I’ve always loved photography and what it stands for, even before I was able to recognize it. As a young child, I would dig through my parents’ piles upon piles of photos printed from cameras before the digital world. I remember scrapbooking, cutting up photos for school projects, and even scanning and using them for slideshows to music for my parents for a birthday or Mother’s/Father’s Day gifts. I like to think I recognized the impact of a photo and the meaning it could hold. Of course, at 8 years old that was unlikely, but I definitely know this now.
At 25, I am intimately familiar with the meaning a photo can hold. I value my photos over all material objects I own. They are the only way I can see my late grandmother’s smile, the last time I danced on stage, and my parents on their wedding day. I can see what I looked like as a baby, at 10 years old, and today; all side by side. My wedding photos are what I will show my kids and their kids one day. When I am gone someday, my pictures will show my life from start to finish. A life well-lived, a young girl in love, and a world well traveled. Why wouldn’t I want to help capture this for other’s?
Photography wasn’t my dream. I went to nursing school for goodness sake! I took dance class in high school over photography because I wasn’t interested at that time in learning more. I never dreamt of being a photographer, small business owner, or working full time at 2 jobs.
There are things I did wrong when I started, more than a few things I would change if I could, but there is nothing I would change about where I am right now. I have the best jobs in the world.
Over the years, I have gained knowledge and found consistency when taking photos. My skills have improved and my customer experience has grown leaps and bounds. However, I am still just as proud of the very photo I took as I am the most recent one.
In 2017, I charged my first client for my first photo. It was a fundraiser for my nursing graduation ceremony and I took their photos for $40. And then I did another, and another… I was hooked. As a brand new nurse, and a brand new photographer, life was busy. In those first few months/years I played the game of comparison. Why don’t my photos look like that? Why didn’t I make them do this pose? What if I’m not good enough?
I could have quit, but I am way too stubborn… and so I persevered.
I invested in my business. Got registered in 2018, purchased insurance, bought educational courses, and practiced. I launched a Facebook page, and then an Instagram page, and finally, a website. I bought better gear, tried new things, and learned from every win and fail. Every time I feel like I’ve plateaued I’ve gone back to the basics. Offered free shoots and gotten creative with them. Everyone runs their business differently, and it’s taken me awhile to recognize that. At the end of the day, I run my business in a way that makes me proud.
I value my clients, their happiness, and their experience over everything else. I offer same day sneak peeks, fast turnaround when possible, and always try to make a clients “wish list shot” come to life. I do this, because I would want the same for me. I treat my clients like friends and family. I nudge myself into their life. I watch their instagram stories, wish them a happy birthday, and think of them everyday. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and if there was anything more I could do to thank them, I would.
Nursing through a pandemic has been challenging, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about closing Isabelle Buckley Photography because I am so tired (like…all the time). But ultimately, I would never give up my dream. It may not have been my dream from the start, but I hope I don’t wake up from it anytime soon.