In an Instant – Everything Changed

It was on a flight to I don’t remember where……talking to a stranger who was self-employed, when he helped me see. Photography wasn’t an option, it was a calling. An unshakable feeling down to the very last cell in my body that I had to share my passion with the world. I had no idea, in that moment, that my life would change forever. Or even more shockingly, just how much it would change…

(Shooting film on my Hassleblad circa 1999 (frosted tips and all!)

The backstory:

You see, I was the type of college kid who switched majors 6 times…..6 times!  I was interested in a lot of things, yet also paralyzed about making a decision about what I wanted to do for the rest of my LIFE.  So I settled on safe.  I got a BS in Psychology (haha) with a huge emphasis on biology and all pre-req for getting into grad school.  I even minored in Spanish.  And I did go to grad school and got a Master’s in Physical Therapy.  

After graduating I found a good job and went about doing my thing and paying off grad bills.  And it was fine, but I just moved through the motions.  I wasn’t passionate about it.

My hubs and I had moved to Atlanta where I tried to find a PT job for quite a few months with no luck due to lack of openings.  So I got on with a temp agency and got into sales and marketing for the Starz! movie channel.  Also fun and I learned a lot, but not my passion.  During said job I was on a flight when the above conversation with the self-employed stranger happened. 

Heart-to-heart with a stranger:

He saw something in me I didn’t even see myself.  He asked what I did and I just gave him the canned answer.  Then I asked him the same and we got to talking about his business and self-employment.  Then he asked me what I liked to do.  I immediately thought about photography.  I had a darkroom in my house and took film classes for fun, for God’s sake!  I must have lit right up talking about it because he told me I had to it.  I had to pursue photography as a passion and a business.  I only had one life.  And a light-bulb went off.  

(Knew I loved capturing personality early on, but don't mind the crazy editing!)

I got home and wouldn’t stop talking about it.  I started photographing everything, including my reluctant partner, our dogs, friend’s weddings and friend’s who had babies, and I couldn’t get enough.  I loved it!  So I just did it, and figured out the business part as I went.  It was definitely a hobby and a side-gig to my real job then, but I knew that photography was where my heart was.

(This image was on my website forever.  I thought it was the bomb :)

Becoming a Mom:

Fast forward to moving back to the Pacific Northwest and becoming a mom.  As most moms, I loved photographing my little ones growing up and it was such a creative outlet.  It made photography that much more valuable to me, having these visual reminders of how little they once were and how fast they were growing.  I was utterly hooked on the creativity, storytelling, and sense of nostalgia photography brings to my life and others, and I still am. 

(When she was a newborn)
(My little guy.....and I discovered the nifty fifty lens (and didn't over-edit)

I was making more money but then one day my hubs got laid off and we freaked out a little bit.  So that pushed me further.  To really make it a business and become profitable.  To earn an income to help pay the bills because you never know what life is going to throw at you!

(Awwww!  Over-edited but cute :) 
(This was a few years into my business and I was hooked on capturing connection)
(She will forever and always be my muse :)

Follow your passion and work hard:

I practiced and learned and made mistakes, and kept tweaking and evolving. I started with film, went to digital, over-edited studio work with tons of props and tons of posing. Then to action, then back to film (my first love), then ditched the studio and went to full lifestyle work. The journey is never a straight line, even with a passion! Do you want to see more of my journey??

(I went through a huge prop phase and shot studio work.....)
(Had everything very posed.....)
(Discovered I loved movement and action but oops....editing is still off!)

Then I realized I was missing film and digital didn’t work for me. I didn’t like editing on the computer for wee hours into the night. I went back to film.

(Comparing digital to film for about a year and loved the results of film!)

Then the last big recent step in my journey has been moving to in-home lifestyle work – my true love. I remember being so incredibly scared to shoot film inside. Looking back, I think that was silly, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re not sure if it’s the right move for your business #amiright ?!

(In-home lifestyle - my true love!!)

Fast forward again to me typing this now, and I really would have never guessed this path would take me here.  Making more money than I did as a PT, setting my hours and schedule, teaching and co-founding retreats, and getting paid to travel.  I’ve found my happy place. (Pinch me, seriously.)

I don’t even remember the stranger’s name, and I’m sure he has no idea about the impact he had on me and the path my life has taken since, but I think about him often.

What’s your passion?

But I am here to ask you, what is your passion?  What do you love to do?  What’s holding you back from doing it and trying to make money at it?  I’ve heard the buzz-word now is becoming a “multi-preneuer”.  You can be multi-faceted and multi-talented and make money doing several different things.  How are you sure you will fail if you don’t even try? Just sayin’.

It’s been crazy writing this post and looking back on all the change, but knowing how much I still love photography. I also know, looking forward, that I haven’t finished evolving. And I’m a-okay with that!



Other Ways I can Help You:


Get free business education and tips on the blog: Start here

My 6 Favorite Business Services/Tech every Photog Should Have


Save Time with my 17hats Email Templates for Family Photogs

For Family Photography: Join The FUNtographer Experience

For Film Photography: Get on Waitlist for upcoming Metering Mini-Course

For Flash & In-home Lighting: Join Lighting for Lifestyle Flash Class

Biz, portfolio reviews, coaching & more: Book 1:1 Mentoring

Hi, I'm Kim Hildebrand!

Photographer & Online Business Educator

Find me on the 'Gram

Always sharing my latest photos, dog memes, home and gardening tips, and just plain having fun!

Kim Hildebrand