Friday, April 6, 2018

the story of a life changed | part two




By the time I met up with Ryan after work, I was a photographer. He looked at me like I was crazy when I said I had already lined up my first round of clients and had arranged to pick up a camera bag from some guy on Kijiji later that evening. 

Pause for a quick note about this camera bag: it was giant. I still have it and use it and I don’t know how I will ever part with it. I bought it when I owned one camera and the lens that it came with. Nothing more. And yet here was this bag with 6 slots for lenses I didn't own and the encouragement that I would get there one day. You know that saying, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" -- well let's just say I was carrying the bag of the photographer I wanted to be. 

Over the next 2 weeks I managed to buy some equipment: a 60mm macro lens that’s still with me today, a 50mm f1.4 that I've since replaced, two SB 700 flashes, and a handful of memory cards. I opened a gmail account, and had a friend design a logo for me. I contacted a website designer in downtown Ottawa and began collecting photos to populate it. I was a girl with a plan. 

Within a month I had my very first cookie cutter website, which proudly used verbiage like “Laura Kelly specializes in…” and “Book your free consultation NOW!” I was proud enough of it to share it on Facebook, but that’s about all I remember from this very first site. 


After my very successful ad on Kijiji from the month before, their staff contacted me about doing a Kijiji Daily Deal. HEYOOO, I thought I had made it. Kijiji wanted to work with ME?! I sold 33 packages through that deal, which gave me more than enough beautiful photos to fill up my newly designed website. One shoot in particular nudged me in the direction that photographing couples might be the way to go… 


Even back then I knew that blurry happy people were better than sharp and bored people. 

P.S. I'm sharing these images with the original watermark that I used at the time, just to give it that extra bit of pazazz I was rocking in 2012... I truly hope you're appreciating it. 

I wish I could tell you some profound story about the first wedding I ever photographed, but it really wasn’t that eventful! The couple was getting married at City Hall and responded to my free ad after thinking they weren’t going to have any photos taken at all. 


While they probably felt like anything I could give to them would be above their expectations (I mean, you can't expect much from the free girl on Kijiij...), I did the very best that I could with the knowledge that opportunities like this didn’t come around very often. 

The story ends exactly as you’d imagine: they were happy with the photos, and I could now call myself a wedding photographer. And the one or two photos that were useable were displayed on the back of my very first business cards. But you'll have to kill me before I ever share that full gallery...the fishbowl lens is not a good look. 

My days at the law firm were spent on Google, searching for anything that I could get my hands on about learning to be a pro-photographer. I learned to work so quickly on my legal assistant tasks so that I could give myself more time to pour into my new business. I knew that the only way this would work was if I was still killing it in the assistant game, allowing Laura Kelly Photography to go completely unnoticed. Emails were answered in record time, files were delivered to the lawyers desks with a smile and a fresh coffee, and I signed up to run the party planning committee. 

My 33 Kijiji sessions were a breeze. I had this very fancy line that I would tell clients about how I was "just finishing up another session before yours, so would it be possible to meet at 12:30pm on Parliament Hill?" 

AKA: My lunch break. 


With a camera in my purse and a green apple for my walk over, I made this lunch hour shooting trick work a few dozen times over. And I can proudly say I know of every little nook and cranny within walking distance from 160 Elgin Street. 


Back at the office, while scrolling through a forum about portfolio building I read a comment that said: “we can’t all be 26, beautiful, and living in California like Jasmine Star – some of us have to work extra hard to be mediocre.” 

I now know that finding that name was like coming up for air. My whole game was about to change.