Going full time!

Today is day two of our awesome extravaganza giveaway week. We are going to sharing a lot of fun things with you this week.  But our big thing today is that we have a major announcement. Laura.. take it away..

Full time!!!

We are going full-time! We’re really excited about it.. And a little nervous. It’s terrifying. Completely terrifying. I feel like I’m going to be very emotional this week.

It’s mostly strange because most people who are in the wedding industry who have decided to go full-time. Most people who are entrepreneurs.. or people to start a new business.  They hated their job before they started it.

It’s like a group of people who left their cubicle.  All the movies and TV shows you see were people are like I just hated my 9 to 5. I had to get out of it.

So I started this wonderful business.

I am like the opposite of that.  I have been a teacher for the last nine years. And I love being a teacher. It is something that brings me a lot of fulfillment. So I am not the story of I am leaving my horrible cubicle job to fulfill my ambitions.

Michael + photography

Michael on the other hand graduated in photography. So he has always wanted to be a photographer. Not necessarily a wedding photographer.  In fact I think when he graduated from VCU with his photography degree he thought he was going to go be a starving artist. He was going to go live the art life.

It was only because a friend of mine who I worked with at the time was getting married and asked me to shoot their wedding.  And that’s when Laura found out about it and asked “hey can I come.” And I was like I don’t think I can just bring extra people. 

And I was like na-uh there is no bride on earth who doesn’t want extra photographers on her wedding day.

So he asked the bride. This wonderful couple who trusted us to shoot their wedding for the first time. She of course said yes. So I went. I was obsessed with weddings at the time.

It was sort of around the time we were getting engaged. I was obsessed with wedding photography and wedding blogs. You know, I was that girl.  My Pinterest board was full. With Pinterest around? Yeah, Pinterest was around.

The only thing I ever wanted to be..

So anyways for the last nine years I have been living the sort of dual identity. Being a photographer on the side while filling this lifelong ambition of being a teacher.

It has been a really weird decision to try decide to go full-time but here we are.

Your passion for teaching started at a young age right? It was like in second grade?

Yes! My second grade teacher, Mrs. Donlavey.  She is an insanely wonderful person. She just took such a genuine interest in all of her students. Especially me. Because I had decided I wanted to be a teacher I was like that girl.. When she left to go to the bathroom (which is crazy that teachers were allowed to do that back then. They just left the room! And put a kid in charge which is hysterical!!!) But I was always the kid who stood at the board and wrote down the bad kids names.  So they got in trouble when she got back.

If any of you watch New Girl just kind of picture that..



So in second grade I decided this is it. This is what I wanna do. There were three things about teachers that just fit what I wanted to do. And the three things were..

  1. I wanted to write on a chalkboard.
  2. I wanted to be able to have the same schedule as my kids.  (which is hysterical that second grade me thought about being a mom.)
  3. I wanted to be just like Mrs. Donlavey. I wanted to be able to breathe life into other people. I wanted to support other kids and make them feel good.

So I have been working towards those three things since I was in second grade. I took any class I could that had anything to do with teaching. I did all the practicums and work experiences and volunteer hours and as many classrooms as I could including going back to Mrs. Donlavey’s class several times.

The career I had always dreamed of.. and the one that fell into my lap

And I did it. I got my Masters in teaching. And then I spent nine years in the classroom. 

But then right as I was starting this career that I worked so hard for, I also started wedding photography with Michael.

So it was just this weird balance of finally getting to the point of where I had always wanted to be of being an educator and then also finding this new passion and this new thing I really loved doing.. which was wedding photography.

So throughout the years just more and more amazing people have come into our life through wedding photography. It has brought so much joy to us throughout the years.

And now that Niles has come into the picture I realized I couldn’t really be living these dual personalities any more with a third identity of “mom”. So something had to go.

So we decided that would be teaching. And I would go full-time with wedding photography.

After reading a lot of different books about the subject, pursuing your dreams and making career changes.  Shout out to Bob Goff

You know I’m reading that Bob Goff book. Dream Big. (more about Bob

Actually in his book I just read the chapter where it says “who says we have to have one career our whole life?” Just because I thought our parents did. They got a job out of college and they were in that career until they retired. That isn’t what your life has to be. And that was just really inspiring to me. 

He said if you were identifying yourself as your career.. If that is where your identity is.. And a bad day can be devastation for you. It’s not just a bad day it’s an identity crisis. We don’t want to be identifying ourselves through our career.

You are not your career

But what I have found my identity is, is those 3 core things. Maybe not the chalkboard thing.

We do have chalkboard paint in our basement so maybe a little bit of the chalkboard thing.. But here’s the thing chalkboards don’t even exist in schools anymore. They are probably more used for weddings and DIY’s.  My very first teaching job – whiteboards. Don’t even have whiteboards, you have smart boards now.

