How Kayla Illies Became a Wedding Photographer!
Newly engaged couples, wedding vendors, and other creative entrepreneurs often ask me how I became a wedding photographer so I thought today would be a good opportunity to tell you my story. Being a Wedding and Engagement Photographer is not only my career of choice, but it’s also what I’m most passionate about (after my sweet husband of course!)!
Being able to get out of bed in the morning with my cup of coffee in hand to work with so many couples who are deeply in love with each other + make an impact on their lives, to help educate + inspire brides and other creative entrepreneurs daily, and to be able to do a career that I love + am so passionate about, is what I live and breathe for! Working for someone else or doing the normal boring 9-5 job has NEVER been my forte. I’ve always been a free + determined + creative soul!
The Back Story
Growing up I was in love with taking as many photos as I could to document my life, I didn’t want to forget a single moment or memory! Every family vacation my family took, I’d come home with 2,000-3500 photos, just from one week long vacation!
In high school I took as many art classes as I could; drawing, graphic design, painting, and then finally I took a photography class! Yes, looking back now at the time my photos weren’t amazing by any means, but in that moment, I felt like they were and I fell head over heels in love with it! I fell in love with being able to creatively capture different moments in my life and I loved how it wasn’t the standard photos you’d take on a normal day.
Most kids through high school would start planning what they wanted to do for their career and start pin pointing which colleges they wanted to attend to, but I however, did not. I was a dreamer and still am + always will be!
I went through so many options for my career, but they always ended with something creative! An artist, a writer, and finally one day when my parents told me that I had to make a decision, I decided to go to college to be a photographer.
No deep thoughts about whether or not it was the right choice, or if I should do something different. In that fleeting moment, I knew that photography would be the creative career I longed for and would be hell bent on making it happen no matter what!
2007-2009 I went to college and earned my degree for becoming a professional photographer. Throughout my two years of college I photographed some portrait sessions for family friends, second shot a few weddings, and interned with a portrait photographer for a couple months on top of my normal photography classes and sessions that I did for homework assignments.
It was a great learning experience and I’m thankful that I invested the time into educating myself about photography first before starting my own business. To this day continuing to educate myself is one of my top priorities!
Like many small business entrepreneurs, I faced my share of challenges and struggles. Early in my career I had so many people tell me that I would never be able to make a career out of being a photographer, that it was just a hobby, and that I’d never make enough income to support myself (all of which is a big fat lie by the way!).
The first few years of my business I struggled with this. It was hard, but being raised to always give it my best, no matter what, I kept pushing on! I was determined and hell bent to make it work, no matter what!
It took me a few years to realize I needed to stop trying to work full time on the farm and full time as a photographer. I was feeling drained and it was hurting my marriage when I’d come home from working on the farm to working on my business each and every night.
I also realized at that moment that I needed to stop listening to the people who didn’t believe I could do it and that I needed to stop looking at everything negatively! I had struggled with this my entire life!
It took me until my husband told me in January of 2014 that he wanted to join the Marine Corps, for me to finally let go of all of my grudges, to not let my fears decide my fate, to stop being an introvert + hiding in my shell, to open up + put myself out there, and to start looking at only the positives in EVERYTHING I did.
It was LIFE CHANGING for me!
It also completely changed our marriage for the better! I now make our marriage my number one priority (my wedding photography career #2) and make time every single day to spend time with my husband, our family, and our friends and to live my life!
Prior to my husband joining the Marine Corps, I was trying to focus on too many things to specialize my photography in. The small town I was in, I was becoming known as the senior photographer and the pet photographer, which I absolutely loved, but it’s not where my whole heart was!
My heart was in photographing weddings and photographing couples who were in love!
Even though it’s hard work + a lot of stress to photograph a wedding, I’d come home with a heart so full of love and a smile on my face for having been able to be there with that couple to share in their special wedding day and to have been able to tell THEIR unique love story through my photographs!
When we moved here to Oceanside in Southern California late summer of 2015, I made the choice to switch to ONLY specialize in photographing weddings, elopements, and engagements.
It was a new chapter in my career and I wanted to start it right!
I realized I couldn’t continue trying to photograph everything and anything, that I had to make a choice, and I wanted it to be something that I could put my whole heart into + focus all of my efforts into to make it the best it could be!
Making the decision to specialize in being a wedding photographer and an engagement photographer has been so freeing + has helped me focus all of my efforts into building my business to best serve my KIP couples!
New Goals & My Passion For It
It is my goal now to give my KIP couples the best experience that I can give them, to help them fill their homes with their memories, to always be myself + let people into my life/get to know me, to always look at the positives in everything, to build great relationships with fellow wedding vendors and creative entrepreneurs to help + support + inspire them, to live the life I’ve wanted to live, to travel, and to make an impact on each persons life that I connect with!
Choosing to be only a wedding photographer has made my heart so filled with love + joy, and it has given my life a whole new meaning! It has given me purpose!
A purpose to really care for each and every one of my clients with my whole heart, to get to know them on a deeper level, to tell THEIR love story, and to help them fill their homes with their precious memories so they can be reminded every single day about how beautiful their lives are and that no matter what happens in their life, their best friend will always be with them by their side!
THIS is why being a wedding photographer and an engagement photographer is so important to me and why I’m so passionate about what I do!
Follow along with me on social media and learn more about me!
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>> Printable wedding planning timelines so that you can stay on track while planning your wedding.
>> My own personal KIP wedding day shot list so that you don't have to worry about missing a photo on your wedding day.
>> A workbook filled with questions that you need to ask wedding photographers at the consultation so you can see if they're the right fit for you.
>> Sample wedding day timelines, that are wedding planner approved, so that you can plan for the best photos on your wedding day!
>> A guide to learn how to plan a destination elopement so that you don't have to worry about missing a step or knowing where to start!
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