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1 Year in Business, Baby!

Photo by the incomparable Gretchen Bell

In October of 2018, I made a decision. I already enjoyed taking pictures like, a ridiculous amount, and people started asking more and more about my travel pictures. Before you know it, I started taking pictures for friends and family, and then a thought occurred…should I make this official?

Starting a business was something I NEVER ever thought I was capable of! I have a Masters in Spanish and Secondary Education, not Photography or Business. But the Era of the Self-Made Woman is back in style and I am HERE for it! I learned everything I could about my camera, lighting and composition, took some classes, found myself a mentor, and started snapping pictures any chance I got.

Some dear friends of mine got engaged and wanted to do a “photographic tour” of the most important spots to them in Louisville – we went to Holy Grale, Steel City Pops, the Big Four Bridge, and Nowhere Bar 🙂 While we were at Holy Grale, a group of guys asked me to take their picture. I smiled and said, “Okay, that will cost you $5,” thinking they were joking and would let me get back to taking pictures. One of them slammed a five dollar bill on the table and they all got together to pose. I was legitimately shocked someone wanted to pay me just to take a casual picture of them! That inspired and motivated me to continue and to feel like photography could become a full-time career for me if I keep working at it, making connections, and put my business out there.


Since October of last year, I have learned SO MUCH that it’s hard to believe it’s ONLY been a year being officially in business. I went through all the legal hoops, opened a bank account, created business cards AND a website, and somehow in between found time to do all this:

  • 4 styled shoots
  • 13 weddings 
  • 10 Family portraits 
  • 4 Newborns/maternity 
  • 3 engagements 
  • 7 Senior portraits 
  • Restaurant photography for Noche Mexican BBQ 
  • 2 Pet photography sessions 
  • 1 Boudoir session
  • Attended Reset Conference for photographers


I definitely underestimated myself in 2018 (I aimed to shoot 1 wedding – I ended up shooting 13 so far, and am still getting booked for more!), but I have been UNBELIEVABLY humbled and honored that so many friends have encouraged me, supported my business by booking sessions with me or modeling for me, and to hear that others have seen and liked my work! 

As I continue to grow and learn more about business and photography, I continue to enjoy working with other photographers who teach by example, making new friends in the biz, and feeling more confident in what seemed an impossible dream last year.


What comes next?

Here’s a “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish in the next few years, inspired by fellow Liberty HS grad and inspirational photographer Stephanie Messick!  

Bucket List 2019/2020

  • Reach 1,000 likes on Instagram (help a sister out!)
  • Attend a styled shoot / weekend workshop somewhere out west (send me recommendations!)
  • Double my personal wedding bookings for 2020
  • Partner with more restaurants and other creative business clients (lmk if you know someone interested)
  • Shoot a destination elopement
  • Invest in a mirrorless camera (maybe win the lottery before this)
  • Do charitable photography work
  • Get published!

My personal motto for the past year was “Growth + change = success”. I’ve had to invest a lot of money, give up many weekends, and change my evening habits to be able to accomplish all this, and I also could not have done this without the support of people I love and have followed my journey!

So THANK YOU again to everyone who has helped me to grow, whether by motivating and inspiring me, supporting my business by booking sessions with me, referred friends to me, or just liking my pictures and interacting with my stories! Every one of those things makes such a big impact and I look forward to memories we’ll make together in the coming year.

PS – If you want to help me celebrate, please share a favorite image I’ve taken to your story and tag me so I can relive the good times we had together!

PPS – Leaving a Google Review would also be AMAZING! I’d love to hear what your favorite part about our session was and for you to include your favorite photo(s)!

<3 Johanna Elise, Frames & Letters Photography

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