But those other two things remain important to me. I wanted to be able to be a mom, and have a schedule that allows me to spend as much time with my kids as possible. And I wanted to be able to do things that could breathe life into other people.

And I feel like wedding photography will allow me to do both of those things. I said that’s where we made a decision to go full-time.

Serving others through photography

In the beginning of our photography career we decided that that was one of the main reasons we wanted to be in wedding photography. Be able to make an impression on other people and bless them through their wedding process and beyond and into their marriage.  It’s actually one of our ‘why’s” in our business – we want people to have more than just happy weddings, we want them to have happy marriages.

We want to be there for our couples and support them pass just the wedding. And we believe that the photos that we are taking, the joyful moments that we are so lucky to capture, or something that can be used later on for when times do get tough. 

We have our wedding album that sits out in our living room, that we open quite frequently to look through our wedding photos.

And this is one of the things that we talked back-and-forth about a ton with me going full-time and deciding to leave teaching. I had such a hard time. This internal struggle between wanting to do photography and knowing this is something I’m really passionate about and some thing that I think would be really good for our family I’m leaving a career that I know every single day you can see this really clear and visible life change for a child.

It was really hard for me to think about not doing that. It felt really selfish. We had a lot of back-and-forth and decided that just because I wouldn’t be in the classroom anymore doesn’t mean that we couldn’t do things that would be impactful for other peoples’ lives. That was a big hurdle for us.

We know and we are very confident in the fact that photography is something we can use to serve and love other people through.

looking back

And as a husband of a teacher I can tell you.. There are some amazing stories that come out of the teaching profession.

I thought you were gonna say that as a husband as a teacher you have seen all the stressors and pain.

True you do see a lot of stressors.. No I’m glad you went positive.

Yeah I have so many stories. We could be here all day.

I would say that my very favorite moment was my very first lesson within student teaching. I worked with one of the most fantastic cooperating teachers.  He’s a huge reason why I feel like I was a successful of a teacher as I was.

In that class there was a little boy and his name was Bryan. Brian is a genius. Brian is probably off somewhere building a rocket to go to Mars.

My cooperating teacher let me start up with something easy. She just told me to read these first graders a book.  I’m reading this book and in the background of one of the pictures there was a rainbow. And a kid raises his hand and says “hey Miss Downing, how come there are rainbows?”

And I’m just like oh my gosh. My first encounter as a teacher trying to answer question is having to dumb down the concept of rainbows to a first grader. A six year old.

And as I am trying to get my thoughts together Bryan raises his hand and goes “Ms. Downing I got this.”

I say “OK Bryan go ahead”.

He says.. “So when it rains, the light reflects through the water droplets creating a prism in the sky where you can see all the colors of the rainbow.”

So grateful!

I have about a million fantastic stories of the kids that I have worked with and the people I have worked with who have been so wonderful.

I worked in three different schools, in two different districts. Then we also spent a year where I taught in Kenya at a children’s home. READ MORE HERE.

It has been a wild ride. I’m certainly not saying I will never return to teaching. It has been something in my life that I have worked really hard towards and that I really care about. For now and where we are in our life and what I feel like is best for our family. It’s just right to take a step back from that and go full-time with wedding photography.

teacher giveaway graphic post your wishlist

Teaching giveaway

Go to go along with that we decided to do a giveaway for teachers. Where teachers can post their wish list on Amazon an item that they want or teachers pay teachers link or donors choose.

I don’t want to gloss over the fact that teaching is a very difficult career.  It takes so much out of you. I have so much respect for people who are in the teacher career and stick with it. Especially this year.

It’s definitely very scary deciding to go full-time in a career where most events over 10 people are being rescheduled. Either way is kind of an Uh-Oh a sort of path.

I definitely want to be able to continue helping with schools and classrooms and kids in our area.  Also with teachers. So we wanted to be able to do a giveaway supported those people who are working so hard. Yes you can go to our Instagram today and all week and drop in your Amazon wish list or whatever it is. We are just going to support a few of our followers that are teachers this week by fulfilling some of those wishlist items.

If you are not a teacher and would like to be able to help out, please go look at those links and sell some wish list items on your own if you’re able.

We will have more giveaways throughout the week to celebrate going full-time. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive. It is a very scary time but it is something we feel confident in. So we are just thankful for the people in our life who are building us up right now. If you are one of them we just really appreciate you and are so thankful.


Teaching in chesterfield virginia dress up day

note from students that laura taught in her nine years as a teacher

going full time after teaching for nine years teaching in juja kenya at an orphanage in 2015 going full time photography teaching in juja nairobi kenya at an orphanage in 2015 going full time photography

  1. […] of the biggest things that happened this year is that Laura went full-time. It’s crazy that we’ve both been able to be at home for Niles’ first full year of […]

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