Many people are curious on how photographers got started in their photography business journey. Maybe it started at a young age because their dad was a photographer. Maybe it started in high school because they took a photography class. Maybe they went to art school and fell in love with photography there.
That’s all great and wonderful, but none of those come remotely close to how my story started. My story is more random and totally unexpected.
Like some photographer’s stories it did indeed start in college, but not as you would expect.
So here I was...a sophomore in college majoring in Mathematics at Illinois State University and I suddenly received a letter that I was allowed to move out of the dorms and into an apartment. Usually that was only for upperclassmen, but the University was going to be closing many dorms for renovation the following school year and were looking for underclassmen volunteers to move off of campus.
...BUT I needed a job.
So I found an apartment close to campus and then applied to every single business that was hiring within a 10 mile radius of my soon-to-be apartment. I even applied at this local portrait studio, thinking I could do reception or something. I wasn’t ruling anything out. I was going to do whatever it took, plus I was very excited to be officially “on my own”.
WELL that portrait studio place called me for an interview! The meeting was SUPER casual, the manager just got to know me really. I didn't think much about it. It didn’t feel very promising since I had zero knowledge of photography, or reception for that matter.
You won’t believe this part...the studio called me back a few days later and offered me a job.
AS A PHOTOGRAPHER.
Ummmmm....I was not a photographer.
Not even close. I was a 20 year old Math major!
The manager told me that she'd train me. And that she did! All of the studio lighting was pretty fixed, so she basically taught me how to compose and shoot.
So folks, that is how my love for portrait photography started. From there it slowly grew. I ended up teaching middle school math for 4 years and put photography on the back burner for a few years. Then the desire began to grow inside of me.
To buying my own DSLR camera. To taking way too many photos of my nieces and nephews. To taking photos of my own children. To taking photos of my friends and their families. To taking photos of my first wedding client.
Growing, learning, practicing.
Then a pivotal moment came in the summer of 2018. I took a break from teaching night classes at the local college since my daughter was born in December 2017, and I was really struggling. I love to work. I needed to work! So one night my husband and I were having a conversation about whether or not I should go back to teaching, or grab some part time job, or what I should do! He asked me a question that I never even saw coming. He said "if you could do anything in the world, what would you do?". I didn't want to answer. I thought it would sound silly. Don't forget I have a degree in Mathematics...oh and a Masters Degree in Education.
But I said it.
I answered "if I could do anything in the world I would run my own wedding photography business".
And then he said, "then do it". Getting that kind of love and support was all I needed to launch Amanda Rai Photography LLC, and boy do I love love LOVE my job! (and my super cute supportive cheerleading husband)
I look back to the last...geez how long ago was that...2008... so 12 years, and I have come such a long way!
Life is crazy, beautiful, and unpredictable, isn’t it?