5 Years

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Half a decade. 1825 days. 5 years. It’s absolutely insane to me that I’ve had this little business for that long! Often I don’t even feel like I’m old enough to have a company that’s 5 years old. I started Emily March Photography the summer before my senior year of college at UNC. I was sitting on the big yellow couch in my living room when I decided that this was what I wanted to do. I had tossed around the idea for months, but part of me still felt like it was crazy. Start a business?? I’m 20 years old. I don’t know the first thing about running a business! But after years of being the girl with the camera and 6 months interning for Southern Weddings, I just knew that this was it. Nothing had quite captivated the hopeless romantic in me like wedding photography. It was the perfect marriage (not apologizing for the pun) of what I loved.

So, sitting on my couch, I thought “Heck, I’ll never know if I never try.” So I did the only thing I could think of to get a client – I posted an ad on Craigslist. Yes, guys. Craigslist. The chance that I was wearing pajamas for this momentous occasion is 100%. I remember picking all my favorite pictures. Scenes of Italy from study abroad. Portraits of my friend in Paris. Snapshots of campus. And – I kid you not – 20 minutes later I got an email from a girl named Jessica asking me to photograph her wedding in the Outer Banks the following May. It was one of the fastest answers to prayer I’ve ever gotten.

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I wanted everything – my contract, licensing, business – to be legitimate. I made my first logo on Microsoft Word and built a little (awfully designed) website to show off my pictures. I met with a lawyer to draw up the paperwork to file for an LLC, and on August 18, 2011 I signed my name on the dotted line. Emily March Photography was born. The following summer I photographed Jessica and four other couple’s weddings. It still amazes me to this day that each of those couples booked me knowing that I have never shot a wedding before!

In the years that followed I poured my heart and soul into Emily March Photography. I paid my entrepreneur’s dues and worked 3 jobs at one point so that I could invest every penny my photography earned back into my business. I read books about leadership, entrepreneurship, photography and dreaming big. I did my best to exercise self-control. When I saw a lens or camera or workshop that I wanted, I saved my money, and I’m insanely proud that in 5 years, I’ve never had even $1 in debt. To this day, I think that’s one of the best things I ever did for my business. I took every wedding and session I could get my hands on and never said “no” to a single opportunity that came my way. Take head shots for my neighbor in the grassy lawn by our apartment’s parking lot? YES. I practiced, practiced, practiced. When I couldn’t ever get an engagement ring in focus, I spent an hour in my driveway photographing one of my rings until I finally got the picture I wanted. I battled intense discontentment at times and struggled with comparison. I started sharing my monthly goals to hold myself accountable, and with time I was able to check those goals off one by one. Then, one day in April of 2014, I checked off one of my biggest – go full time with my business. Brendan knows firsthand how much we wrested with that decision and its risks, but I can say with purest confidence that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The first two months after I quit my other job were two of the highest grossing months my business has ever seen, and I’m sure that was the Lord’s way of saying “See! I told you it would be fine!”

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Fast forward to today and I can see that this business has given me so much more than I ever imagined. There are people I would have never met and experiences that I would have never had if this business didn’t exist. It’s fun looking at these behind the scenes pictures (nearly all of them cell phone pictures, naturally) and recalling all the stories and people (most notably Morgan and Tiffany) that were a part of them. I almost cried from happiness when a couple brought their new puppy to their wedding. I was actually a part of the greatest reception entrance I’ve had a couple do – I was on the pontoon with them as the sailed up to a cheering crowd of family and friends! Yes, it was awesome.

