Today feels like a big day. Even as I'm writing this, I keep thinking, "Wait, this is for real?" And it is.
But I feel like I need to give a little backstory first...
I remember sitting in my cubicle in the P-3 building of State Farm. I had basically been handed a job right out of college and it had landed me in a sales position. It was a great company...one I'll always love because of the opportunity it gave me...but I also knew it wasn't what I'd envisioned for my life. I was the girl that was going to be the actress, the astronaut, the jockey, a talk show host, and more realistically, the lawyer. I had never dreamt of being a sales rep selling auto insurance...and not very well, I might add.
I didn't hate my job...but I also knew it wasn't necessarily a good fit. I worked hard and was decent...but knew this wasn't a long-term reality. Pretty quickly, I started seeing not just months pass but years. I moved to a couple different departments...new positions. I decided to try out photography on the side...so I bought a URL, a camera, and made my big announcement.
It was somewhere about that time that I was sitting at work when I got an email from my sister telling me that she started following a photographer out in California. She said, "I keep feeling like I'm reading your story...this girl reminds me of you because she was homeschooled, she worked for an insurance company, she was going to be a lawyer, she likes to write, and now she's a photographer. You should read her blog...her name is Jasmine Star." If you're in the wedding photography world, most likely, you know her name.
To be honest? I didn't think I'd read it. I wasn't much for reading blogs...just writing my own. But it was late one evening and I looked her up...and the next thing I knew, I'd read all her post from the previous 5 years. This girl was telling my story...or maybe, the story I wished was mine. I began following her career, and a few months later, heard her speak in Chicago. I remember 2 things from that day...1. She walked in and said, "Helllllooooooo DC!!!" to a Chicago crowd. I thought it was hilarious...I was trying so hard to hold in my laugh because that's completely a mistake I would've made and I thought, "Yep, I like her." and 2. She said that her husband JD told her, "I would rather you fail at something you love than succeed at something you hate."
That next evening, I was sitting in a team meeting at work and we were each supposed to go around and say what our dream job would be. It varied from landscaper, nurse, stay at home mom, professor...and me? Talk show host. :) What struck me is that no one...not ONE person said sales rep for an insurance company. We were all succeeding at something we didn't love. And I walked out of that meeting knowing I was going to take the chance on photography and resign with State Farm.
Through the years, I met Jasmine one or two more times at different events she spoke at...and each time, she was extremely kind to me. For some reason, I always wanted to cry and pour out my life to her! Ha! That's embarrassing. Her blog became my reference point for photography and business questions I had.
About 3 years ago, she taught an online class with Creative Live called reSTARt in Seattle, WA. I flew out to be an audience member. After the last day, everyone was at the wrap party and talking to her. I was tired and I could only imagine how exhausted she must have been feeling. Not wanting to make her talk to one more person, I turned to leave with my friend when she called me out. I'm so glad she did, because we ended up talking a little and that was probably the first 'for real' conversation we had. After we talked, she asked to take a picture with me...I knew she didn't need a picture of us...but she was offering it 'cause she knew I'd never ask. :)
Last fall, Jasmine and JD were in Chicago to shoot a wedding, and she contacted me to see if I could recommend someone to act as an assistant for the day...and I think in a drawn-out polite way I basically said, "Um, yes!!...ME!!" :) I followed them around watching firsthand how they shot a wedding, and I felt like I was an incredibly lucky student watching a team that does is so incredibly well. But what struck me even more than their photography was they are who I hoped they were. They consistently thanked me, included me, and trusted me. We talked, laughed...and I knew I was leaving with them as friends.
Since then, Jasmine and I kept in contact as she has talked me through business decisions, personal decisions, and has been a great sounding board for me. A couple months later, she blew me away by asking if I'd consider assisting her and JD again...this time while she shot The Knot Dream Wedding. I'll be honest...I wouldn't have said yes if I didn't believe in her and her business. I wouldn't. I knew it was going to be a huge day, leading up to it, and following the day...but I didn't hesitate for a moment...because of who she is. I was in and incredibly honored to help represent her brand.
I write all this because come September, I will be moving out to California to join her team in an assistant/apprenticeship role. In talking with Jasmine, we both feel like this is good timing and an extremely exciting step!!
I've been asked if I will still shoot Chicago weddings and my answer is...
ABSOLUTELY!!!! I will continue to shoot Chicago weddings and central Illinois weddings, and destination weddings. None of this will change. I am open for bookings and I definitely remain a wedding photographer.
This feels big to me...but in a good way. A very good way. It's not lost on me for a second with what an incredible opportunity this is...it's going to be an adventure!! I'll be sharing on here, Instagram and writing along the way!!