Hey guys!!! Holy cow I’m SO STOKED and a litttttle nervous to be sharing this!?!? Hahah definitely some embarrassing moments in my past lol that’s for sure. But in all honesty I’m so stoked to share with you guys how I got to where I am today!! Giving you guys a breakdown of what steps I took for the most part and how I became a wedding photographer, educator and entrepreneur by 25.
SO LET’S HOP INTO ITTTT!
I’m bringing it back to the end of high school since that’s kinda when everything started. That’s usually when you should have an idea of what you want to do right!? Or that’s what they tell you at least. So let’s get into the mind of 18 year old Bridgette for a hot minute.
I was the SHIEST kid you probably would have ever met. And what’s funny about that is NO ONE ever believes me. They’re like “Bridgette you’re SO outgoing now and so friendly and such a people person– there’s NO WAY you were super shy” hahah I get it all the time. Which is awesome because I’ve truly grown into the person I’ve been called to be and I’ve overcome a lot of those feelings when I was younger. I was so shy that I would barely talk to anyone– I had a few friends here and there but I definitely wasn’t a “cool kid” lmao why is that even a thing btw!? Gotta love high school.
At the time I thought I wanted to go into Architecture. I’m such a creative soul at heart and even though I hadn’t found photography yet, I was still so interested in the creation of something. Architecture intrigued me because I loved decorating my home, making it all cute and aesthetic hahah, and so I figured I could design the homes that people would fall in love with! Seemed great at the time.
So when I was applying for colleges, one of the schools I applied for specialized in Architecture: The University of Denver Colorado. It has a specialty undergrad program for architects. SICK! I got in, and was on my way.
I started my first semester and you guessed it– I was still the shy kid who wanted to have a voice, but didn’t know how. I was stuck in my shell but wanted so badly to speak up for something and be a leader and feel confident in my skin and future! More on my inner transformation another time 😉
I roomed with a few girls who were super outgoing, loud and wild and that helped a bit in the shy department for sure. Moving out of my moms house in Reno and moving to Denver, Colorado for college grew me a lot in sooo many ways! I was able to grow up a bit more since I was on my own now.
One person I HAVE to talk about in regards to my time in college was my college mentor, Stig. If I recall, he was my counselor and the one who helped me figure out what courses I had to take next. And had the most unique name!! He pronounced it “Steeeg”. Anyways– he was a guide for me from the start. I remember speaking to him multiple times about how I don’t know if architecture is the path for me, how I love being creative and being part of something bigger than myself, being part of a team of hard working people. I’m telling you when I went to my first architecture class, I knew off the bat it wasn’t for me. I’m not THE BESTTT at math, and was going to have to sit in a room by myself most of the time drawing out layouts? NAH. And Stig said something to me during my time in Denver that has stuck with me ever since:
“You are a salmon. Salmon swim upstream to fulfil their purpose”
Or something along those lines. All I remember is him printing out a small black and white photo of a salmon and giving it to me. Telling me how much potential I have and how I’m not scared to swim against the grain to fulfill my purpose. And that’s what initially sparked the fire under my ass.
Here’s where it gets juicy.
From here is when I started my YouTube channel. I friggen LOVED watching beauty bloggers and DIY videos and people vlogging their lives. I thought it was so fun and they got paid for it? Friggen rad. I bought THE TINIEST, cheapest camcorder (I wish I still had it) at the time– it was all I could afford, and made my first video: The Perfect Holiday Makeup Look. Dear lord…. Hahaha.
AND YES I’ve already privated it so don’t try searching for it HAHAHA it’s so cringe worthy.
It’s fine. It’s fine.
So I made my first video! In my dorm room in Denver might I add with the only lighting be my desk lamp haha. But I DID IT!!! It was SO SCARY but I did it! And the fact that I started something I was excited about, was so beyond freeing and moving in so many ways.
From here, I finished out my semester at UCD and then came back home. I knew Architecture wasn’t for me and I didn’t want to fork out out-of-state tuition any longer. So I moved back home to Reno!
When I moved home, I was literally two weeks too late for the deadline to go to school at my local university: UNR. If this wasn’t a sign looking back, I don’t know what is. So I didn’t go to school that semester.
