I was born and raised a North Carolina Tarheel. I grew up on a dirt road and I am and always will be a country girl who loves the outdoors. I moved to Franklin County, Georgia in 2006 and have been in this state ever since. I met my husband, Mitch, at Emmanuel College, where I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English with a Minor in Communication. My first full time job out of college was as a Graphic Designer and that's where I really fell in love with photography and all things marketing.
We bought our first house and moved to Commerce, Ga in 2012 and in December of 2012, we had our son, Gage. (Hence the name 12 Gage)
After my son was born, I decided to be a stay -at- home mother. I also started working part time for The Paper, where I met many incredible local leaders and friends. I started 12 Gage Photography in 2013 and it quickly became my creative outlet for this spit-up covered, exhausted mama. In 2014, my husband took a new job in sales so I had to quit working for The Paper and realized I needed a support system. So I founded the Jackson County chapter of the non-profit, International Moms Club for at-home mothers in my area. It started off small but we are growing significantly with each year! The Moms Club quickly became my second family here in Jackson County. Things kind of fell into place for me as a mom and a photographer around 2015, I finally felt like I belonged here and wasn't so new to this whole motherhood thing anymore. I had my tribe, my amazing family and husband and my photography business was growing with each month.
Last year, my son started preschool and that allowed me some free time to work on my business, edit photos and scout for new locations. I had an incredible year in 2016 and am being blown away at the support from my customers this year as well. I'm an Exclusive Vendor at Hays-McDonald Farm in Jefferson, Ga so I have been doing more local weddings too. I'm loving the rush and being able to capture the sweet moments of that type of work! I also did Christmas tree farm photos last Christmas and that brought a lot of local first time clients and most of them have already booked with me again for this year so I'm so thrilled to be growing my local clientele. My engaged couples, parents-to-be, families, high school seniors, babies... all of my clients are like family to me because they choose to support my family when book with me and for that I am always grateful! My goal as a family photographer is to capture as many genuine moments as possible so I make an effort to help people relax and be their real selves. And when people learn that they can be real with me, that's when we begin to grow as family in our photographer/client relationship.
But looking forward, I still feel like something is missing in my community.
Yes, I live in a great small town. It's safe here. It's close to Athens, Gainesville, Buford, Anderson. It's full of small town charm and has some amazing people and programs for kids. But something is missing. My creative wheels have been turning and when I met my artist friend, Frances Byrd in 2014 because I interviewed her for The Paper, we quickly hit it off as friends and as colleagues. She was given the same nudge as I was a few years ago that something is missing in this town and we quickly realized that we here to help solve that mystery. We are hoping to bring an art culture to downtown unlike before. She is about to launch her Libertas Americana Art crowd funding campaign in order to buy a building in downtown Commerce as her art studio. She will allow me to use some of her space as a photography studio as well. Here we will be hosting events, classes, shows and bringing surrounding communities here for a creative space. And in doing so, we will be slowly but surely filling in that missing piece of our Commerce puzzle. We believe there is a strong need for a local art hub and we cannot wait to begin this journey.
Until now, I've been an outdoor photographer. I've done several shoots indoor with my lights but they've been in my home or my client's home, never a studio. I absolutely love natural light so I will always be an outdoor photographer. But I would truly love to have a space for newborn photos or wintertime photos. I would also love to have a space even just to consult with clients and store my many props. Because being plugged into a creative community brings so much life to my photography business and to Frances' art business. Being able to network and bounce ideas off of each other and learn from each other is crucial to the long-term success of any business and even culture. There's so many aspects of art that you cannot teach but must experience. Frances' building will be where an aspiring artist or photographer can find their eye or their next idea and be able to say they've experienced something new and challenging. This is just one reason why we look forward to being the hands and feet of an art community in Commerce, Ga.
I hope my story has many more chapters following this one and I hope they all somehow include this creative and self-taught culture that we are trying to begin here. Beginnings are scary and exciting at the same time. I hope you will follow mine and join me in my journey as well!