CELEBRATING 5 YEARS
AS A FULL TIME PHOTOGRAPHER 2018
(FASHION + COMMERCIAL + WEDDINGS)
10 QUESTIONS ABOUT KENDAL’S JOURNEY!
1. When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a camera in my hand–I was the girl who brought my camera everywhere and captured every single moment of my youth and adult years–from disposable cameras, to point and shoot, to manual mode and DSLR–my highschool friends use to poke fun at me saying “2-flashes–2 flashes” every time we posed for a photo (I mean you have to have the red-eye reduction turned on while using those old school point and shoot cameras–so 2 flashes was mandatory and I reminded my friends of the “2-flash rule” with every photo taken so they wouldn’t ruin it by moving!) Truly, I always wanted to be a photographer, but I didn’t think I could actually make a living doing it full time. When starting college, photography wasn’t even on my radar; I majored in Graphic Communications (Business + Graphic Design) and minored in interior design (I am sure this doesn’t surprise you if you have seen my apartment!!). It wasn’t until I studied abroad for a semester in Florence Italy, during my Junior year, that I took my first B+W film photography class. I was living a dream, traveling around Europe, photographing every beautiful scenery I laid my eyes on. Throughout the semester my focus was on landscape photography, I LOVE LANDSCAPES–while in Paris I found myself photographing people on the street, lifestyle and candids–when I developed my film the professor said to me, “I know you love landscape photography, but you are not a landscape photographer, you are a PEOPLE photographer. You have a real gift, you are disarming and charming and have an amazing way with people.” That was when the ‘Light Switch’ turned on to photograph people for a living, and I have NEVER been able to turn it off!
2. What did you do before you became a photographer?
Before being a full time photographer, I was a full time apparel graphic designer in the Surf Industry–I worked for Billabong for nearly 4 years and O’Neill for 4 years. You could say that I ‘hit the jackpot’ because I was hired for my dream job right out of college. I spent my days painting, drawing, and creating artwork that was being worn by girls all over the world. I worked side by side with talented and creative women who became my best friends, and to this day still inspire me! I traveled to San Francisco, New York, and London on ‘shopping’ adventures–it truly was a dream job. People always ask me “why did you switch careers?? What’s the downside about being a full time graphic designer in such a fun/hip/youthful industry??” The downside for me was spending hours upon hours indoors sitting behind a computer screen–it’s hard to feel super inspired being inside all of the time. I felt like a caged bird who wanted to spread her wings. I realized that I no longer wanted to design the clothing I was making, I wanted to photograph models in the clothing. So in 2009 I went back to school for photography–emphasizing in fashion.
3. What steps did you take as you planed to start your own photography business?
While working full time in graphic design, I enrolled in Orange Coast College and took 1-2 photography classes every semester for 6 years. I had mentors and teachers who poured hours into training me and teaching me how to grow as an artist and a photographer. I assisted professional photographers on major ad campaigns, set up my own fashion photoshoots on the weekends, and I worked with agencies, models, stylists and makeup artists in order to grow my portfolio. I poured my whole self into my photography. I spent my weekends shooting, my days working my “real job”, and my nights editing from the photo shoots. I believed I was a photographer way before I actually was…I told myself that I would be a full time photographer in 5 years–(though it took me 6 years) and I fearlessly followed my dreams — I had no doubts. You could say that I dreamed it into reality–but I am PROOF that hard work, determination and BIG DREAMS are the perfect recipe for success!!
I photographed portraits, families, and babies (pretty much anyone who would let me photograph them) until one day my friend Hedy asked me to capture her wedding–(what a brave lass! HEDY, thank you for trusting me, I owe you an anniversary session one of these days!!) Hedy and Eddie would be my first of over 500+ weddings that I would come to photograph. I had NO idea that photographing weddings would be such a calling in my life! It comes as NO surprise to anyone who really knows me, because I am a hopeless romantic. I LOVE love and am obsessed with weddings–Getting married to my soulmate/life/photographer partner and planning our own dream wedding was probably the biggest highlight in my life so far. (If only I could have photographed it too! That would have been the icing on the cake! hahah)
4. Sooo.. you quit your full time job to pursue your ‘hobby,’ what were those final steps?
Set a date on your calendar TO QUIT YOUR JOB and SAVE SAVE SAVE: In order to leave my full time career of over 8 years as a graphic designer to follow my dreams of being a photographer I saved every penny; I worked and saved. I saved up over 6 months worth of bills/expenses and told myself, “Kendal, you have 6 months to make this work before you have to go and find another graphic design job–so make it happen!” It’s been over five years since I left the comforts of paychecks and 401k and health insurance, and I have never looked back.
