In the beginning…

This week I have had coffee dates with 3 other photographers. It has been so nice to talk about work, how our businesses started and how we differ in the way we do things.

Many other photographers I follow started their blog at the same time they started their business. I am so jealous of this! I wish I had been organized enough in the beginning to think to write a blog to document this journey. I love reading how other photographers started and I think it must be so nice for them to have an online journal that displays their growth and birth of their business. My favourite posts to read on photographers blogs is their very first post, to see how it all started!

I started this blog as a “family” blog where I could write about our move, and how life in general was going. It morphed into a photography blog for my business while keeping the personal family aspect of it.

So last night while laying in bed, being jealous of everyone that had that “first blog post” I thought why not write one now!

While in University to become an elementary school teacher, I hated the camera we owned. I had taken a few film photography courses in highschool and loved working in the darkroom. The camera we owned was a small $100 purse camera that did not take photos the way I wanted them too! I would come back from trips frustrated with how my pictures had turned out and I swore to Marco that we would invest in a nice camera before we had kids.

In the Fall of 2008, my friends Sheila and Dan got engaged. As I still had my Mom’s old film camera I offered to take their engagement pictures! I had so much fun! So much fun!  It was like a lightbulb going off. I wanted to do this more. I was addicted!

So home I went to talk to Marco. I debated about whether or not I wanted to follow through and become a teacher or if I wanted to pursue photography. I finally decided that I would invest in a camera and see where things went, while still pursuing teaching as a backup.

In January of 2009, after searching craiglist for MONTHS and researching cameras and lenses. I bought my Canon 40D and the 28-135mm lens. And here is my most embaressing photography moment. When I met the lady downtown to buy the 40D, she asked if I wanted to take a photo with the camera to make sure it worked. She handed me the camera…..

I didn’t even know how to turn it on!

Yes I knew how to work my Mom’s old film 35mm, and I knew about aperature and f-stops, and all that jazz….but not this fancy digital amazing camera! I was so embaressed! I had to ask her to take a picture of me! I have only ever told a few people that story!

For the next few months I practiced on whoever would let me….my family, Marco got a photoshoot, my sister Monique got a photoshoot….

It helped me lots to have two ridiculously good looking models, but they were the first photos in my portfolio and I am so grateful to them for letting me photograph them for hours!

Unfortunatly I can’t for the life of me remember who my first paying photoshoot was! I so wish I could! I would thank them for helping me start my business.  From that point on I created a website through Vistaprint which I now hate…I was so concerned with getting a website that I didn’t take the time to research what programs were out there for building websites. It worked for me at the time, and later this week I will launch my new website through Showit. I ordered business cards, and handed them out to everyone I knew! But I still wasn’t going anywhere.

When it comes to succeeding I find it’s usually me that gets in my own way. I over think things, I worry too much, I concern myself so much with what other people will like that I lose me in the process. When I first started this journey I was so worried about what other photographers were doing that I wasn’t focusing on what I wanted to do. It didn’t hit me until a few months later when I came across a quote on the internet that goes something like this…

 “To truly succeed, you must do so by being you. To succeed at being someone else, isn’t succeeding at all.”

 I loved that quote so much and I can’t remember who it’s from, but I knew I had to start doing things my way.

In July of last year I decided to stop pursuing my teaching career and focus 100% on photography. To do things my way and to focus on how I wanted to do things. I started working on my website, started blogging more, and altered my outlook on things. I prayed lots about this decision and asked God to help me through it and to help me focus on what was the right decision for me.

A few weeks later I got a few wedding inquries and booked my first few weddings for 2011. I booked 9 portrait sessions for October. I was given the opportunity to buy Jasmine Stars wedding workshop and that inspired me even more to go after this whole heartedly and to really make this me. She said in her first video that when she first started in the business she realized she couldn’t win if she played everyone elses game, so she decided to win at her own game. She made it her own, she did things her way…this was so inspirational to me. I loved it!

I am so excited for 2011. It is my first year doing this full time. My first year fully committed to it. My first year of knowing that this is exactly what I was meant to do. I have 9 weddings booked and I am so excited for each and every one. I have made friends with these brides! I am going to Vegas for the WPPI with an amazing group of photographers from the Lower Mainland and one from California that I am sure will teach me so much. I can’t wait to hear Jasmine Star speak live, I can’t wait to hear what other photographers are doing. I have photoshoots lined up for the next couple months, a new website launching this week, a new lens, new business cards are being ordered to match my website….I feel like everything is finally coming together the way I wanted, and hoped and prayed it would in the beginning.

God has blessed me so much, and I am forever grateful!

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5 responses

  1. Great first post! Really digging that portrait of the girl in blue – Seriously beautiful light. Have fun with your new blog!

    February 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    • Justine Russo

      Thanks thats my sister! It is a bit late for a “first” post, but I figured better late than never!

      February 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      • Now that you mention it, I can see the resemblance. Keep up the great work!

        February 3, 2011 at 9:07 am

  2. Holly

    So very proud of you xo
    Wishing you all the success that you deserve.
    You are an amazing photographer and I love looking at all your pictures. Especially the ones of Luca :)
    Love you <3

    February 2, 2011 at 2:51 am

    • Justine Russo

      Thanks Mom! I love you too!

      February 2, 2011 at 5:50 am

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