I graduated from high school in 2002 and dove straight into college life at LSU. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do, but I had narrowed it down to a few different majors.
Theater, English, or Nursing. All on opposite ends of the spectrum.
I wanted to be a famous actress.
I wanted to be a famous writer.
I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse.
Big dreams, right? But only one of those that was conducive and practical in helping me achieve my biggest dream – becoming a mother.
I had baby fever. Bad. (And now with five kids, I’m starting to think it’s a chronic condition!)
I graduated from nursing school in May of 2007, got married in June, and a year later had our first baby girl in August of 2008.
Choosing to go to nursing school was not a difficult decision for me. I loved taking care of people, I loved biology, and I loved the flexibility that a nursing career would offer. My career in nursing has served me well, allowing me to work full time, part time, as needed or to take a break to stay at home with my babies. The work is not easy and I am always exhausted, but it is rewarding beyond measure, and the financial benefit helps tremendously.
But that old itch, that creative itch to perform or write? It never went away.
A few months before my second baby girl was born in January of 2010, I picked up my camera and started taking pictures from a different perspective. I used a free online editing program and played around with colors, lighting, contrast, adding a vignette, cropping – you name it. I edited my first picture, and through the eyes of an amateur beginner, I thought it was beautiful. And I was instantly hooked.
I took a million more pictures, eased up on the editing and tweaked my “look” a bit. I posted them to my facebook page, just to show what I was up to. Within a few days, I had a few friends message me, asking if I would be willing to take pictures of their little ones, and what would I charge for a session?
People are willing to pay me to do this? I just looked at it as a hobby. I had no idea anyone else on the planet would value that hobby enough to pay me for it.
Then I was given some advice from a friend with an incredibly successful wedding photography business:
You have to value your own work and talent. Don’t just give it away. Then, more and more people will also see the value in your work.
So I went out and bought a big girl DSLR. And I read that manual front to back. I YouTubed, I studied, and I practiced. I bought a new lens and learned how to use that too. My work gradually improved and has evolved into something that I am now very proud of.
Shortly after I began doing photo shoots, I started up a little blog to show my favorite photos from each session. I would give a short background and then include a few choice pictures. There, my love for creative writing bloomed and became something like an online journal that I kept up with through my family’s five cross country moves. Before I knew it, I was fulfilling dreams from years earlier in ways I never imagined possible: my love for film, writing, and entertaining people combined in such perfect collision that suddenly, I was a writer, a photographer, and a nurse all in the same phase in life.
Over the years, I have kept my little baby photography business on the side. I only take on as much work as I can handle. My schedule is flexible, I set my own prices, and I am able to be personal and take my time on my work (which as with any photographer, has come a long way in the last 9 years). I feel empowered, I feel valued, and I am also setting an example for my children. When it comes to my photography, I am my own boss. And I love it.
I also still work as a Labor and Delivery nurse. And I love that, too.
We all have talents, some we aren’t even aware of until the opportunity presents itself.
I have seen my honest, hard working, incredibly talented friends take on a small hobby and nurture it and baby and love it, and years later, they have blossomed into flourishing, booming, successful, legitimate businesses.
Others, like myself, have opted to keep their advertising to a minimum and their businesses small.
And y’all, I am so proud of every one of them.
That’s the beauty of it. It’s yours to do as much or as little as you want. It becomes a win/win. You get your creative outlet, and the rest of us benefit from your work.
From gorgeous handmade children’s clothes, to screen printed witty t-shirts and team uniforms, precious New Orleans themed home items, to intricately created cakes and cookies, handmade jewelry, to handmade pottery and ceramics. Time and time again, I have seen friends tap into their creativity, harness their talents, and combined with impeccable character and work ethic have given birth to a new kind of baby.