Although they’re not all shared, we all have a story. So here i am, 1 of the billion sharing mine with you.

Growing Up

To think that I would be photographing for a college sports team as a student is something I had never imagined. I didn’t grow up in a big city or small town like basically every other kid, the farm is where I had always been my whole life until college. I didn’t have my best friend down the block to go and play with every day. Instead I just had my younger sisters, and oh boy did I love that (eye roll). You know how the whole love/hate situation goes with siblings. I also had my cousins who lived a mile away, but I didn’t see them all that often either. We could get bored from time to time, so we’d have to get pretty creative to make our own fun. Throughout my childhood, my summers were spent in Kansas, Colorado, or back home, in the field harvesting. It was basically eat, sleep, harvest, repeat. (I’m not even joking.) It was something that I liked to do, but it ended up being my least favorite thing throughout the years. I just had to go along with it because I didn’t have a choice as a kid obviously. I think one of the major factors that turned me away from the farm was my asthma + allergies. I'm basically allergic to everything I came in contact with on the farm. Dogs? Yup. Cats? Yeah. Wheat dust? Yep. I’d get to the field and almost instantly feel like I was going to die. I suffered so much from it which was not fun at all. So yeah, not ideal at all for a farm kid. I started to get away from harvesting when I was in middle school, because I was in volleyball and started going to all these camps and open gyms. I stopped going on the harvest run and got to stay back with my grandma which was a lot more enjoyable. I was able to drive too, which gave me more freedom to do things with friends and find myself and the things that I liked to do. If you would have just met, you would’ve never thought I grew up on a farm. Just ask my sisters, they would say that I belong in a big city. I’m the black sheep in my family.

Finding my Passion

Like mostly every mom has, I picked up her little Canon starter and started to play around with it from time to time. Since I wasn’t doing much on the farm, photography is what I found myself doing in my spare time. I was also super, super shy as a kid, so I think I enjoyed spending most of my time with a camera in my hands because I didn’t need to have anyone else around me. Name a better duo than that. I loved the ability to be able to create a photograph of something we all can see, but just capture it through my own creative eye in a different way. I obviously had no idea what I was really doing, but I loved it which is all that mattered.

I was in 4-H growing up, which is where I had my first opportunity to showcase my photography. Every year I looked forward to our local 4-H days to submit my photographs and have them judged with feedback. I remember doing fairly well throughout all of those years, with all purples and few blues which made me pretty happy with myself. I was one of the 12 photographs from the state fair get selected to be put into the calendar too, which I was really proud of. So from time to time I would photograph various things, such as the sheep, our dogs, basically anything I could find on the farm.

High school came around, and I became busy as an athlete and balancing school at the same time. This left little room for my own personal photography, so I decided to join journalism class in school, allowing myself more time to keep it incorporated in my life. I probably ended up spending half my time with the camera in my hands while I was in school. I was taking photos of things on the daily such as classes, people, and sporting events. If you know me now, you probably know me for my sports photography, and I’ll get into that later.

I started to spend my free time educating myself on photography and learning all of the settings to become a better photographer. I’m still learning things every day each time I pick up my camera. Trust me, there’s more to it than just pressing the shutter button.

I eventually found my favorite types of photography: portrait + sports. I had started taking photos of my friends for practice and when a it was a game day for a sport I wasn’t in, I photographed that. I love how creative you are allowed to be with portrait photography and when I saw my friends reactions to the photos of themselves, I instantly knew that portraits were one of the types of photography I wanted to continue. I fell in love with capturing sports because you never know what to expect through the game plays and there’s SO MUCH emotion which I think is one of the most important things to capture. As a photographer, I also think that it’s important to capture as much of the behind the scenes that spectators don’t catch. These moments piece together so many parts of the whole game and tell the story. In the spring of my senior year of high school, I decided to officially register my business with the state so I could start photographing senior photos. I took my cousin Jace’s senior photos the summer going into our senior year which was good for experience before I started taking senior photos after I graduated. I also stepped out of my bubble my senior year and became a lot more social, so I spent my summer before college hanging out with friends, playing club volleyball, and enjoying all the other little things before I had to leave for college.

A New Beginning

Before I start this, I’ll explain a little bit about my decision for college. Before I committed to a college, I had the opportunity to go on and play college volleyball. It was a very hard decision for me to make, but I decided to decline my offer. I made the decision to do so because I knew that I couldn’t play volleyball forever, and I wanted to be able to focus on my school. I also wanted the opportunity to grow my business and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do that as a student-athlete. So overall I’m happy with the decision I ended up making because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I took the other path.

So, my first year of college, fall 2021. I’m an advertising major with minors in digital & social media, entrepreneurial studies, and public relations. Freshman fear? Nah, not for me surprisingly. I will say that I am a pretty independent person and don’t mind change at all, so I was able to adjust to the college life pretty well. I liked the freedom to do whatever I want and explore new things. (Not saying that my mom was strict, but she just didn’t let me do everything I wanted to like my other friends did, LOL.) Brookings is just a short 2-hour drive home, but I didn’t go home all too often unless it was for one of my sisters’ games or a holiday. I enjoyed spending the weekends with time to myself. I enjoyed my classes, spending a lot of time at the wellness center playing volleyball and working out, staying on top of my wellness, and hanging out with my roommate and other friends. There was just one problem...

