This is my 100th blog post!!!! Woooohoooo.
For this post, I wanted to do something special. So I figured I would tell you all a story. One that everyone asks me to tell and I have been meaning to tell on my blog for quite some time. This is the story of how I got started with my business. This story is as real as it gets. I want to get into detail about how I went from taking pictures of my friends in my bathtub….to becoming a full time wedding photographer. And no, I won’t leave out the embarrassing parts ;) So here it goes!
I graduated from Sultana High School in 2008. I was 17 years old and had NO clue what I wanted to do with my life. Or maybe I did…depends on which day we are talking about….because I tossed around every idea from dental hygenist, to lawyer, to teacher….but NEVER photographer! It’s not that I didn’t love it. I had already realized that I saw things differently than most people and had developed an interest in documenting things with my parents point-and-shoot camera. It’s just that becoming a photographer seemed about as realistic to me as becoming the next Madonna. Off to community college it was!
But I did ask my parents for a “nice camera” for my graduation gift. They got me a Nikon Coolpix that rarely left me hands. Here I am, in the summer of 2008 with my new baby!
I used the point and shoot to document anything and everything. I became the official vacation photographer for my family. And I didn’t mind the job one bit. In fact I loved it! Photographing everything I laid my eyes on was what I loved to do!
At my community college, where I was studying general education, I also took up a beginning photography class. This involved shooting in black and white film and LOTS of rules. I totally despised it, but I pushed through and it ended up teaching me alot of the technical settings and things that I needed to know!
Here are some of the random things I was photographing with my beloved point-and-shoot during this time.
Eventually, I tired of photographing only inanimate objects and insects….so I moved onto people! Of course, my main targets were my best friends! Bless their hearts for putting up with all of my craziness. Making them lean against ant-infested trees, because that was the “perfect spot”….or chasing them around my bathroom at 2am with a desk lamp (which was my LEGIT light source). Seriously, somehow my “photoshoots” always wound up in the bathtub. My newbie self must’ve been real fond of that fluorescent light. But we always had a blast! Throw in some crazy outfits and wild makeup for a “high fashion” look, and we were entertained till sunrise! What would I have done without these girls?!
A few photoshoots later….Kristen Booth Photography was born. Choosing my business name wasn’t a big, tough decision. I was just uploading all of my photos to photobucket, so that I could type a watermark onto them (Because that will make them professional, duh!!!!) and it was the first thing I thought of. Little did I know that in that exact moment….my teenage self, branded that name to myself FOR LIFE. All those years or disliking my last name and one silly photobucket “logo” turned it into something I can’t marry out of. Okay okay, it’s grown on me and I kind of like it now ;)
Thanks to my good friend Myspace and the ability to share my photos….I quickly became the “Myspace Photographer”. All of my friends wanted to come to my bathtub and have their default picture taken by me, for free!!! I was practically famous!!!! :D
But all the while that I was in demand for the Myspace crowd…I had another job on the side….a very “foxy” one….
Yepp! I worked for my local radio station and I LOVED it! It was the coolest job ever! (besides the one I have now, of course). I wasn’t always dressed as Ozzy the Fox. There were other events, where I was in human form. The local bridal show happened to be one of them. On my lunch break, I got the nerve to go around and talk to the photographers at their booths. Being a college student wanting to know about the industry, rather than a potential bride…..not everyone was friendly to me. But fortunately, The Mariano’s were BEYOND nice! They answered all of my questions and even told be about their old camera they were selling. They were my heroes and I went home thinking, for the first time, “I want to be a wedding photographer”.
Shortly after, I purchased their Canon 30D and kit lens from them, and I was on my way! They still remained a vital part in my first year though, many times being the only source I could turn to when I had a question. They probably don’t know how much they helped me, but I will never forget their kindness!
I couldn’t WAIT to shoot with my new, “real” camera. So that week, I headed out with my friend Stephanie (always a willing model!). Here are some of the photos from my first shoot with a DSLR!
Around this time, my first “brand” was born. I knew that if I wanted to be a photographer, I would need to have a logo, business cards, a website….all that stuff that makes you legit! I had no clue what branding was….so choosing my colors went kinda like this:
“Hmmmmm what looks professional? How about….brown…yeah! And….teal!”
So brown and teal it was. And I’ll even admit that my first business card said “Affordable, Professional, Exceptional”. You have my full permission to laugh ;)
Next, Mr. Edmund Prieto came into the story. A friend of mine from high school was getting married and said I could take some pictures at her wedding. This MADE MY YEAR. All I kept thinking was “Here I am on my way to becoming a wedding photographer!!!”. She did already have a hired photographer though, which was Edmund. And let’s just put it this way….Photographers, you know those guests at weddings that run around with their DSLR’s and sometimes get in your way? THAT was me….but probably much worse. Edmund, the great guy that he is, was super nice to me! He even invited me to second shoot a wedding with him a few months later and continued to help me, down the road. A big help in the beginning and still a good friend today, this story wouldn’t be complete without Edmund! Below, is a photo I snapped of him at a photographer get together awhile back!
Soon after, was my first couple’s shoot. And of course….it was my best friend and her boyfriend (now husband!) Robert. I knew from very early on, that couples would become my subject of choice.
Then comes that BIG moment in every wedding photographer’s career, booking your first wedding!!!!! And let me tell you, locking in my first wedding booking was the best thing since the Christmas when I got one of those Barbie cars that you can drive. I don’t think I slept at all the week before, I was SO nervous and excited. The day came, and I was so blessed to have the lovely Lea Reed at my side to help me out. And even though shooting my first wedding was the most stressful, draining, and exhausting experience of my life….I was hooked! Below are some of the photos from it.
I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I just didn’t know HOW. I was 19, still at the community college not sure what I was going to be, and working two part-time jobs, and I had NO clue what the next step was.
Then comes Sarah Barlow. I heard about her workshop program in Nashville and knew it was exactly what I needed! I applied immediately.
The day I got an email saying that I was accepted, I about jumped through the roof! I knew this was going to be HUGE.
I headed off to Nashville in April of 2010 for a lifechanging 5 days.
This trip was the first time I heard of this thing called “a brand”. I put together everything I loved at the time, and came up with this brand board. It is only a small piece of what my brand has become today, but it was still lightyears ahead of the brown and teal!!! ;) We also covered tons of other vital stuff like pricing, marketing, products, editing…everything that I so desperately needed to learn!
On my plane ride home from the internship, I knew things had changed. I had seen the potential in myself and knew I couldn’t happily settle back into my life of college courses and minimum wage jobs.
It only took me a week to tell my parents that I was going to drop out of college to pursue my business and they were surprisingly….supportive! They saw how happy photography was making me. It was the first career that clicked and I felt like I belonged to. That support meant everything at the time, because even I didn’t know what the next step was, I just knew that I needed to take the leap!
In the following weeks, I got to work on my first Showit website and purchased a Canon 5D Mark II. I slowly but surely began booking weddings and shoots and learning more everyday…and the rest is history!
Of course there’s more to the story….trials and errors….successes…failures…. it’s a story that’s still being written to this day! And as long as the story goes on, I never want to forget the beginning. How hard it was, what a fight it was, what it took to truly find myself. We all come from somewhere and where I came from is what I never want to forget!
If you want to see more of my old work and learn more about my early years, you can check out my old blog, which starts at my first wedding.