There are things I’ve learned that I would have probably never thought about if I didn’t start this business. I know WAY more about small business tax code and write offs than I honestly care to know. I know how to manage a team and lead them in a way the gets the job done and allows them to have fun while doing so. I’ve learned how to stand my ground, fight for what is best for my business and couples and not allow what other people are doing or think dictate my direction. I learned how to take a leap of faith and trust that my hard work would pay off and that the Lord would provide for us. I’ve learned to shoot in a medium that many people don’t even realize still exists. Being a small business owner has allowed me to take on so many different roles besides photographer. I’ve filled the shoes of marketer, social media manager, accountant, negotiator, bookkeeper, coder, and designer. And, if I’m being honest, when I started 5 years ago, I had NO CLUE I’d have to own those titles at one time or another.

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It’s amazing to me just how much this decision has changed my life. Yes, it gave me a job I love, and I’ve met amazing people along the way, but Brendan always says one of the first things that made him want to get to know me was that I owned a business. I’m sure my witty charm and unparalleled good looks would have caught him anyway ;) but I love knowing that this business played even the tiniest role in our story. It’s been an incredible blessing for our marriage since then, giving me full control of my schedule to be flexible for him and providing an income that sustained us perfectly through medical school.

And truly, I never could have done this without him. Sure, I started this business on my own, but he has supported me in every way possible since day one. From second shooting (even when it was very inconvenient for him) to looking through the scans from a recent shoot as I gush over them to hearing out all my ideas. He’s held me accountable and challenged me when I was being lazy. He’s been my #1 fan who snaps me out of any insecurity or doubt, bolsters my confidence and encourages me to chase after my goals.

Photo by Emily March Photography // www.emilymarchphotography.com

So, cheers to 5 years! I’m grateful for every single one of them and even more grateful for the people who made them possible. I’m grateful for the countless couples I’ve had the privilege to photograph and get to know. I’m grateful for the rich community of photographers I’ve called friends, who have helped me in a pinch, given great advice and have taught me how to be the best photographer I can be. I’m grateful for my parents who didn’t scoff when I told them as a college senior that I’d rather start a business than get a normal job or go to grad school like everyone else. And, most importantly, I’m grateful that the Lord not only gave me this talent, but also gave me my dream job. Photography has always been one of my greatest passions, but to see it become so much more than that is truly one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given.

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Emily is a destination film wedding photographer. She loves natural light and is available to travel worldwide.

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August 18, 2016 - 1:24 pm

Beth - Congrats, Em – this is awesome! Cheering you on from the East Coast :)

August 18, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Abby - I just got so weirdly emotional reading this! Love ya and your awesome business!

The Painted Desert

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Almost two months ago, Brendan and I embarked on one of the most exciting adventures of our marriage so far – driving 3400 miles across the country to move to California. I’ve already shared pictures from our day at the Grand Canyon, but today I’m sharing images from another favorite day. While planning for our road trip, I wanted to stop at as many National Parks as possible. The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest were just across the Arizona border and were the first parks we visited. I had originally only budgeted a few couple hours for our stop thinking that we’d take in some pretty views and look at the old trees-turned-rocks. Man, was I wrong!

The Painted Desert is without a doubt one of the most incredible places I’ve seen with my own two eyes. Miles of red desert speckled with cacti, agave and desert flowers. It seemed like the more we drove through the park, the more amazed we became that so much varied landscape could be in one area. One minute you’re looking over multicolored hills and valleys, and the next you’re looking as far as the horizon goes. The best part? The National Parks Association encourages you to go off the beaten path! If you’ve ever been to a state or national park, you know that this is not a normal thing. Typically, there are signs everywhere warning you of danger or requiring you to stay on the path, but here they wanted us to make our own way and explore the landscape for ourselves.

This was one of my favorite stops on our trip and I hope these pictures encourage you to visit this amazing place sometime! I’ll be sharing more film from our trip, but you can catch highlights on Instagram and in this little video I made a while back :)

Film Processing: PhotoVision

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Emily is a destination film wedding photographer. She loves natural light and is available to travel worldwide.

