How I Got Started as a Philadelphia Wedding Photographer

Once upon a time, my biggest dream was to be a VCU Ram living it up in Richmond, Virginia. And that dream actually came true. I still remember crying tears of joy and shaking with excitement for hours when I received my acceptance letter. You know how I believe in taking big risks? Well, I did exactly that. I enrolled in a university and moved away from home without knowing whether I would get into the art program I was applying to later in the semester, but knowing full well that art was the only thing I wanted to do there. I had no back-up plan, but I took a leap of faith and simply believed I would succeed. My first semester at VCU was a beautiful, amazing dream come true. I absolutely adored the city, my school, my church, and all the amazing friends I made.

Time flies when you’re having fun! The semester came and went, I sent off my application to VCUarts, and then I checked the mail daily for the big exciting news I had waited so long for.

Only it didn’t turn out exactly how I imagined it would.

I fell to my knees sobbing when I received the letter that I unfortunately was not accepted into VCU’s art program. I felt like I was being told to my face that I wasn’t good enough at the one thing I loved, and I was devastated by the rejection. I knew that my heart was completely in the arts. My passion was in photography and design – the only things I felt that I was decent at and actually truly enjoyed. I knew I had to do whatever it would take to chase after that passion. But I didn’t realize it would mean losing everything I thought I wanted and questioning my every move.

But I picked myself up and decided to give entrepreneurship a shot. Because if my dream school wouldn’t have me, I was determined to make it on my own. It certainly wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of late nights and hard work. Slowly but surely, I gained a following and clientele. And now, I’m happier than ever because I get to spend each day doing what I LOVE: serving you through my passion for photography.

Believe it or not, though, my passion for photography began in 2010. While I had been artistic my entire childhood, there was actually an exact moment that it really hit me. I was exploring Stratford Hall in northern Virginia with my family and my mom’s compact point-and-shoot camera. I happened to see a butterfly resting upon some flowers, and I snapped this photo:

I thought it was an AMAZING image. Looking back now, I laugh to myself because my craft has improved so much with time. But back then, it was just about the greatest photo anyone had ever taken and deserved to be plastered on the billboards. I decided to save up for my own point-and-shoot camera, and from then on, I never set my camera down. I did a lot of nature photography during any free time I had after school, and eventually, I started to take pictures of my friends, too. I took these two images in 2011 and thought they were pretty dang awesome:

Years later, I took photography and graphic design classes in high school. I had the best teachers ever (shoutout to Pullum & Solliday!) who fueled my uniqueness and creativity. I never really knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up,” but during this time, I realized that I wanted art to become my career. My family urged me towards the graphic design path because, according to them, it was more stable, I could work under a large company, and that was where all the real money was at… not in my cute little photography hobby. But during my junior year of high school, I was assigned to interview someone in the career field I was interested in, do some research, and complete an essay based on my findings. I couldn’t decide between graphic design and photography, so I chose both for this project and voluntarily completed double the work.

It was such an eye-opening experience as it showed me that my heart was 100% in photography. I noted in my findings, “More than anything, I just want to make people happy. People love to have photographs that capture all the emotions and moments of a time in their lives, and that is something I wish to give back to the world – something more than a memory, but something physical that people can hold onto to remind them of a time in the past.” It didn’t matter to me if there was risk involved, if there was less money in the market, if it would be harder to run my own business rather than working in some huge corporate office in a tiny little cubicle. What mattered to me was my passion. My love. My legacy. And since that point, I’ve let my heart guide me in my decisions. Through the critics, the naysayers, the doubt and the fears, I found true happiness when I finally believed in myself and decided to chase after my goals relentlessly. I’ve learned that things rarely go as planned, and that’s okay, because most things happen for a reason. I realized that I don’t want to get too comfortable; I crave spontaneity and serendipity. I’ve learned that nothing worth having comes easy, and dreams don’t work unless you do. And most importantly, I’ve learned to always be authentically myself…

Always Avery.

 

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December 15, 2020

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