A Full Year Of Being A Full Time Self-Employed Photographer

One year and five days ago, I stepped onto a plane in Brisbane, Australia to return home to Lake Tahoe, California.

 

I had moved to Australia with the plans of opening a studio with one of my best friends, and as life changes fast (as I’m sure we can all relate to), that didn’t happen. After her decision to not go into business with me, I chose to continue the path that I was on- opening Someplace Images. I sort of count my “one year” mark as the day that I bought that domain name, but for the six months after that I only did TWO photo sessions. I almost never took my camera with me anywhere, even though I was traveling through Australia.

Those six months between website creation and landing back in the United States were HARD. I did odd jobs (planting roses, packing cherry tomatoes) but I also followed a lot of dreams. I learned how to dive on the Great Barrier Reef, I lived in hostels and met more amazing people than I can even count during my travels, and when I was “home” in Brisbane I was incredibly blessed with the warmth of my Australian family, the Hamlyn’s. The kindness, hospitality and full on family feel that they gave me is second to none, and I miss sitting on the big red couch doing my computer work (aka getting Someplace Images functional, emailing brides, learning Facebook Marketing) or reading, bickering over things at the dinner table and watching TV and drinking tea every night. My business would 100% not be where it is without their constant support of me during those months- giving me a place to live in the interim, giving me the opportunity to get a car, feeding me and teasing me relentlessly with love.

 

June 15, 2016 I woke up in an extremely familiar place- my best friend’s apartment being absolutely smothered by her children (my munchkins, my god-kids) because they were so happy Aunty Carly was home. Moving back to Lake Tahoe and Reno felt like such a failure to me, though I knew it was where my business needed to be to be successful. My homecoming was certainly a joyous occasion to the munchkins, my friends and my family, but I felt incredibly defeated. I had spent a YEAR preparing for my move to Australia, and to have only been there for eight months felt like utter failure. Living in a small town didn’t help the situation- every single person I saw (and it still happens, a year later) asked me why I was home, why didn’t Australia work out? And I had to answer honestly about life changing, losing my business partner and deciding to move forward. In those grueling six months of standstill in Australia, I had managed to book five weddings in addition to the three weddings for friends I was already planning on, so I hit the ground running. I was in Tahoe for three short weeks, shooting Jeanna & Branden’s wedding on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe before hopping on a place and flying to Riga, Latvia to shoot Veronika and Jonas’ wedding in Sigulda, Latvia. I couldn’t JUST fly to Europe for a few days, so I made a month trip out of it, spending July and the the first few days of August in Latvia, England, Scotland and Ireland before landing back in the United States once more. In August, I shot my first wedding for people who had never met me prior to deciding to hire me, Susie and Matt, at their stunning Leal Vineyards wedding in Hollister, California. I jumped in my car and drove to Los Angeles the next day to shoot an engagement session at the Los Angeles Arboretum for Diana and Edwin, a couple who was getting married in December. The 8 hour drive back to Lake Tahoe with no AC gave me plenty of time to think, and the thought was that maybe this was possible and I wasn’t just dreaming.

September brought three weddings: Shane and Denae, for whom I was a bridesmaid as well, in Alpine Meadows, California. Next was Allyse and Nate at the gorgeous West Shore Cafe, in Homewood, California and immediately after their wedding I drove two hours to Sacramento International and hopped on a plane to Raleigh, North Carolina, to snag a rental car…. To drive to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina for Cassie and Leland’s backyard beach wedding. Four days in the Carolina’s sunshine gave me an aching feeling of missing living in the South, but when I landed back in California, I was on my way to San Francisco to shoot a private event for United Airlines. From their it was three weeks in Southern California, including an engagement session for Heather and Maks in Santa Barbara, CA.

By the time October hit, I was drowning in images and riding the wave of inspiration. My go-go-go lifestyle landed me in Urgent Care with a massive bronchial infection that had limited my breathing for almost a full 10 hours prior, and I was glad to have just a little bit of time off before the next wedding.

November brought an amazing life and business changing conference at United in Phoenix, just to return straight to Mindy and Sara’s stunning and glamorous wedding at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada- full of gold glitter, donuts and an amazing moonrise that fueled my photographic soul. Before I knew it, Diana and Edwin’s Woodland Hills Country Club wedding in Los Angeles snuck up on me (the week before Christmas) and then HOLY COW IT WAS 2018.

How did that time pass like crazy?! I was marking it all as “one year” then, but it was truly only six months, and despite the real odds, I was actually making it.

January brought me my first clients from Instagram, Alexandria and Jaymeson, who eloped for their five year wedding anniversary in South Lake Tahoe.

February brought me winter weddings, one with big, beautiful snowflakes and the perfect winter wonderland for Brianna & Eric’s Granlibakken wedding and one at Vizcaya in Sacramento, the perfect setting for Angela and Steve’s brightly colored wedding.

