Member, Professional Photographers of America

marlin elementary school

From Teacher to Photographer

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Isn't that the question we ask young adults all the time?   I personally have asked this same question to hundreds of children throughout my thirty-six years.  Over the years I have heard many responses to that question - NFL player, dancer, fireman, teacher, etc.  Growing up my response was always, "I want to be a teacher when I grow up."

You might be asking yourself, if you always wanted to be a teacher then why are you a photographer?  Well, simply put...things changed.

After high school I decided to have a family instead of pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I loved my family, but something was missing in my life.  I still had that longing to educate young children.  I began taking classes at Boise State University and in 2007 I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. 

I left Idaho and moved to Texas for various reasons and began my first teaching assignment at Marlin Elementary School in Marlin, Texas.  I taught fourth grade for three years and kindergarten for two years.  I loved working with the children and families in Marlin!  I found it to be an extremely rewarding career! 

As I began my sixth year of teaching at Marlin Elementary School we received a completely new administration.  They were not accommodating to my needs as a new mother.  At this time I had a newborn and needed time to express breastmilk for my daughter.  The administration told me they could not provide me with the necessary break time to provide this for me and my family.  I then resigned.  I was forced to choose my career - my love of education - or the needs of my family.  I chose my family and it killed me. 

At this very moment in time I realized that a career in education was not all that I believed it to be and I began to search for something else that could be equally rewarding, as well as provide the needs required by my family.  As I thought about possible career paths, my love of photography came to the front of my mind.  I pushed it to the back of my mind because the thought of starting my own business honestly overwhelmed me.  However, the possibility of owning my own photography business gradually seemed to sound exciting.

I have had numerous photographs taken of my kids and family.  Some I absolutely loved and others were just "ok."  I consider myself a pretty tough client.  I have a large family which consists of eleven if you count all the children - mine, his, ours, and the ones we picked up along the way!  There are two major issues with photography sessions I had as a parent of such a large family. 

The Smith Family with two kids missing from the photo.  Left to right:  Lily on the back of Gracie, Bradley, Sadie being held by Ethan, Thomas, John, Anna (myself), and Colby.  Not pictured are:  Anthony and William

The Smith Family with two kids missing from the photo.  Left to right:  Lily on the back of Gracie, Bradley, Sadie being held by Ethan, Thomas, John, Anna (myself), and Colby.  Not pictured are:  Anthony and William

One, patience.  It is nearly impossible to get all eleven of us to fully cooperate through an entire photo session!  The kids don't want to be there and it shows.  I would receive the prints and love the concept, but as a family we just looked so...unhappy.  I couldn't feel the love or emotions.  The photographs were just photographs instead of a memory that was captured forever. 

Two, cost.  The sheer cost of photographing a family of eleven is scary!  Photographers seem to have a pricing which is a certain amount for four individuals and every additional individual is an extra fee.  Well, when you have a family of eleven the additional individual fee is astronomical! 

If I was going to have my own photography business, I knew what I wanted to provide.  I needed to provide a patient and carefree atmosphere which would make families and individuals feel comfortable and allow them to be themselves.  People have told me over and over that the session was so easy and comfortable or that they could feel the emotions in their photographs.  Those comments let me know that what I am doing is rewarding.  It gives me a sense of purpose as a photographer.

I also wanted to provide affordable photography for people.  Obviously I can't work for free.  I have business expenses I have to pay.  I don't like giving families a time limit.  I don't like charging additional fees for "additional individuals."  Whether you have a family of four or a family of eleven, you will pay the same session fee.  I have my pricing set up in a way that is straightforward and is affordable at the same time.   

I read a TON of information about photography and business!  After all, I do LOVE education! I seek help from fellow photographers as needed.  I am constantly learning so I can provide the best to my clients.  This is not a task I take lightly. 

Recently I received some of the kindest words after a mother viewed her family photographs. 

I adore Zachary’s face in their pic together and Vanna’s face in our family picture. It totally captures them! You are truly talented. I think people go through life finding out what their purpose is, and struggling with just a job. It shows this is your passion. And your artistic ability with editing and adding the right elements. I hope you have years and bounds of success. Thank you for taking the time to end our summer on a fantastic shoot. Making memories, and capturing a moment in time when families love each other IS making a difference. We get so caught up in living life, and arguing whose turn it is to do the dishes, and please get off your phone and stop yelling at your brother, that we forget to always say I love you’s, and be kind to one another. Even if just for a second. We did in the photo. - personal message from Misty Rae Bridger (August 2015)

I made the move from teacher to photographer.  I am extremely happy.  I am looking forward to meeting many more families and capturing many more memories!