I'm Joelle, an international Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer based in St. Joseph, MI. I'm also an educator and Photo Editor for photographers interested in growing their business and living life more.
Photo by: Nicole Balsamo Photography
Every once in awhile someone will ask me if majoring in Photography during college made a positive difference for my career. The answer is a big YES! I didn’t fully realize just how much it impacted my career until a couple of months ago. It dawned on me that the majority of my clients have come from attending the same school (or having mutual friends). Practicing my future career around my peers was one of the best marketing techniques, and I grew quickly from their word of mouth. Senior photos, event photography, engagements, or best friend photos; the possibilities seemed to keep coming, and there were a lot of times when it felt surreal.
My senior year was when I began pursuing wedding photography more intentionally. Our program required a Senior Thesis that involved an exhibit of a unique body of work. You could choose anything to be your project. Once you decided what your project would be, there were teachers and peers who held you accountable on progressing. Having realized that wedding photography was the career path I wanted to take, my senior exhibit was the perfect launching pad. Luckily for me, no one else in my program was as interested in wedding photography, so I made more of an impression on engaged couples on campus.
After months of hard work, seemingly endless photo shoots, perfecting my editing, ordering custom design flyers, ordering materials, and placing orders for the final products, my exhibit launched to the campus. Students came and saw my work, and they remembered me. They took business cards, told their friends about me, and some of them hired me to photograph their weddings.
I know that a lot of people don’t see the true merit in studying photography on a college campus when you could “easily” teach yourself and start up a business in your hometown. But, it’s really not that easy. I learned so much in my classes at Andrews University that helped me prepare for what I do now. My teachers supported me by letting me borrow equipment for shoots, and providing me with connections that stimulated growth outside of classrooms. I learned editing techniques, learned about lighting (in the studio & natural light), how to handle criticism, the best business practices, and most importantly; they pushed me to better myself, more than I could have on my own.
Learning photography in college laid the foundation for my career in the best possible way.
In reality, college isn’t always an option for some aspiring photographers. In those cases, workshops and mentoring sessions are incredibly beneficial (both of which I now offer). Sometimes you can participate in both, and that’s even more exciting!
No matter where you are in your photography journey, know that I’m cheering you on every step of the way! And if you need some extra resources, you can sign up for my newsletter to receive encouraging notes + beneficial resources as you grow your business!
Cheering for you, friend!