5. What has been the most rewarding thing you’ve experienced since you took this leap of faith?
Every day is different–I could be photographing a wedding in Bali or on a swim shoot in Laguna or shooting for a magazine in Palm Springs. I love having the freedom to travel when I want, to take days off when I want, and to work twelve or fifteen hour days when I want. I go wherever the job is and I am inspired by people, beauty, and nature around me. I absolutely love being my own boss–people don’t tell you this; but being a business owner means you never stop working (truly, you will work harder for your own business than you ever thought possible). The best part about running your own business is that ALL of the hard work and energy you put forth goes directly into growing something beautiful, rewarding and life giving that you can be so proud of.
6. What has been the most challenging thing you’ve experienced since you went out on your own?
The most challenging aspect of being on my own is not always knowing where the next paycheck is going to come from. There are weeks and even months when it is scary; every January and February I stress out about not having enough work for the year–wondering when and where will the next jobs come from. This anxious feeling happens EVERY January and February, so I just try and plan ahead and budget my savings during that time. Slow seasons happen, so remembering that and planning ahead is always the goal!
7. What has been your favorite destination to shoot? Why?
Destination weddings are my favorite types of photography jobs because I get to adventure to new and amazing locations and experience the scenery, the food, culture and the people alongside my husband and photography partner. If I had to pick a favorite destination shoot, it would be Spain for sure! Spain is pretty magical–it’s not only beautiful and captivating with a million epic locations to photograph, but photographing there has opened up so many other photography opportunities for us around the world that we probably wouldn’t have had without the experience. Over the years we have been given the amazing opportunity to photograph all over the US, Europe, Indonesia, South America and Mexico! We just got back from a trip to Bali where we photographed and elopement and this September we are traveling to Spain, France, and Germany to photograph weddings! I am truly living my dreams by traveling around the world photographing people’s love story and I couldn’t be more humbled and blessed!!
8. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
In 5-10 years I see Anthony and I purchasing a beautiful piece of land and turning it into a wedding venue + event space! We would love to utilize all of our talents to create a memorable and beautiful place for people to get married. We love cultivating relationships with our couples and would want to create an experience for our guests that would never be forgotten. With my graphic design + marketing background and Anthony’s decade of hospitality experience combined with our photography and videography gifting, we dream of having an insane one-stop-shop wedding venue!! Ohhh and I hope to always be a photographer and I will continue to travel and shoot in beautiful places around the world.
9. If you could go back five years, what advice would you give your younger self before embarking on this new adventure?
I would tell myself SO MANY THINGS!! First I would say, plan and put systems in place. Make sure everything is running smoothly before you have too much to handle. It’s so easy to let things like accounting and paperwork fall through the cracks. Secondly I would tell myself, “do not say YES to every photography job that comes your way.” Money is scarce from time to time, so in the beginning I would take any job that came my way. I was photographing weddings, fashion, families, newborns, food, and products–however, I wasn’t excited about some of it. Figure out what excites you the MOST–and pursue those types of jobs! If it doesn’t excite you, don’t do it. Finally, continue to take classes and workshops ever year—-there are always new and exciting things to learn and classes challenge your creativity and can re-inspire you during the slower seasons!
10. Looking back over the past 5 years what would you say have been your biggest achievements?
I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already!! Where does the time go? I would have to say my biggest achievement is not only surviving as a full time photographer, but thriving!!! Over the last 5 years I have photographed for swimwear companies, woman’s clothing brands, activewear lines, jewelry companies, bridal boutiques, makeup companies, luxury hotels, home goods, restaurants and for several local and national magazines. I have photographed 15 fashion editorials and have had 6 FRONT PAGE COVERS. I have photographed over 150 weddings with 6 international weddings most of that side by side with my husband, Anthony. We launched The DeLauras, our husband and wife destination wedding photography team and have been growing our photography and videography portfolio not only for weddings but in the commercial world as well! It’s been a full 5 years and I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years will have in store for us!