Throughout my life, my mother has always told me that I have a type-A personality. The fact that I do not take anxiety medications is a miracle to me. The reason I am so good at keeping things organized is because I am a very type-A individual. Previously I have shared how and why I became interested in photography, but I am sharing it again because it has become such a large part of my life. But I also to encourage others.
It all started in the summer of 2016. In the spring of that year, my grandpa passed away very suddenly. I was 14 years old at the time, and it was the first person I had lost. His passing took time to sink in for me. That summer, we went to the Outer Banks, and my mom noticed that I wasn't myself. We were on the dolphin cruise when she handed me the family camera (a Canon Rebel Ti3). It was like love at first sight or "click" when I started taking pictures. Our eyes often miss the moments because they happen so quickly, but the camera captures them—freezing them in time.
School started in August and I put my efforts into taking a lot of pictures for free of my friends at that point until I felt comfortable charging for my services. All four years of my high school career, I took pictures of people I knew or acquaintances and served on the yearbook staff my senior year. Due to the fact that I did not consider myself as a professional, I did not want to charge a lot for the services I provided. After a lot of hard work and dedication, the summer prior to my senior year of high school, I managed to buy my first camera and a few lenses with the money I had saved. At the time I was able to give my mom the camera back to her, a little more used than when I had given it to her. Sorry, mom...
We have to take a moment to rewind a little bit in order to understand the rest of the story. I loved the idea of designing houses as a kid, and I always wanted to become an architect when I grew up... that is, until I learned exactly how much math is involved. After that, I was pretty much determined to be a graphic designer, but I wasn't quite sold on that decision. Then, during my junior year of high school, I was browsing through Instagram when I stumbled across the RedefineU page. It is a marketing company specializing in video production, brand photography, and social media management based out of Charlotte, NC. The more I learned about marketing, the more I realized it was not only something that interested me but also something that would be beneficial to my own photography business.
As I was finishing up my senior year of high school, the Corona Virus hit, and I had a lot of free time on my hands. As my interest in photography grew more and more, I knew I wanted to make it a part of my life and pursue it with a passion. In the midst of the pandemic and with a lot of downtime, I reached out to one of the founders of RedefindU, Chase Price, fully expecting not to hear back from him. Quite to my surprise, he answered. I wanted to thank him for something that he didn't even realize he did for me. Seeing what his team was doing and what he was able to accomplish led me to decide to major in marketing and helped me find out what one of my true callings was. I will always be grateful for that, and I will never forget it!
As well as contacting Chase, I also contacted another local photographer, asking what I would need to do to get started more seriously and what steps I needed to take in order to do so. She graciously allowed me to accompany her for a bridal session and to the wedding. At that moment, I knew that I wanted to work with couples and weddings in the future--the moments that tell their love story and the memories that make them feel special. It became clear to me quickly that it was my job to understand the client's stories, learn about them, and then tell them through the photographs I took.
It was quite difficult for me during my first year of college due to COVID, so I opted to stay at home, which was to my advantage in the long run. Throughout that entire year, I had a full schedule filled with photo sessions. That is one of the reasons that I was so upset when I left for Boone in August of 2022. I was anxious about what would happen with my business and how everything would turn out. This was on top of the normal anxiety of leaving for college for the first time. However, I spent every weekend at home. Other than the three weeks in January of 2022 when it snowed 20 inches in Boone.
As far as I am concerned, that was the longest and most rewarding year of my life to date, and I absolutely could not have done it without weekly and sometimes even daily phone calls from my favorite people. I have to tell you something, it's not easy being a 20-year-old college senior and owning a business at the same time. In spite of that, it was one of those experiences that you have to go through to fully appreciate the meaning of them. Even though I hated it at the time, almost a year later I believe that if things had worked out differently, and COVID wouldn't have happened and I went to college for the full four years. That I would have had a different opinion. There is nothing you can do about everything but you can control what you can, and college taught me numerous lessons over the period of nine months while I was there. At the end of the day I still graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration in Digital Marketing from App State.
During the year 2022, I spent most of it growing professionally and personally. As a result, I had the wonderful opportunity to purchase two new cameras and sell the first one I purchased myself back in my junior year of high school. It was also clear that I had to take my professional career to the next level, so I created my own website. In the end, it all worked out, as I booked and shot 119 sessions, weddings, and events over the course of a year. Rebecca Blanton Photography became an LLC in September of last year, which is a great step forward as a business! It was also a busy year for me because I was also working part-time at a local marketing company in the midst of all of that. All of this is to tell you that whoever is reading this, I hope you find the thing you love to do in this world. And maybe if you are lucky, like me, you might even find two things that you love to do. There was a time when I would never share any of this because I didn't have the self-confidence or I didn't think it mattered to anyone. Despite that, I believe that I wouldn't have had the guts to do what I've done if it wasn't for the courage and confidence I saw in others to do what they loved and believe in themselves.
In the course of owning this business, I found that there was always a little voice in my head telling me, “You are here today because you have worked hard, don't give up!" There wasn't just a voice in my head, but a flood of support from my colleagues, friends, family, and, most importantly, my clients, as well as my photography community. It has been wonderful to have made so many meaningful connections over the past year, and I would be here until the end of next year if I were to list all of them, so I will only share two stories.
It was in March of 2021 that another photographer got in touch with me and suggested that we meet up at some point in the future. I agreed and we did, in fact, meet up. The first time I met her, we had to drive 3 hours to a styled shoot that another photographer had organized. On the way there, we talked to each other like we had been friends for years. She has now grown into one of my closest friends.
My favorite part about working with my clients is that many of them began as strangers, but we have now become close friends over the course of the past few years. There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that my clients have a memorable experience, and I am grateful for the trust they place in me. There is a couple that I have photographed before. She reached out last year about scheduling a session for their anniversary with the following words:
“Rebecca, I am so happy to be booking you again! You are simply the best, and I want you to be free to take creative liberties with this session...I would like to have a total fall aesthetic like Zach Bryan’s songs!” I want you to take full creative liberties with this session! "I am so excited, and I couldn't think of someone more perfect to photograph us :)"
During the session, she mentioned that she loved having the same photographer capture all the special moments throughout their lives.
It is my purpose in life to serve others, and it is for that reason that I do what I do. This is not for the sake of fame or glory, but for reasons such as these! Our lives are filled with moments that come and go before we are able to process what we have experienced. It is important to cherish every moment in your life, from your first kiss to your last picture with your grandfather, no matter how small or large it may appear at the time. In a photograph, every emotion, from joy to sorrow to love, is encapsulated for all time. It is through photography that we are reminded of the moments in life and celebrate them. My favorite part of the job is that I am able to do that for my clients and that I am able to tell them a story through the pictures I take. In the end, they are becoming part of my story...