• Mary Ann Graves

This is my "why"

I have been working very hard on my photography business over the last few months and I figured it is time to explain my "why" for photography. 10 years ago, I would have never imaged myself stepping out and creating a business to pursue but here I am taking the leap of faith! There are so many reasons why people start a business, wether it's for financial stability, a hobby, or a passion. For me, my "why" involves so many aspects that I hope you are inspired and strengthened by it.

Many may or may not know that I have LOVED photography for a very love time. I think I get it from my dad!! Even before DSLR's became available, I took a ton of pictures and still have boxes full of film strips & photos in my basement. Up until this point, I have never really sat down to fully understand how to take good pictures. I would just put my camera on Auto and hope for the best. It was not until I was sitting at sunrise at Ankor Wat in Cambodia in August of 2018, trying to get the photos and epic shots I KNEW I could get. I was so frustrated that I could not make my camera do what I wanted it to do. I came home and decided I would try to get some fall pictures of my baby girl. Again, they just were not turning out how I had hoped and I was getting better images on my iPhone! It was then and there, I decided to do something about it. I found an online classroom that offered many photography classes. I started my subscription and from there began learning all about my camera first. Then I found another particular (amazing) educational courses and teacher which lead me to not only managing my camera but controlling the surroundings, lightening, location, layout, posing, and how to be consistent. I am 6 months in and feel I have come a long way. I still have a long way to go, but I thank God for how far I have come!

As I began to really dive into my courses, I wanted to practice on my friends and family. I realized that I could actually do this and decided I should go for it. If anything, it would help me to constantly grow as a photographer even if it did not take me far. I would, at least, have gorgeous pictures of my kids!!!! Over the past few months, people have been taking notice and asking me to take pictures. The more I photographed, the more I fell in love and grew. I am currently past the initial "free sessions" for my portfolio and now trying to book paid sessions. I am praying that they soon take off and I am able to give priceless memories to many more people!

All of this brings me to my second reason for my "why". This is a little more personal but I feel I need to share as God has been answering prayers in this aspect of my life. My hope is that someone going through a similar situation will have hope again by hearing our testimony. Almost 10 years ago, I gave birth to our first born child. Our first daughter, Aubrey Elizabeth. She was born sleeping in heaven and is now happily playing with Jesus, eagerly waiting for us. She was my miracle baby bc she made me a mom and despite all the things "medically wrong" with her, she let me feel her kicks, let me carry her inside of me for 26 weeks and taught me more about God, my marriage and myself than anybody or anything ever has in the past. One of the hardest things about losing a child, is the fact that my love for her does not die just bc she is no longer here on earth. It grows every day just like it does for my other babies that I have the privilege raising here on earth. A friend of mine, that also lost her daughter later on in life, said that you need to find an outlet for that love. Those of us that have lost children (side note: there are widow/ers, and orphans but there is no word for parents that lost children bc it is that devastating) have to find an outlet to constantly show our love since our kids are not here physically for us love and hug on. That has always stuck with me and for years been asking God how can I show my love. How can I give back and help others in a similar situation. When I began photography, it became so clear this was my way to give back & have God turn our horrible, tragic situation into good that always points back to His love and goodness. I made the choice to include into my specialty area: maternity, birth, fresh 48 and lifestyle newborn session. From the beginning, I was drawn to weddings; however, when I started to see how this could help so many people, my heart was literally leaping at the opportunity that lays before me in this aspect! I photographed my first birth a few weeks ago and it was out of this world amazing! I knew from that moment, this was the avenue God wanted me to use! What an answer to prayer and I am excitedly waiting to book MANY more maternity, birth, fresh 48 and lifestyle newborn!!!!!

It is crazy bc I want to say that you are never too old or have missed the calling God has place on your life. I may not be 20 years old but I still have A LOT of love, life, years and happiness to give to those that cross my path.

While the financial aspect of photography is not the highest priority on my "why", it does play a small factor. I am a stay at home mom to 4 amazing kids, 3 boys and 1 girl!! We homeschool, have sports, heavily involved at church, live almost 900 miles away from all family (although my niece did just move about 3 hours away a few week ago!!!), have one car, and live in Colorado. I have been told so many times that there is a lot of money in photography, however, I am not in this for the money. My goals are not to be on the Fortune 500; however, make enough to cover my costs and help ease the cost of raising a family of 6. I want to be able pay hockey fees (hockey moms, can I get an AMEN!!), homeschool curriculum, buy another car for my husband, and take a vacation other than driving back to MO to visit family (although that costs quite a bit for us too!! haha). My husband and I also have goals to help others that are less fortune than us. We want to be able to take care of those around us that do not have the luxury of a working car or even food. We do what we can now in the way of giving; however, have it on our hearts to do so much more!! We also want to take care of our parents bc they have given so much for us. How awesome would it be to completely support the parents!!?? Ahhhh, such a gift we want to give them. We have so much love and respect for how much they have given up, given to us and hard work for so many years that we feel this is the least we can do for them.

Ok, so I guess the financial is more important than I thought but for many more reasons than us wanting to waste money on things that are unnecessary.

I am also involved in a wonderful program called It's Not Ok through our church, Citipointe. We have a SHE Rescue home in Cambodia that completely rehabilitates girls that have been rescued from sex trafficking and gives them their life, safety, innocence, and happiness back (they are completely taken care of medically, educationally, physically, emotionally, mentally, and our social workers work to prosecute the perpetrators). This is the reason I travel to Cambodia and have plans to return every year. We are wanting to start partnering with other organizations and local law enforcement to provide resources for those that have been trafficked/rescued here in Colorado and the United States. By using my photography business, I can give monetarily and of my time/talent to make this happen. SHE Rescue is very near to my heart and I want to give all that I can. I never want to say, "well, I could have given more but I did not bc I was selfish." I am here to make a positive and Godly difference!!

This is my "why." This is what keeps me going when I am not getting bookings. This is what keeps me going when it gets hard and I get frustrated. It's because I know that this talent is not for just me but it is bigger than that. It is for those that need a touch of goodness, God, love, & happiness. One may think that photography is just taking a bunch of pictures, but I am here to tell you, it goes far beyond that for both you and I. I LOVE what I do and what I am able to bring to you and the world. I humbly ask that you continue to help me make a difference. I thank you for your continued support, prayers and love. Together, we can change this world and make it a better place for all.

As I stated at the beginning, I am working very hard on my business. I plan to blog a lot more as a wonderful way to stay in touch with all my friends and family. Blogging is such as great way to pass along all that is happening in my business, tip & fun information for you and stay apart of our lives! I love sharing this journey with all of you so here is to many more posts and photography sessions!!!!!

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