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  • Writer's pictureTara Hollow

How I Became a Wedding Photographer

Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. Just kidding! Haha, but seriously this is kind of a long story about how I got into wedding photography. Keep in mind that we all start somewhere…

Rewind back to early 2017. I expressed interest to a UF co-worker, Christine, that was an up and coming photographer here in Gainesville, FL, that I wanted to learn how to use my camera. She owns CWP Photography and I highly recommend you check out her work. She really stepped up and became a mentor to me teaching me everything she knew. I always dreamed of being a wedding photographer, so I volunteered to assist her at a wedding that spring just to learn and see if this was something I truly wanted to pursue. Not long after volunteering and doing a little Pinterest and YouTube research, I realized that I needed to upgrade my equipment if I was going to be taken seriously. I'm going to be honest, at this point in time I was just another Mom with an entry level camera shooting in auto mode. For this wedding, I borrowed a full frame camera and a few lenses from another co-worker, Ben. I was so excited! I showed up to my very first wedding with this nice camera almost forgetting that I clueless as how to use it. I had no idea what aperture, ISO and shutter speed meant, let alone how to use the three together or change them in the camera. No joke, I was hiding behind a building discretely watching YouTube videos trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. While I knew this wasn’t a paid gig, I didn’t want to seem unprofessional to the clients, I wanted to be able to hand over images the bride and groom cherished and I really wanted to impress Christine. I played with settings until I got the results in camera that I wanted, to be blunt, I basically winged photographing this entire wedding.

By the end of the night I felt like I had just survived the longest day in my life! I was mentally drained and physically exhausted. I was completely unsure if I’d taken any worthy images and I just wanted to go home, take a shower, hydrate and sleep. Once I got home though, I had this high going that I just photographed my first wedding and I ran to my office to upload the images eager to see what I’d captured. To my surprise I actually had some pretty decent images to share. The next morning I felt like I’d been run over by a Mack truck, my whole body ached. I’m assuming I was dehydrated and very out of shape. Even though I physically felt awful I realized I had caught the wedding photography bug. I replayed everything in my head, I loved being surrounded by happy people, I loved the thought of capturing a moment in a couple’s history, I was flat out hooked! For the last three years I've photographed countless weddings with Christine and several other local photographers and have taken on some of my own weddings in the last year and a half. It's difficult to put into words how incredible it feels to make a dream become reality. Oh and if you're wondering, I now know how to use my camera. I've dedicated hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars into online education. Never again will I show up to a session unprepared.

Sonja, if you’re reading this, first of all, it was your wedding I was at pretending to be a wedding photographer at. So sorry, but grateful for the opportunity! Secondly, happy belated 3rd wedding anniversary. I hope you and JJ found a way to celebrate a couple of weeks ago. Please know your wedding day will always hold special meaning to me. It was the day you married the man of your dreams and it was the day I finally got to live out my dream to be a wedding photographer.

Christine, if you’re reading this, thank you for taking me under your wing, having patience to teach me, for sharing what you worked hard for to help me get where I am today. Without your kindness, friendship and willingness to always make time for me, I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it this far. You’re such a wonderful and selfless person and I’m blessed to be able to call you my friend.

For those of you that have made it this far into my story, I hope you enjoy my favorites I captured at my first wedding second shooting for CWP Photography at Southern Pines Venue in Lake City, FL.

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