn it the hard way.

Gary shouted through my headphones that he was number 3. Experts recommend number 2. And 99% of the world sticks with number 1.

I didn’t know it at the time but my unconscious decision to be number 3 would shape my business for the rest of my life.


Now here’s the part where I regale you with tales about how my business was born. It’s not meant to be a how-to guide because it certainly wasn’t perfect. But what it will be is factual, real, and raw.

By noon that day I had snagged myself 10 free shoots using an ad on Kijiji, offering an hour long session with as many photos as I could give, with full declaration that I was brand new at this and was simply looking to build a portfolio. I had these 10 dates doodled on an envelope at my desk, and walked to Grand&Toy on my lunch hour to purchase an agenda to put them in.

I remember that walk like it was yesterday. My feet felt weightless and the possibilities were euphoric. I prayed the feeling would never go away.