I consider myself to be immensely blessed. I get to go to work every day doing what I love, serving others! I get asked all the time, “How did you get into photography?” To be honest, even though photography has been a huge part of my life since I was young, it wasn’t until my first year of college that I decided to look into it as a career.
Y’all, I NEVER imagined I would be where I am today. Growing up I loved all kinds of art, especially drawing and painting. My grandfather was an amazing oil painter, and I loved sitting at the dining table with him and drawing fruit-scapes when I was young. Well maybe sometimes I would rather play with my cousins, but looking back, I’m glad I didn’t! As I got older, I realized that while I enjoyed these mediums, I knew they were not the ones for me and began searching other avenues of creativity.
I started getting into photography in middle school and received my first “fancy camera” for Christmas in high school. It was a Canon Rebel Film Camera and I never put it down! I was on my high school yearbook staff as a photographer, and loved photographing friends and family in high school as a hobby. When it was time for college, I was confused about what I wanted to do next. I’ve always known I wanted to do something creative with my career, but wasn’t sure if photography was it. I decided to go to community college for the first year and get my core classes done while I pondered what to do with my future.
Side note: I am so glad I did this!!!! I had several friends that wanted me to follow them to the college they chose, and had I given into the pressure, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s so important to listen to your own heart and not what other people think is best for you. YOU have to live with YOUR decisions, not them, so make sure it’s what you want.
That year was key in finding out what I was really passionate about. At this point, I had had a camera in my hands for almost 8 years and everyone knew me as “the girl who takes the pictures”! I started getting asked to take family photos for people at church, then I started getting asked to take senior photos, and everyone referred me to all their friends. I even photographed a very small backyard wedding for a family friend. I realized that photography really was my passion and I knew that I needed to start looking at my future as a photographer.
After researching the different universities for the best photography programs, I chose to attend the University of North Texas. Their art program is the best in the state and I knew their competitive photography program was perfect for me! Funny story, when I toured the campus, the counselor I met with told me the program was too competitive, and that I would never get in, let alone graduate in a timely manner. Umm, I’m sorry, do you know me??? Yeah, not only did I get in the program on the first round, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in the Studio Art of Photography within three years, WITH honors. Mic drop! I began a job as a photographer’s assistant for a well established studio in Southlake, Texas soon after graduation and everything in my life was going great! 10 years ago I thought this is where my story would end. I had planned to grow my career with this studio and be with them forever. But that didn’t happen…
Not long after I graduated, the economy tanked and I lost my job at the studio. I was devastated. But, the banks don’t care about your hardships, soooo I had to find a job fast and ended up in the school district as a lab assistant. I also took a side job at the Rangers Ballpark as a ticket seller, just to make enough to help pay my student loans, and my minimal expenses. Luckily, my parents were kind enough to let me live at home until I found another job. With the economy still being what it was, there were very few jobs available for a photographer, and trying to build my own business would be a death wish. That next summer I obtained a job as a receptionist for a doctor’s office and was able to move out on my own and try and get back to a normal life. I decided to take some time away from photography and just focus on my new job. I was also still working for the Texas Rangers, for fun at this point, and a few months later I would meet Stephen!
Fast forward 2 years and I found myself planning a wedding and a new life with the man I fell in love with! During this process I learned a lot about the service industry and how it affects people. I had some great experiences with most of our wedding vendors, and some not so great experiences. After having gone through the photography process as a customer, and remembering why I love it so much, I spent the next 2 years in deep thought, prayer and discussion with Stephen about getting back to my dream of having a photography business.
The funny thing is, I didn’t want to do wedding photography. I wanted to have a studio space and do portrait photography. Babies, children, families, seniors, all that jazz! After all, that’s what I had been trained in, AND we had just bought a beautiful home with an extra living space I could turn into a studio! I was just ecstatic over the possibilities! But it’s funny how God looks at your life and has a totally different plan for it…
In 2017 we attended our very first professional photography conference to learn all we could about owning and running a studio business. Y’all, we didn’t sleep the entire three days we were there! We left with a totally different outlook on our future and before we knew it, we had changed ALL of our plans and decided wedding photography was the path God was leading us to.
Why wedding photography? Well, after much discussion about what we learned at the conference, we decided that running a portrait studio was not the life we ultimately wanted for ourselves. We wanted a little more freedom and to be able to serve people outside the boundaries of walls. So I proceeded to pursue more education in the wedding photography world and made one of the greatest business decisions of my life, I invested in a mentor!
Three years, thousands of failures and triumphs later, and I am definitely living my dream!! I won’t lie, it has not been easy. Anyone who tells you running a business is easy, they’re lying to you. It’s so very hard. I don’t just take pretty pictures for a living; I’m running a growing, thriving business that has responsibilities like business overhead and taxes. Every year is a learning year, no matter how many years you’ve been in business, and failures happen. Thankfully, I have had so much help along the way, from friends and family supporting me, to other photographers teaching me new skills and business techniques to help me grow.
So this is my story! If you actually read all of this, thank you! Every one of us has a story of how we started, and every one of them is unique and perfect in it’s own way. Yes, I said perfect, you know why? Because everything happens for a reason. Every time I failed, I learned something. Every time I had a door shut in my face, I found an open window. Through every hardship God has provided triumph. I am truly blessed for every moment. The only way to succeed is to keep going!
Courtney Lynn Photography are husband + wife wedding photographers based out of Dallas/Fort Worth and an educator for small business owners who are hustling to create their dream photography business!
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