All photos from this sponsored Field Trip are courtesy of Chuy Rodriguez. All photos were edited with the Wolf Pack presets.
Nine months into my photography, I received an inquiry that entirely changed and shaped how my business is structured today.
A beautiful couple reached out to me, wanting to get their photos taken in Tennessee because the future groom was stationed out there for the military. I had never been out there before and let alone on a plane, but they wanted my services.
Excited out of my mind for my first paid gig to a state that I’ve heard great things about, I was on my way to Tennessee. Oh and get this, the couple even paid for my wife and son to come along the ride with me.
Scared out of my mind to board this plane and with my wife laughing her head off, we landed safely in Tennessee. The first thing we did was go out and site see for the rest of our afternoon there. It was THE best experience ever, and we had only been exploring for about an hour. The Nashville Hot Chicken there is no joke; we are obsessed with it and we probably had 2 or 3 sandwiches that afternoon.
The next day we met with our couple and it was time to get to creating. I was so excited to meet them and just have an amazing time together. We snapped a few images at Foster Falls, TN and all the greenery blew us away.
We are from Southern California so a change in environment for the week was much needed. We laughed, cried, danced our way through the trails and bugs of the park. We had to ditch the stroller because it was slowing us down. So because he is a military guy, the groom hid the stroller very well. We shot through sunset and into blue hour. Boy, did we lose track of time. We didn’t realize we had to walk back 2 miles to get back to the main road where we left our cars. We got completely lost.
We ended up walking over 4 miles with a sleeping 17-month-old on my back in complete darkness. The only light we had was our cell phones and even then, it was hard to see where we were going. We had to hitch a ride from a stranger that kindly dropped us back off at our cars. Then, we realized we had to go back for the stroller because my wife left her phone in there. If it hadn’t been for that phone I just bought her, I would have left the stroller there entirely.
Thankfully we made it back to our Airbnb where my wife and I couldn’t believe what we went through that night. It was definitely a trip we would never forget.
The best part of this industry is the power of Social Media. I posted IG stories along the way and also photos that we were in Tennessee. Another couple from Kentucky, who had been following me for a while on Instagram reached out wanting to get an elopement done.
I was so excited because the first couple had booked us out there for a whole week, and we only worked with them on our 2nd day there, so we had 5 days of personal time to just go out and enjoy. We set out on our way to KY, driving for about 5-6 hours straight, to go meet the second couple and plan their elopement within 24 hours.
Luck for us, the bride’s roommate was a florist so florals were taken care of. The bride had her dress already in her closet, but they had postponed the wedding because they were an interracial couple. Her father REFUSED to walk her down the aisle if she had married him. I cried my eyes out hearing their story and I promised them that I would do my best and capture their story. We got up bright and early and went over to the Red River Gorge, KY to shoot their elopement.
Here is the thing I love most about my job: watching the story unfold and creating with my couples. Spending more than 12+ hours with these two really shined through in the photos. We shot their elopement and then went out for pizza and beers and laughed our way through the night.
The following day, an old friend from high school that I'd worked with at my first job at the mall reached out to me because she was now living in KY. She had some friends who just gotten married but couldn’t afford a wedding photographer on their big day. I felt so overwhelmed with joy that I agreed to gift them that session. We met up and shot these two beautiful souls and it was the best experience ever. I hate it when photographers say we have to always shoot everything for money. Why not just go out and shoot for art?
Upon returning home from the trip, I kept thinking about my couple’s story--the two who had eloped because the bride's father didn’t approve of their marriage based on the groom's skin color. I had this wild idea to submit my first elopement to one of my favorite wedding blogs, Junebug Weddings. I’d been dreaming of a Junebug Feature long before I had left my 9-5 job. Within 24 hours of submitting, I received email confirmation that they would love to feature the elopement. It was the best feeling ever, and I had the date that I received the email confirmation tattooed on my arm with a coffee cup surrounding it.
This industry is more than just money; it’s art. Creating something out of nothing is the true beauty of why I do what I am now doing. Since that submission, I now have 2018 lined up with weddings all over the world: Utah, Mexico, Seattle, Oregon, to even AUSTRALIA. Words cannot express the joy this journey has given me in the span of a year!