The year was 2019...

LOL, I like to think I'm funny and also pretend I'm some sort of professional writer when I compose these stunningly articulated blogs. Read on and you will see that my professional skills are best directed towards photography *insert laughing emoji*. Alright, now that I've made myself cringe, I'm ready to fill you in on how I came to be a wedding photographer! Let me tell you, it wasn't my original life plan. It was something that was created organically over time and I am still amazed at how I uncovered one of my life's biggest passions by taking a series of big and small steps that I didn't plan out. It kind of feels like this route was my #destiny as I am a rather type A person who appreciates the best laid plans.

I guess it makes sense to start things before the year of 2019... Growing up, I loved adventure. I was outside whenever I could be. I spent my time playing in the forest, on farms, riding horses, quads and on bike ride adventures. When I became a teenager, my favourite thing to do with my friends was to find a new trail, park or river to explore. I grew up on the mainland in and around Abbotsford, BC and there was no shortage of space to roam. I've always felt my best being outdoors and I knew that when I grew up, I didn't want to grow up and spend my life behind a desk. I wanted to do something that involved those great outdoors that I loved so much.

Going to high school was not my most favourite thing to do, as my attendance record would show. Actually, until this day I have dreams that I failed and didn't graduate (which thankfully didn't happen). During these years, I experienced a great deal of tragedy and sadness that had me thinking about the big mystery of life at a young age. When I was at school, I excelled in very few areas with the exception of law, environmental science, reading/comprehension and psychology. Math was my nemesis. In the gap year I took after highschool, I realized I would need to do some upgrading in order to get into university and pursue any kind of dream. While upgrading, I had to fill my course load and I ended up taking a program that was heavily rooted in First Nations History and the preservation of The Great Bear Rainforest. I found it fascinating and was always overdelivering on assignments as I felt so passionate about it. In passing, talked to a friends' Mom's Boyfriend who had taken this program on Vancouver Island that was all about natural resource management and outdoor conservation. I remember being wow'd that it was an actual area of study. I looked into the program called Resource Management Officer Technology, offered through two schools. One being in Prince George, the other being Nanaimo. I was definitely in favour of the island life. I immediately set my sites on this program and did everything I could to get in. Oh by the way, I definitely ran this back as this year was 2010. I took a course on hunting and firearms, learned more about wilderness survival and took in all the information I could to prepare for this program. It was a program designed to prepare you to go one of two routes. Becoming a Conservation or Fisheries Officer or a Wildlife Biologist. Learning that they had over 250 applicants every year and they chose only 24, I felt a little disheartened but I was entirely determined to get in. A few ferry rides and interviews later, my letter came and I was accepted! I packed up my 18 year old life and moved to a small home in Cedar, just outside of Nanaimo with my best friend. We spent the summer exploring the beautiful island, both starting school in the fall.

Well that September, in my class I met my now husband. We started off as friends and quickly became inseparable. About 6 months later, we moved in together and spent the rest of our college days by each others side. We got to do our practicum together in the Pacific Rim National Park in Tofino which was amazing. We studied together and even got to take a wilderness survival trip (think outdoors, overnight, in the winter with only a bag of 10 survival items- yes I have stories) We also learned in the program that jobs on the island or southwest part of Canada in our field were rare. We were likely going to have to take contract positions in central, northern or eastern Canada to get experience under our belt. This also meant we would likely be thousands of kilometres apart. By this time, we had been together for almost two years and that just wasn't going to happen. My husband (then boyfriend) managed to get a job in aquaculture in Nanaimo which was also part of our program (lucky guy) and I decided to go back to school for something I thought I could do anywhere. Accounting! How interesting for someone who hates math and spending all their time at a desk, LOL. It was a smart move though because it provided me with a stable job, steady income.

Between university programs, I had been bartending, farming, managing a restaurant and gaining some life skills as a young person. We camped a lot, explored a lot and spent our free time exploring local resorts and hopping over to Mexico a time or two. Anyway, accounting.... I made my way into a bookkeeping position for various small businesses and then to a large company on Vancouver island in their accounting department. Set up in a union I was thinking this was my path for life. I enjoyed the security my job offered and as a goal setter, I liked the idea of the future I could see myself having.

Ok, NOW we are at 2018. My husband and I are engaged and planing our wedding. The passion for the outdoors was still there, spending our free time at the beach and I was running competitively and training for my first half marathon. We had this beautiful house with expansive ocean views and the best sun deck, ever. We grew big veggie gardens each year and soaked in the simple life. It was in quiet Ladysmith and we loved wandering the town with our pup, trying out new restaurants and having picnics during the concerts in the park. Life was pretty damn good.

