Sometimes I wonder why a person chooses a certain job. Do they love it? Is it a passion of theirs? Or does it simply pay the bills? Often times I get questions about my photography business and why I do it or what made me interested in photography. I decided that it is finally time, after two years of actually being in business, that I should publicly answer those questions for you.
I don’t recall the first time I picked up a camera, but I was a child for sure. I remember being in High School and babysitting my youngest cousins (two boys & two little girls). I would set up little backdrops using linens and I even used props and posed them. I don’t know where it came from; the only person in my family who was even a hobbyist photographer was my dad’s father, but I more remember him as a singer than a photographer. I was always taking pictures-even of my grandmother’s dog. It just seemed to be in my blood. In fact, I know that I still have a few rolls of undeveloped film somewhere in my storage from back in the day. I should send them out just for giggles.
In 9th grade (a long, long, long time ago) I took my first photography class. This was the coolest class I ever took throughout my formative years. We used their manual 35 mm film cameras and had weekly projects such as taking photos of cars in motion vs stopping motion of a passing car. Not only did we take photos, we actually developed these photos ourselves. It started with going into a pitch black closet-sized room and opening the film canister (which was amazingly difficult to do) and placing it into another canister that would be placed in the developing solution. Once the negatives were set, we used them to make the prints and then also developed those using chemicals. I remember feeling like I was capturing and creating something that could last forever! I still have my self portrait from that class-over 25 years later! That experience inspired a dream of mine to one day have my own home studio & dark room.
Ever since my High School days, I have had a camera in my hand. I remember getting my first SLR camera in my twenties- It was a Canon Rebel. At the time it probably cost $150 or so for the basic model. Maybe $200 max. But that was a lot of money for a single girl living paycheck to paycheck. I was still a film girl, and never edited any photos or anything. But I loved the versatility and control I had with this camera. Whenever there was a family gathering or a party, I was taking pictures. Some found it annoying at times, but were always thankful after the fact that I had captured the memories.
I was always one who wouldn’t fall into fads or buy something just because it was new. I turned my text feature off for years on my phone. I didn’t get a smart phone until my 30’s. And I refused to give in to the digital age by changing over to a digital camera. That was until Mammoth! I was heading up to Mammoth with a group of singles from church for a skiing trip. I realized that it is virtually impossible to carry a big SLR camera on the slopes without potentially damaging it or myself. So, I purchased my very first digital point & shoot camera that fit right in my pocket. I don’t recall using it much while on the slopes as I was scared to death of falling, but I did capture some great memories while snow shoeing.
Not long after that I purchased my first DSLR (Another Canon Rebel) and I was in love with it! Something about film was that you didn’t really know what you captured until you printed it out. One time I was highly disappointed that a girl never captured a photo of us with our friend Tracy Byrd on a super fun night in Florida just because she didn’t push the button down hard enough. If I had a digital camera at that time I would’ve known right away and had someone else take it-haha! Yes, I admit, I cried at Target when I picked up the prints only to find that my favorite photo wasn’t even in there. Yes, I’m a giant dork!
I have had a passion for capturing images of sunsets and would always try to be in a good spot whenever sunset hit-especially if we were at the beach. Not long into my marriage, maybe 5 years ago, I remember getting into an argument with my husband because he was so annoyed at how I always had to take pictures-no matter what. He asked me why I couldn’t just be in the moment and enjoy it without a camera. I cried & shared with him how memories fail, and how I was afraid that if I didn’t capture all of these memories in a more permanent way, that I would one day lose them. He understood, but I agreed to try to take less photos and spend more time just appreciating those moments. Now we have such great little cameras on our phones that even when I don’t have my actual camera with me, I can still capture the memories. HAHA- I got around that one easily! Now that I own a photography business, he never complains about how many photos I take. 🙂
There was a transition in my life about 4.5 years ago when I decided that I needed to leave my position at United Way. I loved the work that we did, but someone high up in our tiny office really made the work environment stressful (actually for all of us-my boss & coworkers left shortly after I did). After taking a vacation and then crying on my first day back to work, we both decided that it was best for me to leave my job, take off some time to fix up the home we just bought, and then go back into the workforce. Luckily my husband made enough money to support us for a while.
During the next year I fell into a severe depression which stemmed from losing my grandmother in 2010. I hadn’t realized that I was depressed until I was no longer busy. That year I sat on the couch in my pajamas watching TV most of the time. My husband, God bless his soul, never judged me or was upset when he would come home to a messy house and no dinner after a long day at work. He would simply love on me and support me and never made me go out if I didn’t feel like I could. I had also gained quite a bit of weight that year which only made my depression worse. We hosted a family gathering at Christmas that year and my mom said she was so worried about me because I looked pale & almost sickly. However, I was watching the show The Biggest Loser at the time and something had inspired me to make a change in my life. The following January (2013) I started just by cutting back on my food intake and walking on a treadmill. I could only walk for 5 minutes at first, but that increased over time.That next June we were heading to Hawaii for a wedding and my goal was to lose 50 lbs by then. I fell 5 lbs short, but was proud of my accomplishment. I had been up & down a bit after that but My Fitness Pal just notified me the other day that I’m actually 95 lbs down from those horribly depressing days-and I’m still going strong!
I had also become motivated & started looking in to returning to school to finish my BA degree that I had put off. I only had 3 more classes to finish and then I was done! It was tough going back to school at such a late age (your memory isn’t as strong), especially when I had to take two language classes! During my first Spanish class I started thinking about what I was going to do for work. I discussed event planning and photography with a couple of friends.I even went to a local photographer for my friend’s daughter’s photos to see her set up. I almost gave up on the idea of starting a photography business (thinking I it wasn’t possible for me to start a business) but that passion within me ignited once again as I started taking on a few friends as clients. My first few sessions were free or extremely inexpensive. When I realized that I was pretty darn good at it, and how much work it was to edit and deliver each session, I set an introductory price. I officially received my BA from Cal Baptist in December, 2013 but that following year was filled with a lot of photography education. I did training and workshops & learned so much about lighting, editing, posing, and the list goes on & on. There’s always more to learn so I continue to take workshops when they’re available.
Cristy’s Candids became an official business in 2014, but it has definitely evolved since then. This past year I have revamped my business model and now offer more of an experience than just a photography session. I also introduced prints and products last year because I believe in displaying your memories for years to come instead of just hiding them in a drawer or on social media. My work is very important to me, but my clients are the reason why I do what I do. I love capturing the first moments in a child’s life knowing that these will be preserved forever. I love when my clients come back to me every year and I get to watch their children grow. I feel so privileged to be a part of a couple’s special day when I capture those two words “I do”. Some days I still can’t believe that I am so blessed to be living my dream that was created over 25 years ago! This business is still in the early stages, but I love where it’s heading. I’m so thankful for this journey and excited for the road ahead of me where there is more growing, more smiles, and definitely more memories to be captured!