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Overwhelming Gratitude

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I remember one day when I still lived in Houston, TX (I was four, if that), I was coloring in a coloring book, with my legs sprawled out like a ‘W.’  My mom was sitting across from me and she asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I replied in my high pitched, matter-of-fact voice “An artist.”  Well, maybe I said “A artist” because I’m not sure if I knew when to use “an” or “a” in that moment, but that’s something completely off the path I’m trying to walk on.

From then, my “dream job” has changed probably 20 times.  I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist, but then I realized I was pretty terrible at science.  I wanted to be a writer, but then I realized that most writers revise their work and I tend to NOT do that.  I’ve wanted to be a prom-dress designer, a professional surfer (I live in landlocked Oklahoma–not sure how I ever got to that phase), an interior designer, a youth pastor, a teacher, a photojournalist, a food writer, and a coffee shop/boutique owner.

In all those future jobs, art has been in there somewhere, but I NEVER thought I could just be an artist.

Two years ago, I was going through my 3rd year of college.  I was working a job at a restaurant to pay the few bills I had (thank you, parents/grandparents for your financial help), and was dreaming about starting a photography business.
I’ve been shooting photos for fun for 10 years now.  That’s almost half my life.  My grandmother gave me a digital camera for my 12th birthday, and I swear I never put that thing down.

During the myspace days, I’d spend HOURS taking pictures of whatever I could (myself, mostly…HEY SELFIES), and would post them to flickr or my myspace page in some photography album.  I thought I was hot stuff and could take some really great photos (and maybe they were great to someone, but looking back, I was pretty bad).

It wasn’t until two years ago that I realized I wanted to do photography as my job.  Nothing fulfills me like taking photos does, aside from traveling.
There was an issue, though.  Two years ago, I would maybe have 6 shoots a year.  I wasn’t putting myself out there, I relied on word of mouth for people to book me, and I wasn’t growing.

About May or June of last year, things just sort of “clicked.”  I decided I wanted to get better, to grow, to study, to push myself so my dream of running my own photography business could happen.  I studied techniques, editing styles, other photographer’s work, how to run a business, etc for hours every day.  Things started to pick up, but I still couldn’t manage to pay all my bills without another part time job.

Last October or November, 3 months after I graduated college, I took a giant leap of faith and decided to switch to photography full time.  I quit my job of managing a restaurant and went for it.  It was still a huge risk, because I still wasn’t booking as much as I’d like, but I thought “if I’m supposed to be doing this, then why not now?”

About a month into the transition, I developed a schedule and a plan, and worked pretty hard to make my dream as a four year old come true.  I was going to be an artist.  I was going to do a job that I loved, but that I never thought was possible.

Today, I was flooded with gratitude (definitely not for the first time).  I signed 3 of 4 wedding contracts this week, just a few minutes ago.  I received 3 wedding inquiries today.  I used to maybe get 1 every 3 months.

That stuff didn’t happen a few months ago, much less when my dreams of running a photography business started.

I hope that this blog doesn’t come off as braggy or conceited.  I couldn’t be here without you all.

I have people I’ve only met once or have never met recommending me to their friends.  I have people I’ve never met trusting me to take their photos.  I have the opportunity to work with some of the best vendors in Oklahoma on a regular basis.  I’ve been compared WITH (not to) some of the photographers I used to look up to so much (and still d0).

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of my clients who are now my friends.  Your trust, kindness, positivity, and kind words mean so much to me.  I would not be anywhere near where I am without you.  Getting to photograph you and the love you share with others makes me come alive in the most amazing way.  Thank you for letting me get to know you all, have coffee with you all, and capture some of the greatest days and moments of your lives.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my family and friends.  My parents have supported me (though sometimes with a side of anxiety) from day one.  They’ve offered advice, encouragement, some finances to help purchase equipment, and love from the very beginning.  To Ethan: thank you for taking leap of faith after leap of faith with me.  Your support and love is so wonderful.  To my friends who have believed in me since the very beginning and offer words of support day in and day out, thank you.

To everyone who I’ve not photographed, but who has recommended me to someone, thank you.  It’s the coolest feeling to get an email saying “So and so recommended you to me.”  Sometimes I’ve never met those who recommend me, and knowing that I have people supporting me from afar is so exciting.

Guys, I am 100% in love with my job.  It’s not even a “job” most days.  It is an exciting, brilliant adventure that I get to partake on until I feel like stopping (which will likely be never).  I feel overwhelming joy and gratitude to be able to do what I love to do.  I can’t tell anyone enough how much I LOVE being a photographer.

I still have a long way to go.  I am still learning (and part of me always hopes I continue).  I am still growing.  I am still searching for inspiration some days.  But as long as I keep enjoying this, it will always be a huge part of me.

A huge thank you to the Big Guy Upstairs (God, I’m looking at You!) for giving me this passion and ability.  I don’t thank God nearly enough for everything He’s given me.  I create because He created me to.  That is awesome.

I realize that this was a huge spiel.  I just needed to say “thank you” to everyone.  I love you guys.  I love my job.  I love photographing love.  AHHHHH!  Everything is amazing.

With much love and overwhelming gratitude,
Rachel

P.S. I launched my portfolio that I’d love for you see!  Click here to view. :)