This will definitely be one of my “wordiest” blog posts because it truly is hard to put into words all that happened that led me to where I am today. Some days, this business still feels like a dream. Other days, it is hard to imagine what life was like before I was shooting weddings most weekends. Either way, I am grateful. If you have had any part in my journey or you can read through this lengthy blog post, I am grateful for YOU.
So, let’s start from the very, very beginning. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love babies. Like, really really love them. When I was a sophomore in high school my parents decided to apply to be foster parents. While we are certified for children up to age 8, we have only ever fostered newborns based on who needs to be placed, when, where, etc. My parents had adopted my older brother before I was born, so they were familiar with the ups and downs that can come with fostering. We were looking forward to having a small part in bringing joy to other families in the ways that we have experienced the joys of adoption in our own family.
As we filled out the mountains of paperwork, did every background check you could ever imagine, had several home studies, bought so many baby clothes, and painted a nursery in our house, we were ready!
Once we were approved, we just had to wait until we got “the call” that there was a child in need. When that call finally came around, we put the car seat in the car, packed a hospital bag, and headed to the hospital. We then brought home a two day old sweet baby boy who would be the first of many foster babies to spend time in our house.
When we brought him home, it was definitely a lot of what we expected and also so much that we didn’t expect at all. I still remember being leaving the hospital staring at his perfect face wondering how anyone could ever part ways with such a beautiful baby. While spending time with a new baby is always exciting, there was also a lot of grief. We were bonding with a baby whose mother so selflessly chose to give him a better life. Even though it was a choice, our hearts still hurt for her knowing it could not have been easy leaving the hospital without him.
The rest of the time was the perfect newborn blur. So much happy and so little sleep. When we found out that he had been matched with a family, we wanted to do something to give them memories of the time he spent in our home. Since my family only has a handful of pictures of my brother from when he was a baby, we thought that they would appreciate having them. When it came time to print the pictures to put in a baby album, we realized they were terrible lol. SO this is when I picked up a camera.
Once that sweet baby boy was adopted, I made it my mission to be better prepared for the next baby that we had. I had one of my dad’s cameras that he uses in his dental offices, a small DSLR that allowed me to practice. I watched Youtube videos, took pictures of bushes, and pretty much practiced on anyone that would let me.
After teaching myself the basics, I decided that it would be best to learn from someone who is a pro. At 15 years old, I sent out probably what is a very cringe worthy email to local photographers in the area offering to assist and hoping to learn. While many replied and were so sweet, many did not need help at the time. However, Trisha, of Trisha Sheehan Photography, responded and was truly a God send during the early years of trying to build a business. Trisha is THE newborn photographer in our area and after meeting her once, it was clear to see why. She is incredible at what she does, kind, and completely took me under her wing. While there wasn’t much I could do at the time to thank her, other than bringing donuts to all the sessions I assisted on, I am still to this day SO thankful for her. Not to mention, she will be high up on the list of people I call as soon as I found out I am pregnant one day because she is THAT good!
While I quickly realized I was not cut out to be a full time newborn photographer, it helped me to learn the basics and better photograph our foster babies. Despite knowing I would probably pursue other areas of photography, I still enjoyed assisting Trisha throughout high school – mostly because she was fun to hang out with and I occasionally skipped school – oops!
As time passed and I built on the foundation that I had established in teaching myself and working with Trisha, we had more foster babies in our house, which also meant filling more scrapbooks for adoptive families.
In the mean time, I was accepted into college and was set to leave for Virginia Tech after I graduated in 2015. My goal was to book a wedding before graduation and what a blessing it was when that day finally came! When heading off to college, I wasn’t sure what would happen to my baby business since I was moving 5 hours from home. However, after moving to Blacksburg and seeing the opportunities, I began marketing anyways. After many, many college seniors and sorority shoots, my business flourished. I began receiving more inquiries for weddings and worked hard to maintain every aspect of the life that I was building as a freshman in college.
Despite things picking up in Blacksburg, I almost always still drove home when I received the news that a baby was being brought home. Nothing relieves stress like having a newborn baby sleep on your chest. Not to mention, scrapbooks were and still are an important component to me. My business was built on them and they still bring a smile to my face when adoptive parents open them on adoption days.
In the spring of my freshman year, I applied for my business license to make things official. Looking back, I definitely had no idea what I was doing- just trusting a bigger plan than I could ever have for myself.
Now almost four years later, it feels surreal to be out of college and pursuing this dream full time. I am thankful for the unique road that let me here and for every single person who has supported me. This truly has been one of the greatest journeys of my life and I am so excited to see where it leads next.
If you made it to the end, you’re the real MVP. Thank you for following along and supporting my dreams!