I never take this crazy little ride I'm on for granted, but sometimes it hits me. Like really hits me how amazing it is. This business that I built from scratch. With blood sweat and tears. With days spent crying, and years spent struggling, yet I never gave up. Even on the hardest and darkest days I knew this was my dream. I knew I was meant for this. I knew I was meant to forge forward and make a difference. I feel blessed every day, but some days it blows me away what has happened in a little over two years because of my drive, my work ethics, my hard work and my stubborness to never quit even when quitting seemed like the only option. I remember the defining moment 3 1/2 years ago. I was sitting on the couch in the apartment I could no longer pay rent on, looking at bills I couldn't afford to pay. And I had a choice. Give up on my photography business and get a regular, good paying job. Or keep forging forward and make my dream happen come hell or high water. The thought of giving up broke my heart, and it was then and there I knew that this was what I was meant to do, and there was no way I could give up on it. No matter how hard it would be to make that dream a reality, I couldn't give up. Thanks to the kindness of friends, a move, determination, and the decision to help a care package group with their charity calendar, that dream began to take form and slowly move forward.
The next year was a rough one. I struggled. I cried. The love of my life walked away from me. I thought about giving up. But the struggles formed me. They made me grow, and solidified my decision that I was on the right path. I launched my model page in February 2016, and when I found out I could combine two of my passions, books and photography, I messaged dozens of authors introducing myself and my work to try and get my foot in the door for book covers. I was told over and over again by people in the industry that I would never make it as a model photographer because I wasn't willing to photoshop or alter my photos. There were days when I believed them and almost quit. But the positive influences in my life, especially my family, Kevin Moss and Drew Deaton, wouldn't let me. They encouraged me and pushed me until I used the negative to fuel my drive and stoke my fires. I used those negatives to learn and grow, making myself better with each and every shoot. And now, about two years later I have almost 300 book covers licensed with an amazing group of authors and models. I have a charity calendar that grows more each year and actually makes a difference in peoples' lives through Honor the Sacrifice. I organized a successful author event in 5 months in a place I had never been, and I am working on another one in Seattle for 2017. I have an absolutely incredible group of authors, models and readers who believe in me and support me in everything I do. I have amazing life long friends I have made in this crazy little book world. I have people I have known most of my life, and people I met through OpLove who message me and tell me how proud they are. All of this fuels me each and every day and makes me feel incredibly blessed.
The same passion that drives me can also drive people away and make me vulnerable to critics and pain. But it's part of me, and I believe it is the reason I am here today, so I will not let it go or apologize for it. When I was younger I dreamed that someday I would travel and take photos and get paid for it. A little while back I realized that is exactly what I am doing. How's that for living your dreams??
Sometimes it blows my mind that so many people know who I am, and know my work. It's bizarre, surreal and exciting to me. To know that I influence people and make them smile on a daily basis just by posting and being me. All because I had a dream and never gave up on that dream even when giving up felt like the only option.
So dream big. Follow your passion. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't. You never know what may happen if you do. That dream of yours just may become a reality.