So fast forward some more and we are married (yay!) and find out that on our honeymoon we conceived a new member of our family, something which was entirely unplanned. We began making plans and embarking on our newest journey yet. Spring of 2019, we had our beautiful baby girl and I was on a year long maternity leave. I had always said to my husband that I wanted to be able to have photos decorating my home that were meaningful. Art that was part of our story and adventure. Along with that and wanting to take 23238637463746 photos of my new little girl, he gifted me a DSLR camera for my birthday. I started taking pictures of everything. Literally everything. I remember taking photos of my potted indoor plants LOL. Along with my daughter, my dog and our outdoor garden. I was slowly learning all the technical aspects of photography and realizing how much I loved it. I was always so excited to capture new things and then play with the images on my computer, trying out different styles of editing and learning how to use the software. I kept taking photos of our daughter growing, our family gatherings and anything else that interested me. I decided that I might want to pursue some type of side business or hobby in capturing people as I realized they were my favourite subjects. I offered free sessions to families and couples, realizing how much I enjoyed those connections and capturing special moments for others.

Before returning to work from maternity leave, I decided I wanted to make it official. I registered as a business and began charging small amounts for engagement and family photography. I started branching out later in the year, capturing maternity and other portrait sessions as well. One of the very first couples I had photographed, had asked me if I was interested in photographing their wedding. Knowing that I was new to the art and just starting out in business, we took the leap! I stayed over 8 hours at their wedding and charged very little. I was so incredibly grateful for the experience. I was also hooked! From there, I attended some in person and online workshops spending hours expanding my craft. I planned my own styled elopements and continued to grow any way I could. I would work my full time job, come home for family time and spend nights on my computer, slowly building my business and honing my craft.

During the time we are alllll familiar with of 2020/2021, gatherings were limited as were weddings and events. I started taking on small elopements and had collaborated with local businesses to offer an Adventure Elopement Package (which I still do to this day). As difficult as that time was for all of us, it was a period of growth for me on a smaller event scale which was ideal. As I mentioned, none of this was overly planned. I worked hard and knew I was passionate but there was an element of it all falling together. By the time we were on the other side of that trying time, I was pretty well established. I had weddings and elopements under my belt, a decent website, a beautiful logo, social media portfolio and was continuing to learn. I was also currently the photographer for a local magazine where I would feature a family each month along with their story and I would capture them with a session in Nanaimo. My photos were on the cover and there was a magazine spread included too. This was great for exposure and growth as well.

In late 2021, I was at a crossroads. My seemingly forever path at desk life was coming to an end as my position with company was ceasing to exist and the office I worked at was closing. I could take an offered lateral move within the company or I could leave and jump head first into my business. I chose my business. I knew that I wanted to be self employed and that I wanted the freedom to be around for my daughter. Volunteering at school, being available for pick up and drop off and having an overall flexible schedule unlike the 9-5 model of office life. I also wanted to spend all my work hours on something I was truly passionate about, because- who doesn't? Being that I now had a family and wanted to ensure stability, I took a part time administrative position with a local land surveying company 2 days a week for a year before leaving that post and having my business be my sole income. Both steps were scary but totally worth it. Being self employed has been a learning journey (and still is) There is so much freedom in it and also so much riding on you when you are a one person show. You have to keep grinding to keep up your momentum. It might look easy, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's been a tonne of hard work. As they say "blood, sweat and tears". But it has been entirely worth it.

There were a few moments that things felt really real for me in the business of wedding photography. Capturing and planning adventure elopements, and planning some of my bigger styled shoots. In 2022, I was published in West Coast Weddings magazine and I remember being absolutely floored by that. Going into bridal shops and seeing my work was astounding. In early 2023, I found out I had won Best Styled Elopement at the Vancouver Island Wedding Awards. I was also a finalist for Best Engagement Photo and Best Group Photo. Again, it was unbelievable. To this day it all still wows me. The way that I got here and the steps along the way. I often say in social media captions that I am so grateful for every experience I have had, every couple who has loved my work, trusted me and promoted my business and everyone else who helped me get to where I am today.

I get to connect with amazing people, spend time on the beautiful coast I love so much and where my passion first began, I am privileged to adventure and explore and it's truly a dream come true. I feel like my story is a testament to focusing on what you love and the rest will follow. There's nothing in my heart that says this isn't where I am meant to be. Through this process I have learned to trust myself, my judgement and grown so much as a person who is also a business owner, a wife and a mom.

There is a whole person behind every small business and they all have a story of how they got there and why they do what they do.

This is still just the beginning and I can't wait to see where it takes me next.