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Meet Heather Etheridge of Heather Etheridge Photography in Atlanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Etheridge.

Heather, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Photography is something I’ve enjoyed for years. Whether it was taking five disposable cameras with me to summer camp in middle school or bringing my digital point-and-shoot with me EVERYWHERE in college, I’ve always loved the ability photography has a capture a moment in time & the feelings that looking back at old photos can evoke. Whether it is a photo from the night before or ten years prior, it can take you right back to that moment, as if you’re there, living it all over again.

In early 2015, I decided that photography was something I really wanted to pursue. I looked at purchasing a camera & shadowed my friend Karen during one of her engagement shoots, but the timing felt off. I had recently started a new job & even more recently gotten engaged & knew the next year of my life would be mostly dedicated to wedding planning. Maybe next year was my answer for two years.

In late 2016, I married the most incredible man & it was looking like maybe things would calm down now that the wedding was over…right? Wrong. We bought & closed on a house a week after we got home from our honeymoon in Thailand. And not just a move-in ready home — a major (as in, gutting the entire house & starting fresh) renovation we were both so excited about taking on — but again, it looked like photography would be pushed back until life calmed down.

Over Christmas, on a whim, I bought a camera & created a business plan. I didn’t really know where to start but I made the leap & man did it feel good. You know that feeling of “what did I just do?” after you make a big purchase? That feeling was completely absent — I knew this was a good thing. I vowed to never shoot on “Auto” mode, so I spent the rest of my Christmas vacation You Tubing instructional videos & shooting everything in sight.

After the initial excitement of my purchase died down was when I felt really lost. Where do I go from here? What’s the next step? I was in a rut & my camera sat in the box for about a week with no use. My husband (I could talk about how great he is all day) knew how discouraged I was & one day told me to just get out of the house & go shoot. So I did. I went to a park by myself & took pictures & all of the initial excitement came rushing back. From that day on, I shot almost every day & dove head first into photography. Whether it was asking friends to model for me or shooting landscapes, I saw myself improving with every single shoot.

In mid-January, I began an 8-week digital photography course at Emory that taught me so much, but mostly how to shoot technically correct photos. Throughout the course (& all of my practice sessions with friends), I knew I needed a place to showcase my work so I created a website & once I felt like I had a decent amount of work to display, I officially “launched” my business online. My launch date was January 29 — about a month after I had purchased my camera. Crazy. (Shout out to my AMAZING friends who went above & beyond to promote my work + my website).

The next morning, I woke up to an inquiry someone had sent via my website about a head shot session. Someone wanted to PAY me to take their photos! I had only been doing this a month! I was blown away & immediately started crying happy tears. On the day of the shoot, I was nervous but so confident & READY. The shoot came & went, & since then, I’ve had a steady flow of bookings — even booking my first wedding for this September!

I am truly astonished at how things have worked out every single day. My initial business plan looked like this:
– January-March: learn camera, take classes, etc.
– April-August: build portfolio
– September-December: begin charging for sessions

My business didn’t exactly follow my plans & I’ve been off-roading ever since.

I still have so, so much to learn & feel like I probably always will, but I’m having so much fun doing it. I feel so incredibly fulfilled working with people, making them feel beautiful & seeing how happy & excited they are about the result.

Has it been a smooth road?
Somewhat smooth, but plenty of challenges (mostly me getting in the way of myself).

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Heather Etheridge Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I specialize in lifestyle & natural light photography & engagement / wedding photography is what I’m striving to focus on. I’m incredibly passionate about what I do & the people I serve & promise to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to my clients & their sessions to ensure they are 100% satisfied with the final images.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There will always be trends in photography — right now moody, dark images are what’s “in”, but as a photographer I think it’s important to stay true to the style you like without focusing too much on what’s trendy and / or what others are doing. I appreciate trends & always want to push myself to try new things, but I think sticking to your brand & what you love is so important.

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