March found me under cloudy skies in Berkeley, California for Katie and Clayton’s wedding in the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park. The rain didn’t stop a single festivity and I spent the entire evening listening to the rain pour on the roof while everyone danced the night away inside.

April and May held boudoir sessions, a “quick” three week trip to Europe with my mom, visiting Turkey, Slovenia, Greece and the purpose of the trip; Italy, to attend Flytographer’s Global Meet Up (check it out here). Getting back to work the day after we landed back in the United States drew out the full time hustle, since landing May 10th I’ve shot six engagement sessions (in Reno, Lake Tahoe, Burney Falls and Grover Hot Springs) two maternity sessions, one boudoir session and two events…. Oh and three weddings- Brittany and Chris’ wedding in Tulare, California, Julia and Fernando’s wedding at Glacier Point in Yosemite, California and last but not least, Dani and Sean’s hometown wedding in Kings Beach, California.

So there it is. A full year of full time. I’m marveling at it every single day and how I’ve managed. It feels like it’s been non stop, and part of me still feels like it was such a failure to move “home” when I know that my heart wants to be traveling. I struggle with it every day and try and figure out what the next step is, where the next place is… and what one year from now will look like.

 

Brittany & Chris, Evergreen Island, Tulare, California
Alexandria & Jaymeson, Sand Harbor State Park, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Brianna & Eric, Granlibakken, Lake Tahoe, California
Cassie & Leland, Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina
Diana & Edwin, Woodland Hills Country Club, Los Angeles, California
Julia & Fernando, Glacier Point, Yosemite, California
Mindy & Sara, Virginia City, Nevada
Angela & Steve, Vizcaya, Sacramento, California
Katie and Clayton, Tilden Park, Berkeley, California
Allyse & Nate, West Shore Cafe, Lake Tahoe, California
Susie & Matt, Leal Vineyards, Hollister, California
Denae & Shane, Alpine Meadows, California
Veronika & Jonas, Sigulda, Latvia
Jeanna & Branden, Tahoe Vista, California

Let’s Talk About Following Your Dreams.

I won’t claim that anyone ever said it was easy. 

 

But I didn’t expect the negativity from the outside when I’m actually doing it. Actually following my dreams, working on weddings, photographing beautiful couples and families and there is so much animosity towards me because “it’s not ‘real’ work” and other people have “real jobs”.

 

It’s not easy. It’s incredibly hard, actually. It’s months of famine and weeks of riches that all disappear straight back into business, education and gas for my car. It’s late nights, early mornings and backbreaking wedding days carrying twenty pounds of gear around with a smile on my face.

But there’s just one thing that makes it all worth it. I love it. More than anything in the world, I love it. I love the emotions on a wedding day, the excitement of engagement shoots. I love traveling California and beyond because people have chosen ME to share in their moments. I love the moment before a kiss, the hint of a smile after that comes with a small sigh that no one else sees.  I love the way the sunlight gleams off of Lake Tahoe in the early evening and how those same sunbeams cut across the tops of mountains, creating stunning walls of light up against thousands of pines. I love working with my toes in the sand, not wearing shoes and belly laughing when the Atlantic Ocean decides to end up all over what I’m wearing because I was paying more attention to the cotton candy sunset in West Palm Beach than I was where I was walking.

So let’s talk about following your dreams. It’s so hard. People hate. People talk. People judge. Do it anyways. Learn to save. Learn to accept help from those that offer. Learn to dance at every single wedding. Learn to love bad lighting and bad times of the day. Learn to love imperfection and nothing EVER being on time. Learn to love your yoga pants and full days of editing with dishes piling up beside you and cold coffee. Learn to juggle two (or three jobs) until you’re so busy you can’t breathe, and then remember to breathe. Following your dreams is hard work, harder than anyone ever let on. It takes patience and perseverance, but more than anything you have to LOVE what you do.

 

So today, I encourage you to keep dreaming, but to also start doing.

 

Channing & Ricky in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Andie & Luis for their five year anniversary photo shoot in Lake Tahoe, California.

Well, Hello!

Woo woo! Can we bust out the champagne glass emojis? I am so excited to be launching a new website during one of my favorite weeks of the year- My birthday week! Other things I’m doing for business this week? Choosing winners for my Engagement Session Giveaway, and a sa-weeet surprise that y’all will get to hear about on Friday… because I love to give pictures and pictures make me happy!

Just a super awesome shout out to all of the amazing people who reviewed my site over and over again, clicked every button for me and gave me wonderful feedback for this site. It’s been a work in progress for a couple months and I wanted to be able to offer the best experience for anyone who happens to stumble upon my lil ‘ol website.

 

Stay tuned for some new blog content coming up soon- ideas are being cooked up and mulled over for your visual pleasure!

 

Lots of love and of course….

 

Cheers!

 

Carly

 

Oh, PS. Also super cool and exciting things, I had two photos voted into the top 100 photos of two different categories in the Shoot and Share Photo Contest… as well as a few other in top spots! You can check them out here: Shoot & Share