I wanted to get more experience with wedding photographers in my area. So, I asked if I can be an assistant, for FREE.
Everyone I asked turned me down. They all asked what gear I had. It wasn't until 2015 I got connected with amazing creatives and photographers through The Rising Tide Society I wish I found years ago that were in this city.
I joined a Facebook group called Shoot & Share early 2014 and it changed my life. I began to meet other photographers from all around the world, and a lot are really good friends.
I was used to being the little guy and no one knew me. I created something called Shoot & Share Late Night #SSLN in the group where I began to meet and encourage other photographers and it was amazing to see how many photographers needed help.
I would get Facebook messages with questions. I kept encouraging and encouraging. Soon I was on my way to Vegas in May 2015 to second shoot a wedding for my good friend Ashley who hired me to train her and shoot her first wedding. Which she totally rocked it!
I went full time July 2015 into photography and it was scary because I had no sessions or weddings booked. I was on borrowed time. One day I decide to write a blog post sharing a piece of my story (Read Here) it was read around the world and I received messages thanking me for writing it. One of those messages was local and I realized no one was encouraging and no one was mentoring and loving on other photographers. So I reached out and I offered to help.
I was always commenting on everyones posts, even on my favorite photographers post and encouraging them. We all need it no matter what level we are at. And this is where I say "Ashley Told Me So". She is basically like my big sister who lives in Vegas and was always telling me she believed in me and saw a big future for me.
The First Time I Started to Believe in Myself
I attended Showit United in Phoenix, Arizona . There is so much to share which I will in a video one day. All of my favorite photographers/Academy Teachers were going to be there, and they all were excited to meet me. I was surprised everyone including the speakers knew who I was and to hear Katelyn James say I was the best and the popular one. I thought yeah right. I thought I honestly was going to feel like a nobody. I was the kid people made fun of and never the popular kid, or had any friends. No one ever knew who I was. One day a girl turned around halfway through the semester in class and asked if I was new in the class... I was there since day 1.
Sitting by the pool just talking to God and having some alone time. I said I need a sign I need something. Should I keep doing what I'm doing. It's tough I am not as cool or successful as the others. So after quite a bit of time I felt a piece that everything was going to be okay. Then I heard my name from across the pool. I see 6 beautiful people walking and if you know these wonderful educators and photographers. It was my sign. They called me over to take a group photo of them by the pool. I just so happened to have my camera with me that day in my backpack. (just in case) It was as rare as moment like seeing Unicorns but not only 1... 6!
With me outside of the gala at Showit United getting ice cream (of course) Matt Kennedy finds me and says Chris, come here! I sit in my chair and I see my favorite photographers on stage. I hear Jordan Demos talking about how this guy is always encouraging and always helping and commenting on post and the industry needs more people like him. And the award for encourager goes to... It makes me honestly tear up a little every time. But, yeah... They called my name. The room went silent and all I heard was Amy & Jordan Demos, Katelyn James and Todd Watson say was "dude you're awesome" while giving them each a big hug. I later find out the room was not silent at all. The room was filled with my friends and favorite photographers cheering and screaming, even crying and they all knew it was going to be me.
From left to right we have the awesome Todd Watson (CEO of Showit), the amazing Katelyn James, and my first #demossanchwich with Amy & Jordan. This moment was something to remember and their stories encouraged me to keep going and to keep encouraging and helping other photographers.
Wasn't About Being Noticed
This award I celebrate with the little people. The people like me who felt completely worthless and thought no one was going to even know who they are. Scared and shaking nervously at the airport. God had called me to go and I went. (#tears) This day we rise and we conquer defeat. Even though no one gave us a chance we still strived and wanted to learn.
So, I began to encourage others mid-2014. I felt I never got it enough encouragement I was always made fun of. Crazy to think those late nights talking to people in the UK or Australia would bring me here. I didnt know what to do besides help people. I put them before myself all the time. People said I was awesome and the best, but I shrugged my shoulder and said eh.
I was so honored to meet all of those amazing photographers and my heroes after following them for over 2 years on social media. I never had enough money to attend any conference. This was the moment I began to see what all of those see in me way before I saw it in myself and I thank you for never giving up on me. I was just a little guy people picked on with no friends. Now, I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for in the whole world. It was never about whether they notice me or not, it's that God knew I needed a miracle in my life to start believing in myself and that is what happened that night October 19, 2015. In that ball room filled with around 250 of the best photographers including the ones I looked up to believed in me and It was now my turn. It's now your turn.