What makes you, you behind the camera?

please note: I resurrected this article I wrote back in 2012

I taught myself how to snowboard (after years of skiing) when I was 23 years old. I was out of college and living in the Adirondack's (of Upstate NY) so I learned on the steepest in the East, Whiteface aka Iceface Mtn.  It is hands down the most courageous thing I have done besides bowing out of Corporate America.

Learning how to snowboard took many seasons of getting the $h!t kicked out of me…and learning... here's how it all went down.


All I could do was fall… if you're not falling you're not learning…fall fall fall…. Fall 15 times get up 16 times was my motto for life at that point. I really didn't mind because I was determined and focused to achieve my goal.

Before I sent myself plummeting down the mountain I wore thick volleyball kneepads on my knees (under my snow pants), wrist guards (def. still wear those) and tons of padding on my butt.  Helmets were too expensive so I did without (bad idea). One night, after a few days of snowboarding relentlessly, I had one of those funky dreams where you actually feel what you're going through physically. I felt the way I was supposed to stand on the board, I felt what it was supposed to feel like to race down the mountain, without ever having done it. It was probably the most incredible yet odd dream I've ever had. Anyway, it worked and after that point I could link my turns and stay up for almost the entire run. Every little achievement was all I needed to keep me going (and to suck it up when I got the wind knocked out of me for the 5th time). Ouch!

I smartened up and got a helmet after a severe concussion that put me in the hospital not once, but twice.

This was also the same time in my life when I picked up my first DSLR, a brand new Nikon D200! I worked weekends as a photography assistant turned second shooter. 


In my head I was pretty good by now...I kept up with seasoned skiers and killed it in the Glades. *I upgraded my equipment and that made a huge difference because I was finally on a woman's board and it was *almost my size, bonus! (yes, I was on a mans board that was way too big).

This season was when I shot my very first solo wedding, which happened to be a snowboarding wedding (coincidence? I think not) at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville, NY. The bride and groom got married in the lodge and afterwards, still dressed in wedding gear, took it to the mountain! Thus plummeting me into booking my own weddings (and not just working as a second shooter). This was a huge turning point in my photography (and snowboarding) career. 


I was introduced to the man of my dreams on the slopes at Jay Peak Vermont! Because of learning how to snowboard and having 2 seasons under my belt, I was in a position where I could impress the boys, haha. But seriously, if I wasn't comfortable snowboarding and loving it, I definitely wouldn't have paid all that money to drive from Albany, NY to Jay, VT and thus wouldn't have had the pleasure of getting to know Justin.

Naturally, an aggressive progression took place while I was trying to show off and I signed up for as many ski trips as I could. I also got promoted at my corporate job and was moved to Boston, booya!

My photography also progressed naturally as I ran around this brand new city (to me) shooting everything and anything. I started shooting events and getting more connected to the social scene. 


My first time shredding out West and holy cats batman!!! They were right, if you can ski the East you can pretty much ski anything. I learned that all of my hard work on the icy slopes of the East Coast paid off. I was flying past most of the other riders on the mountains, which naturally felt incredible! I had never experienced powder that weightless and deep. The feeling was really that of surfing across air.

My hard work and dedication to snowboarding was paying off in a big way...

Because of the life lessons that snowboarding taught me over the years, I was confident about jumping ship on my corporate job and committing to the double black diamond of going full time with wedding photography. 2011 was when I cut the cord with my corporate gig and jumped into a fully booked wedding season, and never looked back. 


When I wrote this back in 2012 I had just gotten 2 beautiful new/used v-rocker decks that are funky and fresh. Although I haven't skied fresh powder all season, I did get to ski out west on the ice (during pre-season). It's probably a good thing because before my wedding all I could think about was me walking down the aisle in an upper body cast (think rookie of the year). 

I had just completed my first full year of weddings and was happily exhausted! What a success. 


I find great similarities in building and running a successful brand on my own & my experience of learning how to snowboard. Like any new business owner I know I'm going to fall, but there is no doubt I'm going to get right back up… I'm comfortable knowing that it's ok to make mistakes because I've learned {physically} first hand that making mistakes leads me to new ideas which sets me apart from most of the world… and your traditional wedding photographer!

Learning to snowboard gave me such a confidence boost too. You know the jitters you get before shooting a wedding? I would relate them to the same jitters I'd get when I was about to take a super steep, icy and narrow slope... it's all about commitment and confidence. Knowing that you have learned so much up to this point, telling yourself that you know what you're doing and executing the best way you know how. 


In my 5th season I was also picked up by Nokia as an ambassador at the Burton U.S. Open. I received a VIP all access pass, free condo, food & booze for the weekend, a free phone and a bag full of free Burton goodies! It was such an awesome experience that was very unique to my situation. Hard work pays off, follow your heart!