My Journey to Becoming A Photographer

Hey there! I’m Caitlyn, a portrait photographer near San Francisco, California! I thought it was time for me to introduce myself, so here it goes!

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California to Ohio and Back Again (x a million)

I was born in California, but my family moved to Ohio when I was in sixth grade.  Most of my childhood was spent in the middle of nowhere with a lot of corn fields!  When I was 17, I made what was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life.  I packed up my bags, hopped on a plane to SFO and moved in with my grandparents to get my residency for college.

I planned on going to the University of California, Santa Cruz for marine biology and didn’t want to pay out of state tuition.  I dreamed of being a dolphin trainer, like Rae on Free Willy or the people at Sea World who get to wear those cool wetsuits!

Long story short, that didn’t happen! AT ALL. 

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Instead, I fell in love with photography.

The summer after I graduated high school, I went back to Ohio.  One day while I was there, my dad told me that he didn’t understand why I wanted to be a marine biologist.  He said he couldn’t imagine me touching slimy things and doing science paper work all day!

Of course, he was right!  

I was valedictorian of my high school and had gotten straight A’s since kindergarten. I could have suffered my way through college to get a marine biology degree, but that was not where my passion was! Don’t get me wrong, dolphins are still my favorite animal.  I still think it would have been cool to spend my days with such amazing creatures.  I’ll just have to visit them any chance I get and hopefully go swimming with them, if I ever find a place that doesn’t seem inhumane.

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All of My Plans Fell Apart

In the Fall, I attended the local community college to get my general education credits done.  That is where I met some pretty amazing people (like my husband) and fell in love with photography. I took a black and white film photography class and loved it so much that I would arrive three hours early so I could print my photographs.  There was something about sliding my paper into the developer bath and watching the image appear.  It was magical, and I was hooked! I took every photography class that college offered and then transferred to San Jose State University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Photography. 

While I was going to school, I also worked at JCP Portraits where I got to learn more of the business side of the photography industry.  They taught me how to efficiently take portraits of a variety of families and how to get people to buy them!  After I graduated, I was immediately offered the assistant manager position.  It was pretty awesome and I was thrilled!  

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Dream Big

I am currently still working as the assistant manager and it is great, but I have dreams that are way bigger than what that company can handle.  I want to own a home someday and build my own portrait studio in the backyard, where my clients can come and hang out with me.   I want to take them to beautiful location spots around California (or wherever I’m living at the time).  I want to be my client’s friend and not just someone they see for an hour as they check one more thing off their to do list. 

Right now, I am working on building up my portfolio as I search for awesome location spots to take family pictures around the bay area.  I am working toward my dreams because I am the only one who can make them a reality!

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UPDATE 9/15/2019 - Almost two years after I posted this and so much has changed. I no longer live in California because we moved to Washington, but we still go down to visit fairly often!

I’ve also set those dreams in motion and quit my position as Assistant Manager at JCPenney Portraits. Now have my own photography business where I not take pictures of families, but I also help business owners by creating image banks for them to pull from when it comes time to post on social media.

Still working on saving for that dream house, but I’m sure it will happen…someday!