Location– Scottsdale, AZ
Years in Business– 2.5
About Rachel– “I'm from a tiny town in rural southern Indiana (no joke, less than 100 people live there), a part of the state with rolling hills, farm land, and forest. I studied Theatre at Indiana University, and also played trumpet in the marching band and pep band (for Bobby Knight)! After graduation I packed up my tiny two-seater car and drove across the country to Hollywood so I could be a movie star. 🙂 I ended up mostly waiting tables, and doing Extra work! I eventually moved to Scottsdale in 2003 where I got a job in real estate. I never really loved that job, but it taught me so much about business, working with customers, communication, and referrals.
Shortly after moving to Scottsdale, I decided to go on my first mission trip, to Uganda. I bought a Canon Rebel, had a friend tell me the basics, and off I went to Africa to create my own National Geographic photos. 🙂 I went to Africa two more summers after that, each time bringing back images that moved people and told a story about the people there. One of the girls who worked for the organization I went with invited me to display some of my images in an art gallery downtown during one of Phoenix's First Fridays. Everyone came and said I should do photography for a living, but at the time, I had no clue how one would make a living doing that, or even if I wanted to. Well, it turns out the guy who helped me hang my images for that gallery show was a wedding photographer. So we got to know each other and I asked him a million questions that first year when I started shooting. I second shot with him a few times and he even ended up shooting my own wedding!
At some point throughout that first year, everything fell into place. My creative side, my business side, and my love for the energy of a wedding day, and I decided I wanted to shoot weddings for a living. Fast forward to today, where I just recently quit my real estate job to pursue weddings full time. I couldn't have done it without all the help I received along the way!”
Fun facts: My little minpin doggie is named after the female lead in The Fifth Element. I've jumped out of an airplane. I've white water rafted the Nile river 3 times. I was valedictorian of my high school graduating class, which was a grand total of 86 students. When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, a dream that never really left me. I have eaten friend squirrel and turtle soup (yay southern Indiana!). I'm an only child. I love cake. I love ice cream. I love mashed potatoes and gravy with fried chicken. I was in an *NSYNC music video. I can sing the entire RENT soundtrack. I have six fingers on my right hand…. okay not really.
What advice would you give to new photographers? Get involved, first in an online community and second in a local community. For me the absolute best thing I did for my business that first year was to become a part of the Showiteer community on Facebook. Anytime I had a question, someone was always there to answer it for me, to support and encourage me, and to make me feel like I was not alone. I think without that group I would have given up so quickly. My business, and my quality of work, has grown so immensely and I truly believe it is because of that group of people.
I was also fairly involved in our local Showiteer group, attending meetings, conferences, getting together for lunches, practice shoots… That's how I got to know people, where I got second shooting opportunities, wedding referrals… And where I felt like there were people who “got” me and knew where I was at in my business and in life. It made all the difference in boosting my confidence, driving me to improve my work, and eventually to be able to give back to other new photographers.
What is a dream you'd love to make happen? One of the reasons I first picked up that Canon Rebel and went on that mission trip was because of the work of Rodney Rascona (http://www.rascona.com). The organization I served with, Food for the Hungry (www.fh.org), has his images all over their Phoenix offices and their marketing pieces. I would just stare at his images and dream of someday being able to do what he does… use his talents and gifts to serve and bring awareness in a dignified way to those in need. I dream of someday being able to go on another mission trip, but this time as a photographer to document the lives of the people we are serving, for an organization who can use those images to further their mission.
How long have you used Showit? I've used Showit for about 2 years! I started out with some crappy template that I had to pay someone every time I needed a change, and it was just horrible! Haha! I attended Promise Tangeman's first Sitehouse GoLive workshop and haven't looked back! My newest website was unveiled in December and is also one of Promise's Sitehouse style groups, customized by Meg Long, who also redid my blog to match. I'm so incredibly proud of my website and blog. It's a complete branded experience that absolutely matches who I am, who my ideal client is, and the type of work I want to shoot.
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