As I’m expanding my business, updating the website, finishing orders, and finalizes my store front with The Knot I can’t help but have a moment of nostalgia and reminisce about who I was and just how far I’ve come in fourteen years. I was once a young and hopeless kid who was afraid of growing up; I had the Peter Pan Syndrome. At only eighteen years of age I had no plans to go far, only dreams. One, which I’d had since I was very young was to become a detective and be able to work specifically in Sex Crimes;
I wanted to be Olivia Benson from Law and Order SVU. Ever since I was in 6th grade I told all my teachers and my parents I was going to be a special agent or part of the FBI. Big dreams for such a little girl, but I really wanted to wear a suit like Will Smith and save the white house from aliens, or something like that. I even went as far as to tell my mom I wanted to be a spy and have my picture on the side of a bus. I had life goals as a young child that were very extravagant and farfetched—all I knew for certain was that I wanted to be something cool and I wanted to better the world. As I got older I wanted a meaningful career that would allow me to show my personal strengths to provide help where it was needed. I felt that with my background and my somewhat difficult childhood I could provide support and maybe help another struggling child or teenager, I wanted to make a difference and become a role model to someone who needed one.
I remember in high school myself and all my classmates would be forced to sit in on these boring career seminars, they wanted to prepare us for our futures and look into all the possibilities! Well, I remember clear as day thinking, “this is a crock of sh*t, who wants to sit here and listen to these people talk?” In hindsight I wish I hadn’t been such a bullheaded teenager, because a lot of those career driven men and women are now the people I iodizes and hope to become. Time passed and after several career seminars the day came that I realized I had to decide what I wanted to be, it was time to grow up—and I had no idea what that career would be.
It’s been nearly six years since I graduated high school—I had the whole world right in front of me with no idea what I wanted to be or who I would become. Like most new graduates I just kind of flitted and floated, I set out to find myself and along the way I fell in love and became a mother at nineteen. The day the nurse handed me my sweet, little, cubby face baby girl was the day my life forever changed. I knew then I was no longer living my life for myself, but I was living it for someone else. I longed to understand what my purpose in life was to be and as a young mother I was now facing the reality of what kind of future I wanting to give my child? Something more and something better was the obvious choice. I wanted to go out and show the world I could be someone and that being a young mother wasn’t going to keep me from the life I was destined to live, the life I dreamed about not just for myself now but for my baby girl as well. I still had no idea what it was that I would be doing but I knew that I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. I wanted to show my daughter that if you want something in life you have to work hard and make sh*t happen—you can’t expect an opportunity to just fall in your lap, if you want it you have to go out and grab it!
After the birth of my daughter in 2009 I decided I’d enroll for the fall of 2010 semester and I decided I’d follow my childhood dreams and study Criminal Justice and man oh man I was so nervous. I was very apprehensive about getting back into the game, my entire high school career I was bullied non-stop. I’d come home in tears most days and it was a constant battle between my parents and I to get me to go back to school the next day. I was not a fan of school and I definitely did not enjoy learning. Needless to say, the whole process was daunting but I knew had to at least try, I wanted to prove to myself I could—I needed to prove to myself that I could see a goal to complete fulfillment. My first semester back was a definite struggle and I didn’t do the best I could have but I wasn’t ready to give up yet, life is full of speed bumps and I had hit my first one.
During that first semester I learned real quickly that my dream of being an FBI agent was unrealistic for my life’s path. After I realized the amount of training and amount of time I’d be spending way from home, it was no longer an option for me. Although I was disheartened, I didn’t let this little glitch in my plan get me down. I broadened my horizons and stuck to the plan that I wanted to be something great. Being a young mother and also working full time it was nearly impossible to go to school full time as well—so cramming my schedule with as many classes as I possibly could I study my butt off for two years and immersed myself in the U.S. legal system, homeland security, and behavioral sciences. I also found the time to join the Citizens Academy in Culpeper to learn more about local law in my community. I had never been more excited about learning and the next semester was fantastic, I surprised myself and made all A’s & B’s. I was floored and absolutely enthralled with my success—this was the first time since elementary school that I’d done this well. I chalked up my grades to the fact that I cared about what I was learning, I was learning something I loved and I was learning from true professionals—all my teachers were real local law enforcement agents, FBI agents, and security guards. I was having the time of my life and I could finally say I loved going to school—but life has a funny way of happening and one day a full time job fell into my lap, I struggled with my desire to finish my degree and the necessity to support my family—ultimately I put my dreams on hold to do what I needed to do. During this time I began fiddling with a camera and playing with photography as a hobby, I found myself escaping back to my childhood—I had always been taken with photography, ever since middle school when all the bullying started, I’d use it to escape my harsh reality. I was the oddball artsy kid that loved the color of sunsets and beauty of meadows full of flowers each spring. I began capturing everything I could, it became all about the little things—the joy this hobby brought me completely melted my worries away; behind the lens I was free.