I later went to TMCC, the community college here and ended up getting my associates degree. All three semesters I went here I was DREADING every second of it. I knew I was wasting my time and I could be doing something better with my time and my life.
Right when I joined TMCC is when I also got a job at In-N-Out Burger. This is where I met my boyfriend, Jake (currently been together now for close to 5 years ayeee).
I continued to make YouTube videos here and there, and eventually got super burnt out. It was exhausting and I kind of came to the conclusion that unless you become famous + well known on YouTube, you’re not going to make it as a career. So I started to pivot.
Before this entire story, I went to school with a few friends who played around with photography, and sometimes I’d hang out with them, they’d take photos of me, and I’d pose how I thought looked good lol. It was super fun for me and we were just playing around getting creative. I never thought anything of it, but looking back, I love modeling and creating.
So I picked up modeling!
I did this for about 3 months. I got professional headshots taken, started a portfolio, worked with the Edge Nightclub in the Peppermill Resort in Reno, was featured in Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine, and modeled for a friend’s jewelry line.
This all sounds super legit and IT WAS hahah but honestly I hated it! I couldn’t die my hair how I wanted it “I had to have the same image”, I almost passed out a few times because I wouldn’t eat as much as I should have– I thought I had to be thinner. And then when presented with modeling for a bathing suit company– yeah it would have been fun, but I came to the realization that I don’t want to have to show off my body to make money. That’s just not me. What initially was fun and a hobby turned into something I actually really didn’t want to do.
And YES if you go into The Edge Nightclub in Reno, you’ll still see my photos on the walls ahhhh! Hahah they honestly look nothing like me– they made me stand in the most uncomfortable position forever and then completely photoshopped my body, but hey if you want to go see them in person, they’re there!! Still such an accomplishment looking back when that was at one time what I wanted to do.
Also– everytime I would receive the photos back from the photographers, they never ended up how I thought they would. I had these visions of how I imagined them turning out, but never turned out that way– which is fine! They weren’t bad images by any means, I just thought they would be at a different angle, or I would look a bit different is all. Since I’m a creative at heart this honestly was super frustrating!
This is when the idea of becoming a photographer sparked. I ultimately wanted that creative control over how the images turned out.
Like I said a few of my friends were photographers, and this is when the comparison game came in. I told myself, “Why should I become a photographer if they’re already so good at it?” “No one is going to hire me since their work is better and I haven’t even started”
LIES LIES LIES
I played this comparison game for about a year, until I finally had enough. I got to the point where I wanted to create, FOR ME, and if no one hired me, so friggen be it. But maybe someone will pay me $20 if I worked hard enough?
This was when I was working at In-N-Out and Starbucks at the time. Mornings at Starbucks, nights at In-N-Out. And you guessed it, trying to do photographer in between all of that. This was probably one of the lowest times for me. I was always tired, overworked, and couldn’t do it all. I quit my job at Starbucks to do photography, but soon realized crap idk how I’m going to pay for rent. I would literally have $5 to my name after the money I was making at In-N-Out at the end of every month. I ALMOST went back to Starbucks because I couldn’t live like that. Jake told me– Bridgette. You’re not going back there. You hated your life. Even if you make $20 from photography, that’s $20 more you’ll have every month! And he was so right. This is the push I needed to actually go for it. I was still living in so much fear.
January 2017 I hit the ground running. I was on fire and no one could stop me.
I ordered a camera, made a website (threw it together on wix might I add) and called myself a photographer lol! But hey! We all start somewhere, right?
I announced on facebook that I was doing free photoshoots for the first month. “I don’t know what I’m doing and just need to get practice, if they suck, well at least they were free” hahaha. I swear to you I booked almost 50 sessions that first month. AND ATE THAT SHIT UP.
I had like 3 to 4 shoots A DAY sometimes and I loved it!! NO I didn’t have a workflow, or know how to edit, or have a process of backing up my images, and definitely shot on AUTO, but I was now in the arena swinging baby.
From here it was just slowly raising my prices to what I felt I was worth. From nothing, to $20, to $40, and so on.
I took on everything I could from seniors, to family sessions, to couples– and that’s when it hit me. The first time I shot a couples session, I was obsessed. They were different from the rest and I was hooked on capturing the emotion between two people.
