All about Hillary

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My Journey to Becoming a Wedding Photographer

becoming a wedding photographer by Hillary Muelleck

Hey everyone! I’m a wedding photographer and I’ve been shooting weddings for 7 years now. Other then my about me page on my website, I’ve never actually written out my story of who I am, where I came from, and what lead me to shooting weddings!

My Background

I grew up in the dry desert of southern California. It’s funny, when I tell people I’m from California, many automatically assume that I lived on the beach and grew up surfing. That wasn’t my life at all! I grew up in the desert with tumbleweeds, 100+ degree summers, no seasons, and swimming pools. Both my parents were lifeguards before they became teachers and I followed in those same footsteps. When I was 15 I became a lifeguard and started teaching swimming lessons. I spent my summer days at the pool watching patrons from the guard tower and then spent my evenings scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins. After I graduated high school, I moved to Utah to attend Utah State University and start my classes to become a Speech Pathologist. I loved the idea of teaching and helping people, but didn’t want to be a teacher like my parents and grandparents. So a career in Speech Therapy seemed to give me that, while still keeping my options open as far as what types of jobs and hours I could work.

College. And it wasn’t for photography!

While in my freshman year of college, I was introduced to many different types of people with many different career paths. I met one girl who was the best friend of one of my roommates and her name was Hailey. At the time Hailey was my age, (just graduated high school like me) and had started a business doing photography and videography (and was making money at it!!). I had never heard of such a thing! Someone young, a WOMAN, and making good money doing fun things, all while never having been to college. I grew up with a very traditional sense of life. You go to college, get a real job, get married, la, la, la. I never really thought there were other ways of doing things until I met her.

My Own Wedding Photography Experience

Fast forward, I’m 2 years into college, engaged, and planning my wedding! When I met my photographer, she invited my mom and I into her home office where she talked to us about everything she offered and what kind of photography experience I would have with her. I loved that she had kids, worked from home, and got paid to take beautiful photos! After my wedding day, I decided I wanted to be a wedding photographer. I wanted that flexible life. I wanted to own a business. I loved the rush of a wedding day and the fact that I would get to serve brides and grooms on the most important day of their lives! I was sold.

Start My Business After College Graduation

I was already half done with my Speech Pathology degree so I decided to finish it. I like having training in something else, so that if I ever decide to switch careers in the future, that option is open to me. I second shoot a lot in Utah and even shot a few weddings of my own before moving to Pennsylvania and officially starting my business. It was really hard starting my business from scratch on the other side of the country. I did a lot of networking, second shooting, associate shooting, shot lower budget weddings, attended workshops, paid for mentoring sessions, and did everything in my power to grow my business. At the time I was using my degree and working at the school district to help pay the bills while my husband attended medical school. You can’t have a job in medical school (nor do you have the time!) so any money would have to come from me. After a year and a half, I was able to quit my school job to work at my business full-time. I worked my butt off to move out of our tiny apartment so we could afford a townhouse. We got our dog Boris, we went on trips (like to Hawaii and Boston), and then when the time came to move for residency, we were able to buy a house. All thanks to me, and I’m not ashamed to say it! It was hard work and I’m proud of myself!

Today

Today we live in Winston Salem, North Carolina and we’ve been here for almost 2 years. I’m still photographing weddings and families, and I still love my job just as much as I did 7 years ago when I shot my first wedding in Utah. I don’t do this for the magazine publications or the opportunity to travel to new places (although I’m blessed to have had those experiences). I’m a wedding photographer because I love being a woman business owner, making my own money, having a flexible lifestyle, all while doing something creative. I love serving people who deserve to have their happy moments documented forever. I love telling their story through timeless portraiture, details, movement, emotion, and color. I’m so grateful for my job and the amazing people I’ve be able to meet because of it. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey and hopefully I’ll get the chance to photograph you in the future. Assuming I haven’t done so already ;)

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