When someone asks you, “What is your dream job?” what do you say? Whether it’s an ice breaker question in a group of new people or if you’re one on one with someone having a heart to heart, how do you answer it? In college, I hit a wall and started to realize how to answer that question truthfully, but ever so scared because it was such an out of reach dream. My dream job is to be a wedding photographer. For those of you readers who have been following along with NRP for many years now, you might already know a little bit or a lot of this story, but for those of you who maybe just started following us, this is my NRP journey…
I first began following the NRP blog after Nancy shot a friend’s wedding in 2010. I was a freshman in college, and knew nothing about the wedding industry, but something about Nancy’s blog made me feel included. She told love stories in a way that captured my heart, and her images made me feel as if I were at the wedding as a guest, even though I didn’t know the people in the images from Adam. I found myself checking her blog on a weekly basis, and searching for other wedding blogs to follow. I was in a new relationship (with my now husband), no where close to becoming engaged, but I would very secretly read and look at wedding and photography blogs. Of course, I didn’t want any to know I was doing this because it just didn’t make any sense.
I have always enjoyed photography as a hobby – taking pictures of my friends and family during our travels or everyday life, but it wasn’t anything serious. Growing up, I loved disposable cameras. I remember taking 2 or 3 with me to all of my big adventures – camp, trips, and parties. I loved the idea of capturing something from my point of view, and patiently waiting as I took the film to a drug store to get developed. I got my first DSLR camera as a birthday gift when I was a freshman in college, and began messing around with shooting in manual, but I never felt as if I knew comfortably how to do it.
After almost a year of reading Nancy’s blog, she posted a blogpost that stopped me in my tracks. She was hiring an intern. I submitted an application, nervous that I would be in the running for such an awesome position, and excited because from what I knew about Nancy (I still had never met her in person), it seemed that we would be great friends! A couple weeks later, I received this email from her. To be honest, I was really bummed, but not totally discouraged.
Almost one year later (Yes, I am still reading Nancy’s blog), I was a junior at NC State studying Business Marketing and feeling so discouraged. I was confident that I didn’t want to pursue this major after college and was praying about going on full time staff with Young Life. And just like that, I opened up the NRP blog and saw another hiring opportunity, except this one was an even bigger deal than an intern. Nancy was hiring a studio assistant. I immediately sold myself short in my mind, “I have zero qualifications for this. I don’t even know one thing about photography, small business or weddings. Why would I even be considered?” I remember calling my dad and asking for advice. Our conversation went a little bit like this:
Me: “Dad, I just found a posting for my dream job! What do I do?”
Dad: “Well you could apply for it?”
Me: “There’s no way I’ll get this job. I’ll be laughed at. I’ll waste their time. I have zero qualifications.”
Dad: “Callie, let them make that decision. You should go for it! What do you have to loose? If anything it will be good resume fine tuning and interviewing experience for you.”
So I applied.
And Will and Nancy took me through an interview process like nothing else. We had phone interviews, in person interviews in coffee shops and in the studio, and they interviewed Jamie and I together. Will and Nancy prayed. Jamie and I prayed. And after a month of interviews, I received a call from Nancy while I was at a Brueggers doing some schoolwork. She offered me the job and I squealed with joy – literally I interrupted everyone in that restaurant with my joy.
Here’s the greatest thing about my story, God knew. Looking back, it is so evident to me how God opened this door wide open for me and clearly showed me, “Callie this is where I want you.” He made it happen, not me. He knew my strengths and where I could succeed when I did not. Praise God for that!
For the next 6 months, I worked in the NRP studio doing everything behind the scenes – packaging, linking blogposts, running errands, cleaning the studio for consultations, and occasionally shopping for Will and Nancy’s groceries. I soaked up all the knowledge that I could, and I truly loved every minute that I got to work alongside Nancy, especially the wedding days when I started carrying her bags and observing. I remember Nancy did a tiny wedding with only 8 guests, and she decided not to take a second shooter. Instead she asked me to go. I was terrified. “Do you know how to shoot comfortably in manual?” she asked as we pulled up to the venue. “Um… not really,” I replied. After a quick 5 minute tutorial in the parking lot I was ready to go.
In September of that year, Will, Nancy and I went to lunch and they presented the opportunity of a lifetime: becoming an associate wedding photographer under the NRP brand. This day was not only one of the greatest days of my career, but just another way that the Lord was saying “This is the way, follow me.” Elizabeth and I both were trained by Will and Nancy for 6 months on how to shoot a wedding. I learned everything I know about wedding photography because of them. We went to every wedding they booked. We took notes, we carried bags, we shot over their shoulders, and then were critiqued in the studio each week after the wedding. The training process was long and hard, but so worth it. I was molded and formed into an NRP photographer. I learned how to technically get “that NRP look,” how to shoot during the day and at night, what lenses to use during different situations, I memorized shot lists, and learned how to care for our clients. Will and Nancy are some of the best teachers I know. They are patient and graceful, firm and challenging. When we were finally ready to swim into the deep end on our own, we publicly announced our growing team and our readers got to know me as the NRP studio assistant and associate photographer.
And then something amazing happened. I booked my first wedding. I was thrilled, relieved, and so nervous all at the same time. “Someone is willing to take a chance on me.” I will never ever forget my first official sweet couple Megan and Spencer. Their beautiful wedding at the Fearrington was a dream come true. Months later, I found out that their wedding was going to be featured in The Knot The Carolinas Magazine. What?! I was over the moon, and once again affirmed that this is where the Lord wanted me.
Earlier in that year, our dear friend Becca of Rebecca Rose Events presented us with an opportunity for me to come to a wedding that she did the design and coordinating for, and asked me to shoot it solely for a submission. And once again, months later, I found out that my images were going to be featured in The Knot The Carolinas Magazine. “I really can do this.”
To date, I have lead shot 58 amazing weddings and have 10 booked for 2018. With each month I have been working here, I have been given more opportunities and responsibilities, I have grown in my photography, moving from a digital photographer to a film photographer, and helped our NRP team grow. This job is so much hard work and so life giving, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Thank you Lord.
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