How was I going to continue my photography if I knew no one else in this new place? It’s like moving to a new city, right? You have a new job, have to find new friends, and adjust your whole life to something completely unfamiliar. I reached out to one of my professors from my basic media writing class at the time and asked if there was any way I could get involved to take photos for a purpose. He told me that I should attend a Collegian meeting and talk to one of the individuals involved there. (The Collegian is the student ran newspaper on campus.) So that is just what I did, showed them my past work, and then I obtained my very first media pass for all collegiate athletic events at SDSU to photograph for The Collegian. The first step I took to get my foot in the door. I photographed every football and mens’ basketball game and used those images for the weekly paper. When my images were published in the paper, my name was credited and I also got something like $20/per image used, so that was a nice little income on the side since I didn’t have a job. I also created an Instagram account for my photography where I could post the photos from each game and tag the athletes as well. This really helped me get my name out there when the athletes would share my posts to their instagram stories and when they posted my photos and tagged me. So if you’re one of those athletes, THANK YOU SO MUCH because you have really have helped me get to where I am now.

At the end of my freshman year, I was contacted by the athletic department to take photos for one of the women's basketball games at home and be paid for it. PAID?! I was like heck yeah. They had told me that they had seen my photos in the newspaper and throughout social media, so they wanted to hire me for a game since they loved my work. I did that, and then they offered me to become the athletic departments student photographer for the next year (my sophomore year). So I accepted that, photographing all the football, basketball, soccer, track meets, and a few baseball and softball games. It wasn’t a paid position which really sucked for the amount of work I put in, but it was great experience and opportunity.

Sophomore year was rough for me due to multiple reasons I’m not going to go in depth with. I wasn’t able to focus on school. My grades weren’t the best. I had a terrible sleep schedule because I would go and play volleyball with my friends or workout late at night at the wellness center. I’m also very outgoing and liked to go out and party with friends on the weekends, but that was my social life because it was really the only time I could fit it in. It was something that I liked to do and I didn’t wanna give up on my friends. I also spent the nights editing photos after games at night that were needed for the athletic department ASAP which kept me up as well. I was also involved in advertising club and other miscellaneous things that just threw me off balance overall. I loved what I was doing, but wow, I could barely keep up with my own life at that point. I just felt like I needed to get everything done perfectly and on time because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I felt pressured because I didn’t want to make mistakes and I wanted to be on the good side of everyone. I didn’t want to be a let down. Balancing every little thing I had going on in my life, was something I didn’t think I could do at the time and I felt like I was at the end point of where I wanted to give up because I wasn’t enjoying college at that point. I wasn’t taking care of myself and wellbeing. No one would have known because I was hiding it and I tried to make it look like everything was as normal as possible. But I pushed through and finished my sophomore year.

I forgot to mention that I spent my summer of ’22 at home doing work on and off for a volleyball program based out of Sioux Falls, SD, where I photographed various events they put on and assisted with digital and social media. I was doing a lot of traveling throughout that summer to take photos. With the rest of my time, I spent it with family and friends back home and taking senior photos.

Just this past summer I stayed in Brookings after I completed my sophomore year and moved into an apartment with my best friend from high school because I landed an internship with Gameday Social. It’s a clothing brand that makes collegiate apparel and was established in Brookings by the one and only, amazing girl boss Jael Thorpe. I did ghost mannequin photography there. That same summer, I spent it taking senior photos and even my first wedding. The thought kept popping in and out of mind head to transfer to a different college also. I had just kept thinking about the past year and a half and how hard it was for me, I just wanted a new start. The University of Texas was my option. For spring break during my sophomore year, I went to Austin, TX, with my little sister, Lilly, and my Grandma Rita to visit family. I absolutely loved it, so that’s why I chose UT as my transfer spot. I wanted a fresh start in a new city that I absolutely love, so why not take the chance because you’re only in college once. I had family there, so at leastI knew someone there. It’s not like I was going to be completely alone. I didn’t tell anyone about the idea of transferring though because I ended up deciding that I just couldn’t leave yet. I knew that I had something for myself here even if I couldn’t see straight through it yet.

Later in the summer, I received an email from the operations manager for the SDSU football team asking if I wanted to join and take photos for the football team. I was ecstatic and obviously accepted because this was something that I’ve looked at doing the past two years. So summer ended, school started, and I got back into the swing of things. My sister (a freshman) and I decided to join the women’s club volleyball team this year. We haven’t played with each other since high school, so we thought that we would give it a try to give ourselves something to do. It’s been a fun ride so far. Going to Frisco, TX, with the football team for the national championship was definitely an experience. It’s something I’m very fortunate for and it has helped me network too. Since I photograph for the mens basketball team too, I was able to photograph the summit league tournament where the mens team won. I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty cool getting to hold multiple trophies.

And Now...

So here I am, five hours later, ending my little story of where I came from and how I ended up here. If anyone even cares (LOL).

I’m growing my business, continuing to learn through my studies in school, and bettering myself because every day counts. I know that I have a support system from my family and friends and always will. From day one I've had a supportive family and I know that they are there for everything. Plus, my boyfriend Gavin, there for me through thick & thin and holding on to my hand through it all. And now, I’m so proud of where I’ve gotten myself and I’m excited to see what my future holds down the road.