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Taylor + Mitchell | Charleston Film Wedding

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The first time I met Taylor and Mitchell was on a chilly Seattle evening. Brendan and I were in town for an interview, and, knowing that these two lived in the city, I jumped at the chance to finally meet them and take their engagement pictures in such a beautiful place. One of my favorite things about my job is the amazing people I get to meet and befriend – it’s part of why you’ll never hear me refer to my couples as “clients.” I truly don’t feel that way about them, and these two are no exception. 

Taylor and Mitchell were instant friends. Their easy-going nature and passion is infectious and anyone that knows them will attest to just how fun they are. Their Charleston wedding was a perfect reflection of who they are and what they believe. The gathering was intimate, the setting natural, the decor organic.  And their faith was the heartbeat that carried everything through the day. Despite being in Charleston, we had Seattle weather – overcast and misty. But just before they started to share their vows, the sun came out. It’d say that’s a pretty good sign :)

It was one of the most visually and emotionally beautiful weddings I’ve been a part of, and I’m so grateful that I got to photograph it! Taylor and Mitchell I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to be a part of your day! Come visit us in SF, ok??

I’m so excited to have this wedding featured on Belle Lumiere in the coming weeks – keep your eyes peeled!

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Photography: Emily March Photography | Venue: Old Towne Creek County Park | Event Coordination, Florals, Rentals and Cake: Duvall Events | Bride’s Dress: Katie May | Hair and Makeup: Pink Dot Beauty Bar | Bride’s Shoes: Madewell | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lulu’s | Groom and Groomsmen’s Suits: Men’s Warehouse | Film Processing: PhotoVision

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Emily is a destination film wedding photographer. She loves natural light and is available to travel worldwide.

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August 9, 2016 - 9:30 pm

Shannon Weynand - That adorable, sweet (CALM?!?) dog. I am in love.

August Goals

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We are already halfway through this year and I can hardly believe it! The first six months of 2016 were big and exciting, filled with lots of adventure, change, traveling and transition. Surprising, July was a much slower and steadier month. We began calling Santa Rosa home, created some new routines and learned how to get to the grocery store without using Google Maps. We adventured around our new turf, but spent some much-needed time at home while Brendan was on one of his busiest cycles of the year – OB. He delivered 12 babies last month!

Anyway, August is shaping up to reflect more of the year’s first half with lots of traveling, visitors and adventures. Here are a few of the things I’ve got on the docket this month!

No. 1 Explore beautiful wine country and San Francisco with our families! My parents are here this week and Brendan’s brother and sister-in-law will be visiting later this month. I am SO excited to show them our beautiful home and all the things we love about living in California. You know the trip planner in me is just the happiest.

No. 2 Shoot a gorgeous styled wedding at a vineyard! Guys. I am SO excited about this shoot! I won’t say much to keep it under wraps, but I’ve been using the praise hands emoji a LOT when describing it.

No. 3 Unveil my brand refresh! I love this little website, but a lot has changed since I built it a few years ago, so I’m in the process of giving it a little update and refreshing its look a bit. It’s so beautiful and I can’t wait to have it live in (hopefully) a few short weeks!

No. 4 Celebrate 5 years as a business owner! Can’t believe it’s be almost half a decade since I signed the paperwork that made Emily March Photography a reality. Isn’t that crazy??

No. 5 Continue to get plugged into our community and our church here in Santa Rosa. I LOVE living here – it’s truly been a really easy transition all things considered and we just love the people we’ve gotten to know. God has certainly been good at providing a wonderful community for us early on out here and we’re excited to get to know people better.

No. 6 Spend a week back in North Carolina for a couple weddings I’m shooting! Obviously, Merritt’s BLTs will be my first order of business once I’m back in Chapel Hill :)

And July according to my Instagram! Reveled in living so close to San Francisco, made our little house a cozy home, reviewed some of my old work for the updated galleries for my new site and explored some lovely historic gardens here in Santa Rosa! 

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Emily is a destination film wedding photographer. She loves natural light and is available to travel worldwide.

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