JANUARY 2, 2020

I (Stephanie) wrote this little photography journey several years ago and thought that it would be the perfect article to have as the first blog of the new year. If you've read it before, sorry for the repeat story (but there is some added content at the end). If this is your first time here, enjoy the story and let me know what you think!

I have loved photography for a long time. I remember getting my very first 35 mm camera for Christmas,1988. It wasn't until the next Christmas though that I started to learn some aspects of photography.

We used to always go to the mountains on Christmas Eve to spend it with my mom's side of the family. This particular Christmas, there was snow up there and we were going to have a very white Christmas. My grandmother on my father's side (we call her Buddy) had asked me to take some pictures of the snow for her to see. I agreed and went right to work as soon as we got to my Nonni & Nonno's house. It wasn't until I had taken half a roll of film when my parents helped me realize that what Buddy wanted to see were the snow capped mountains and the beautiful landscape of snow covered pine trees... not pictures of the actual snow as I had been taking. (Close your eyes and picture this for a moment... a chubby 7-year-old girl standing with her camera pointed straight down to the ground taking a very literal picture of the snow. That was me! ha ha)

Fast forward several years to my college years. It was here that I learned more about manual settings, developing film and processing pictures. I spent a whole semester in the dark room in McLane Hall at Fresno State. I loved getting to be in there and honestly spent hours sometimes just making pictures. I also learned a lot more about composition, lighting and just what makes a good photo. It was also during these years that my camera became attached to my hip. My very busy social calendar made it easy for me to practice and to take thousands upon thousands of pictures, and all of them were with a 35 mm film camera (not the same one from 1987... I purchased a brand new Pentax camera used it until the day I upgraded to digital in 2006). Even after college, I continued taking thousands of pictures. Family vacations, concerts, game nights at home, family bar-b-ques... I don't think there was a moment of our lives that were not captured on film.

While in college, I had several friends who had gotten married. One of these friends asked me if I would be willing to be their photographer. I gladly accepted. Let me tell you, I was so nervous! It was my first "professional" gig... ever! To make it worse, it was a wedding! Only one of the most important moments in someone's life! I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I had messed this up and there was do-over if it didn't go right! Fortunately, they turned out pretty good and the bride & groom were very happy with them (or so they said!). It was then that I thought about maybe doing it more seriously. From there, I had some friends ask me to do their senior photos and some family photos. My portfolio was starting to build and I thought that I was doing a really good job. I started looking for jobs as assistants or anything I could to help other photographers, but nobody wanted to hire me. So finally I just decided I would put it on the back burner. I was convinced that the timing just wasn't right. However, my love for photography never faded.

Several years pass, I started working my job at the radio station and my photography changed paths to mostly taking pictures at Disneyland, still with my 35mm. One trip we took over 50 rolls of film and it was shortly after that we decided that I needed to invest in digital. I didn't want one of those little point and shoot cameras though. I had my eye on a digital SLR. So, in the start of 2006, I used my tax refund and bought myself a digital SLR Pentax and I was in Heaven!

Then came along the addition of Facebook, MySpace and other social media into our lives. These sites let you share your photos with family and friends in an instant. Some of them were awesome, but then some of them made me cringe. I had found myself looking at other peoples pictures and feeling bad for the people in them. Wedding and family photos were the worst for me! The posing was not at all flattering and the pictures were just downright awful! I would find thoughts creeping into my head that I could do better (Sidebar... I'm not claiming to know everything and I know I still have a lot of learning to do), but I really didn't want to follow the crowd of people who were now doing photography for a living. I felt that with digital cameras also came the attitude that anyone can be a photographer and I had a whole slue of friends who were jumping on the bandwagon. I didn't want to become just another person with a fancy camera and a good eye, but there was one thing that I keep going back to.

When others looked at my pictures, they were impressed and would mention that I should think about doing it on the side. I had friends ask me to do engagement pictures, senior photos and family photos... and they paid me for it. It was nice to have some additional income and I loved being able to give the gift of a good photo to people.

Then, I met David. He had experience with video in the past and thought that it would be cool to try his hand at still photography. He is very technical minded and picked up the manual settings in no time at all, something that I had struggled with for years! It was meant to be! David could run the camera and I could do the posing... a match made in Heaven.

So, in 2011, we decided to give this photography business a try and it has been an amazing journey. Our clients might start out as strangers to us, but they always end up as friends. We love getting to watch the kids grow up over the years and be included in the most important times in their lives. It brings us so much joy to see these photos on your walls and we are so proud to call you part of our family. And to me, that's what it's all about.