The story of Bethany J. Photography
A portrait of me at 17 by Rebekah Bruff
Hello and welcome! Who am I? Many things I would say. A creative artist, a lover of photography, an entrepreneur, a wife, a new mom, a person trying to figure out this thing called life. This however isn’t therapy so I’m going to share with you how in all of the growing and changing of life I have built and continue to build this absolute treasure of a business called Bethany J. Photography. Born out of a passion for the art of the portrait and love for the joy photography brings when I show a client just how unique, beautiful, and amazing they look; BJP started as a hobby and has become my lifelong passion.
There is an arms-length list of people who I should thank for kindling my love and skill for photography. First is my mom, who is one of the most creative people I know, as well as my dad who never said there was anything I couldn’t do. I can’t forget my amazing art teachers and friends who instilled invaluable knowledge year after year. At 14 years old I took my first official photo class at school encouraged by those mentioned above. First of all, I was shocked that a.) the class was in black and white only and b.) it was on old school film that we had to work with. A skeptic at first, I was lit up with excitement the moment I developed my first print in the darkroom. If you are an artist you know the joy that comes from looking at your finished work. It is a mixture of ideas, skills, and let’s be honest-hope. You stand back and say “wow I made this and it looks good!” It’s the level of pure joy that I imagine God had when he created beautiful sunsets, forests, and of course us! With my newfound passion, I dove headfirst in and before I knew it I had my very first real family session for Christmas. With no proper lighting, no location, and bad weather, at 15 I could hardly contain my excitement And nervousness directing a family on how to pose. Unsure of what I was doing I relied on my visual instinct and solved each shot like a puzzle. It was then that I thought “Hey! I can do this for a living!”
One of my film photos from 2014.
Me in high school with the photo club! My bestie is in the stripes we both still take pics today!
Check out my old Tumblr account!
An image from my first photoshoot.
Bethany J. Photography is based on my name, the “J” stands for Joy my actual middle name, and a symbol of why I make portraits. From that first session on, I spent all of my energy on photography and art education. I built my little business with the money I had from babysitting and the people who volunteered as models so I could build a portfolio. I count myself blessed to have a one-track mind at such a young age because whether anyone else took me seriously, I believed in my heart that I had found the one thing that I would never stop doing and wholeheartedly committed to making it a true business. As I graduated high school and went to art school I found new challenges that scared me far out of my comfort zone. I was overwhelmed by Tough assignments, crazy talented peers, new skills, and equipment I had yet to master. What had been a fun exploratory passion in high school became a narrow and serious path that drove a new understanding of “work ethic” in me. Can anyone relate to having doubt? I began to doubt my skills and passion because I allowed comparison to be the thief of my joy. It was my clients who continued to book with me that kept me encouraged. There were many firsts like first repeat clients, first print delivery, first wedding, and each milestone kept me going when I was ready to throw in the towel.
Right when I was ready to give up I decided I had come too far to quit and finished my B.F.A in Photography (‘19.) Just as I finished graduation I made some other big decisions! 1.) Getting married 2.) Starting my first full-time “job” and 3.) Finally moving out of my parent's home. Writing a business plan and learning about what an LLC was, took a lot of coordination in those days! I felt I had a solid business plan to move forward with and then 2020 hit! Talk about doubting if you are making the right choice. Everything shut down and I had to shift into focusing on school photography. Surprisingly I had one of the biggest jobs ever in the middle of a pandemic! Once again when I was on the edge of giving up again I pressed on anyway and found my biggest victor. Here I am now in 2021 and because I love a challenge I will be starting my journey into motherhood this August. And guess what? I’m still not stopping. I will still be out there with you photographing weddings, birthdays, Christmas, and “just because you love your family" pictures. I will still be sharing in your joys and wins because after years of growing I am starting to understand how tough life can be and how unrelenting change is. What I do know is that in the middle of it all we must have joy! The story of Bethany J. Photography is like a small seed growing against the winds of change and I pray you to stick around to see it fully blossom! -Bethany Steele