From here I started shooting engagement sessions, and then my first wedding! Mind you I was still working at In-N-Out part time.
I got to the point where I wanted MORE. I was like “K I know my style, I know how to shoot my camera (for the most part), but like how in the hell do I make money? How do I make this a profitable, successful business so it’s not just an expensive hobby like the rest?”
This is when I invested in a mentor + her workshop.
I paid $600 of my HARD EARNED money and flew out of state to learn from her. We’ll leave out real names to be respectful– I’m not here to slash her or her business, I’m just here to share my story. We’ll call her Betty.
Betty not only was LATE to our mentorship, but I walked away with nothing. I didn’t learn anything I came to learn, and I was devastated. Heart broken. She was insta-famous so I thought I could learn something from her. WRONG. Just because someone has a big number next to their name doesn’t mean they are qualified to teach you. Do your research. It was a TOTAL fucking money grab.
I was burned so bad and so devastated. I already signed up for her workshop before the mentorship and thought maybe it’ll be different. You already paid (thousands by the way), it must be better. It’ll be different. Well a few months go by, and I’m sobbing in an airport because information was released ONE DAY before the workshop and I no longer could afford to go– and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to pay for rent. BURNED. AGAIN.
2018 came and it was the biggest, busiest, one of the hardest years of my life. I booked 7 weddings this year and shot so many engagements, families, and seniors I lost count. This is the year I knew that I had found my calling. I have NEVER been so passionate about something, and it was changing me left and right.
I became more open, outspoken, more of a people person– and slowly but surely I was growing into the person I’d always wanted to.
I knew I needed help on the business side of things, I was just SO NERVOUS to invest and get burned again by a mentor.
Then I found Kylie Morgan and Hustle and Flow.
I messaged Brittani from H+F about how I’m scared to invest in a workshop because of what happened to me. She showed me reviews and results and I was considering going. She said something along the lines of, “How bad do you want to grow? I can get you there”. So I sold some things I didn’t need around the house, stopped buying Starbucks, and had $3 to my name after I bought a ticket.
I loved Kylie’s personality and style, and was so intrigued by how she was so successful but still had so much time to spend with her dog and husband. I did a mentorship with her and I cried, opened up, and grew so dang much. Kylie, love you so much babe.
Right after this is when I went to Hustle and Flow. And between Kylie’s mentorship and attending H+F, my life was changed. I went from having zero weddings for 2019 to booking 22 weddings in 2 months. WTF!?!
November 2018 I quit my part time job at In-N-Out to do photography full time. It was the SCARIEST decision, but honestly I wish I had done it sooner. I was the only one holding me back because of my fear to fail. But what was the worst that would happen!? I go work at In-N-Out again? They didn’t want me to quit anyways haha.
2019 was my busiest year yet– where I pushed myself past my limit and ended the year completely burnt out with 27 weddings, tons of engagement sessions, and I traveled to so many new places. I was exhausted, but so damn fulfilled. I made a name for myself. I hit 6 figures with my photography business. I found my limits and took some time off to rest and re-evaluate.
Today while I’m writing this, it’s May of 2020. February 2020 marked 3 years since I picked up a camera and shot 50 sessions for free. 3 years since I started my journey!
People ask me all the time how I grew my business to where it is now in such a short amount of time, and honestly? I HUSTLED. HARD.
The countless amount of all nighters, breakdowns, then some breaththrus!, all while juggling a job to help fund it and pay for rent for the first year was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. And then push harder once I did this full time because there’s no way I’m going back.
Here’s the thing– I wanted it bad. I wanted this for me. And I made it happen. I’m still growing and evolving every single day, and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come.
From this journey, I’ve found a new passion in education and teaching. I dropped out of college and had bad experiences with Betty and want to show others how to do what I did. And that not all mentors or workshops are bad. I want to be a voice for others and be a light and a guide for those starting out that were in my position.
I decided to leave my story here for now! It’s already SO DANG LONG haha sorry guys. I’ll release more insight in regards to my journey in becoming an educator in the future, but for now– you have from start to finish my entire story of how I became a full time photographer!
If you read this entire thing, thank you. Thank you for wanting to learn more about me and how I got to where I am now!
My workshop // The Transformed Workshop