February 21, 2019
This time of year there are posts about our accomplishments in 2018 and what we’re looking forward to in 2019. I would love to write one of those posts too, but in this new year, marking my 5th year in business, I can’t help but think about where I started.
This post is amusing, don’t get me wrong!! Permission to laugh is very much given. I was a noob. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I thought I knew myself and knew my limits, but oh boy was I wrong. Starting a business from scratch with very little experience and hardly any professional equipment was an uphill battle. BUT, I had passion and fire and I was willing to give it my best shot!
5 years later and I am actually really emotional writing this!! I think back to all the clients I’ve had and how much I poured my literal heart and soul into them and their wedding photography experience.
I think about how so many of them blessed me and so many have become real-life friends.
I think about the physical endurance I’ve battled- multiple trips to the chiropractor, doctors, and massage therapist and physiotherapist. I don’t have a serious condition, I just didn’t realize sitting at a desk for hours and then standing for hours while carrying heavy equipment would take such a toll on my body.
I learned a TON about work-life boundaries and how to prioritize my marriage and friendships and God and other social commitments in my life all while giving 70 hours a week to my photography business at times.
I’ve cried a lot. Whether about being lonely in this industry or just doubting myself altogether. I laughed a heck of a lot more. With my couples and with other friends I’ve met along the way.
I’ve had adventures. I’ve traveled all over the UK and Europe for weddings and lifestyle sessions.
I’ve found myself saying yes to things I shouldn’t have and yes to things that changed the course of my business for the better.
I made BIG mistakes like… forgetting ALL my SD cards on an engagement shoot 2 hours from my house. Miracle story: when I realized my cards were not in my camera bag and remembered I had left them on my desk after clearing them from a previous shoot, I gave one look at Joel and he immediately started Googling Currys and PC World, anywhere he could run to buy new cards for me. All shops were 45 minutes away and sunset was in 60 minutes. I broke the news to my couple. Completely defeated and embarrassed. But low and behold, they said the words that sent angels down from heaven, “Oh, no worries. I think I have one somewhere in my bag!” They pulled an SD card out of their bag and I ended up shooting the whole session on that one card!! Nay and Dan, you guys will always be legends in my book. I’m still thanking you for rescuing my sorry butt!!
I also made big victory leaps like traveling for the first time to Sicily on my own for my very first destination wedding which I was VIDEOING, another thing I had never done before. It took me only about 5 months to finish the video (omg) and the coupled LOVED it. Don’t worry, the bride and groom knew it was my first time and that it would take a few months to have the final video. Always be upfront and honest with what you can deliver to meet your client’s expectations… trust me on that one. ;)
In all honesty, I have no idea where the next 5 years will take me. I would love to photograph more adventurous, outdoorsy weddings and destination weddings and elopements. I would love to improve even more on my ability to put couples at ease and really draw out their personalities, love, and joy with natural cues and direction. I’d love to keep balancing my work life and add others to the Hannah K. team. And I am SO excited to continue sharing what I’ve learned through one-to-one mentoring sessions.
I wouldn’t be writing this without you. You might be one person surfing the vast interweb but your time, likes and comments really do add to the bigger picture. Thank you for being here! You are valuable. And thank you to all my couples, past, present and future for your investment and trust in me. And to my family and friends who have helped this business crawl off the ground and become my full-time job. If I can even call it a job. ;) Okay, Oscars speech over.
Now for your enjoyment… here are some MAJOR embarrassing throwbacks.
My very first headshots taken by my husband in the park near our house. I want to cry seeing this girl who had hardly more than a Rebel T1i camera with a kit lens and a whole lot of determination. I am proud of this version of me. I wish I could go back in time and tell her and her floral bandana scarf that her frustrations and failures will sum up to be something pretty great… just take it one day at a time.
One big risk that paid off was reaching out to a photographer in Pennsylvania who photographed a friend of a friend’s wedding. I first met Caroline Logan Photography in my email inbox, but she made me feel like we’d been friends forever and that’s when I knew, “I want to be like that.” I then saved up more money than I ever had before and booked a one-on-one mentoring session with her in London at a time when she was backpacking through Europe (wild, right?!). She gave me so much more confidence and assured me that I was going in the right direction. Investing in myself like this was SO valuable for my business. She also took these headshots and we’re still friends today! Sending big love to you, Caroline!
From the beginning, I was drawn to light and airy photography. I tried to achieve this for over two years and it wasn’t until my 3rd year of business that I really felt I was able to achieve the look I wanted from the start. Here are 2016 and 2017 promo photos, courtesy of my man!
Check out that angle…
Completely inconsistent edits and those shadowed eyes again?! Still finding my feet…
Notice the cheesy logo?
I owe so much to my friends for being willing to stand in front of my camera when I had no clue what I was doing! Advice to any photographer starting out… even if you have no idea what you’re doing or how to use your camera or direct your subject, just PRACTICE. Keep shooting, keep making mistakes and keep learning.
My first paid engagement shoots… and again a completely different editing styles!
About a year in I think and starting to find my editing style but still not 100% with the outcome.
In 2011 my friends flew me to Pennsylvania to photograph their outdoor wedding. I love these dear friends and I know their wedding photos are special to them. I can’t believe how much has changed since then though!
I legit delivered this photo of a tea light… don’t ask me why
Another friend’s wedding (I owe SO much to my friends!!) and sadly I made so many mistakes with the bridal preparation shots. Yellow light, no window light anywhere, weird angle, blurry, not an attractive moment with tissue under her eye!!
Another moment I thought was worthy of being delivered… nobody’s face recognized, bad lighting, what the heck is even going on, no story telling.
And then it was like I did a complete 180 and changed my editing style YET AGAIN. Again, my first year in my business and my dear friends Dan and Christen let me photograph their wedding. They are energetic and so full of fun and I am proud I at least captured a bit of that! Can’t say I love these yellow greens though…
I also had no clue how to use flash… I was probably shooting with over £2,000 worth of equipment here and it may as well have been shot with a disposable camera. It is true my friends, the camera does NOT make the photographer.
It’s obvious that I had a LOT of growing to do. If I learned anything the past 5 years it’s that putting in the hard work day in and day out, literally putting one metaphorical foot in front of the other, will eventually get you somewhere. I’m so happy now that I know how to make my flash work for me. I know how to set up pretty detail shots that actually do your details justice! I know how to balance yellow light to make it light and bright. I know how to use flattering composition and angles, capture action and emotion and utilize locations. I still have plentyyyy of room to grow, but to see this progress is really quite encouraging! The hard work pays off my friends, just keep going! Some recent work to hopefully redeem myself…
Even my packaging took a MASSIVE turn for the better!
I mean WOW. If there’s ever a better time to book Hannah K. Photography it’s now folks! Hahah.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure and here’s to another 5 years of lessons learned and plenty of growth!