I, like most people, began my photography journey as an amateur or “faux tog” as most newbies in the business are referred to these days. I knew nothing about manual settings, skin tone, lighting, etc. But, I had a brand new DSLR camera, and I was going to be a photographer! I think at that point in my life it had less to do with me wanting to start a business and more to do with the fact that I needed to break away from being classified solely as a military spouse. I needed something that was my own, something that would set me apart from being Mrs. SGT Valentine. Not that I don’t love my husband dearly, I do! And I am so incredibly proud of everything he has accomplished, but, I just needed something that belonged only to me. I found that sense of individualism behind the lens of my Nikon.
As I began to grow in my craft and learn more about the art of photography I realized that this was more than a hobby to me. I wanted to reach out to people and capture their memories. I wanted to see the awe in their faces when they looked at their final images for the first time. Most importantly I wanted to know all of the things I could know about photography. So, I continued to educated myself and through the many harsh words and hurt feelings I may have received from seniors in the business, I was lucky enough to befriend many photographers and other artists that were willing to share their secrets and help me along the way. I will be forever grateful for that. Needless to say, a few years and a lot of practice later I was in business! This was amazing to me not only because I loved to do it, but also because it was my one outlet, my getaway, my sanctuary and also my busy work for those times when my husband was worlds away.
Aside from dealing with deployments, as we all do as military spouses, the one challenge that really caught me off guard was when we had to move from the area that I had established my business in. What was I going to do? How was I going to start over from scratch after all of the work I had put into growing my business here? It was discouraging to say the least. I had to remind myself at that moment that I was not only a photographer. I was the wife of a soldier, and I had duties that came before my business. So, we packed up and headed to a new area, a new life, and a new set of clients.
Today my newly rooted business is steadily growing as is my craft. I have met new photographers, worked with new clients, and most importantly, made new friends. I feel that, in a way, being affiliated with the military has helped to grow as business owner and a person. I have met more challenges than most non-military business owners would and by maintaining a positive attitude and drive I have prevailed.
I am so thankful to live in a country where women have the freedom to be whatever they aspire to be. That is a freedom I will never take for granted. I am thankful to our military that I am able to say that being a military spouse does not define me. It’s not WHAT I am. It is simply a part of WHO I am. I am a mother, a photographer, and the proud wife of U.S. Soldier. I am Amanda, and these are just a few of the things that make up who I am.