The next six years have had their ups and downs—I never had the chance to return to school to finish my education and money was very tight. There wasn’t much flexibility so I stuck it out, working with a Nikon D40 for the first few years as I was developing my business. Eventually with a little luck and hard work I upgraded to a Nikon D7000, and now I am finally rocking a very snazzy Nikon D800. In the beginning I worked using the basics and taught myself whatever I could to hone my craft. I didn’t really think my hobby would turn into anything like it has, I wasn’t completely sure of myself and I didn’t think I was good enough to be a professional; but with many encouraging words from my family I continued to pursue my passion of photography. I shots weddings, family & children and I loved it but something was still missing inside of myself, it was fun but I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. I knew I wouldn’t be happy until I could make that happen. So with that being said I began taking on jobs working for local newspapers. With them I was able to photograph sports, local events and even a house fire. I was excited and I loved it… but then life caught up with me again. I left my camera to pursue another career choice, banking. It wasn’t the same but I didn’t mind it and I did have some great times. I enjoyed being able to connect with the clients we serviced and being able to bring a smile to their faces, it wasn’t my dream job but I felt like it had some meaning to it.
Just as I was starting to adjust to my new career path, like in the past, life decided to come in and throw me another curve ball. In 2014 I was involved in a horrible car accident when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. From that point forward my life took a drastic turn for the worse that left me very low and venerable, both physically and mentally. I was no longer able to enjoy my pregnancy or the time spent with my family. I was so low and hurting on the inside and I couldn’t find a way to pull myself out. I was put on bed rest because the physical pain was just unbearable and I soon lost my job. I felt like I had failed, but deep down I knew there was a reason I was being put in this situation. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes I got back on my feet and in October of 2014 I picked back up my camera after almost a year’s break of shooting. I had lost a lot during the transition but I was given more than I could have asked for in return—I decided to use this time to re-charge and re-build myself. Photography has always been my way out when life was tough—it was my way of bringing joy to others when I couldn’t do the same for myself.
I wanted to be able to share my passion, my art, and talented with people who enjoyed my work. I was thankful and I work really hard to get this business up and going. I feel like I’d finally found my meaningful career. I cannot even begin to explain the high I get when clients tell me how much they LOVE their pictures, it warms my heart when I can capture these moments and share them with my clients. I’m providing precious moments that they can forever cherish—that in itself is the most amazing feeling on this earth and I am blessed to be able to do this for people. As much as I enjoyed being able to provide families with these special moments I slowly realized that this kind of photography was just not where my heart was, it was great but it wasn’t filling the void. At this point in my career as a photographer I had done boudoir for three years but it just wasn’t as consistent as my family photography was. Then it hit me, this is where I can make it count!
For me, boudoir is something more than just pictures of women in lingerie. It’s about giving women the confidence booster they deserve. Every single woman out there is beautiful and unique in her own way and I strive to capture each ladies special spark with my boudoir photography. My entire life all I’ve wanted was a career that had a meaning and a purpose, something that would allow me to make a difference. I never realized that my career and passion would be combined together and turn into something far more than I could have possibly ever wished for. Fast forward to this past month, I was elated to find that I had won the BEST Photographer in Culpeper. The tears of joy that ran down my face when I got the news that I had won where overwhelming and filled my heart to the brim with joy! In that moment I thought back to all of those late nights, staying up into the early hours of the morning working on pictures, all the missed dinner with my family, and the moments I had forgotten to enjoy life had finally paid off. I honestly cannot thank each and every one of you enough for voting for Black Lace Boudoir, it is an honor and a privilege that you guys should choose me for this! Today, I realized how lucky I am to be able to be a stay at home mom and finally do what I LOVE. It has not been easy, it has required a lot more work than I ever thought, but every day has been a learning experience that I can truly say has lead to this point. I may not have finished college or pursed a career in law enforcement, but I was able to do this on my own. I was able to pursue a career that gives back and makes a difference… and I’m fortunate to be able to do it while being the mother of two sweet baby girls!
I beat the odds that many said I would never be able to. I proved a lot of people wrong and I didn’t let being a young mother slow my roll. I overcame all the difficulties that life threw at me and in the end I have the success of my business and my beautiful family to show for it. If only you put your mind to it, you can accomplish your wildest dreams!
“Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
― Les Brown