Maine Wedding and Portrait Photographer | How I Became a Professional Photographer

(Day 3/30 of the 30 day blog challenge. Read more about it here!)

The story of how I became a professional photographer begins with the Pentax K1000.

In my junior and senior year of high school I took photography classes.  At the time, digital photography was only just starting to become more prominent, so we used film and played around in a darkroom, putting our prints in various liquids and watching the image rise from the white paper.  We had aprons that we wore to protect our clothes from the chemicals, but no matter how careful I was I always managed to fleck my shirts with developer or fixer.  I learned how to use my camera manually (as there were no auto functions!) and discovered how to compose photos creatively.

Not only did we develop our own film and prints, but we learned how to mat our work.  Photography gave me a chance to feel artistic for the first time in my life, and I loved coming up with creative ideas and seeing them through, even if they were dismal failures.

The story continues with the girl in the photo above, all the way to the right– Sammy.  She was one of my best friends in high school and we were both taking photography together.  We’d spend our afternoons driving to random places and taking photos of what we loved.  I always looked for anything rusty, like tractors, and Sammy always wanted to shoot cows.  We spent most of the time acting like total dorks and giggling madly, like most 16-18 year olds do.

Several years later, Sammy contacted me and asked if I would do a bridal session with her.  She had recently started her own photography business, I had just gotten married and had an awesome wedding dress.  I was seriously excited and happily donned my dress again for her.

She took the following photos of me:

Photo by Samantha Hartery Photography

Photo by Samantha Hartery Photography

The experience and the resulting photos were unreal.  I couldn’t believe how I looked, and felt that she had somehow dug into the depths of my soul with her camera and shown me as I really am– unguarded and whole.  I felt beautiful, and I knew that I wanted–or rather, had–to give the same experience to others.

Even though I had never really done much portrait work before, I decided to leave the tractors behind and try photographing people.  It was nervewracking at first, but I was amazed how incredible it was to show others as they really are.  I was as in love with portraiture as I was when I first met my husband, and I knew that I had found my true calling in life.  The rest, as they say, is history.

How did you find your true calling in life?  Leave me a comment and tell me your story!

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