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  • Writer's pictureShana Watkins

From Classroom to Studio: My Journey from Journalism Teacher to Professional Photographer

Here's what happened next...

⭐️ I rediscovered my artistic side.

Embracing my creativity again felt like coming home. It reminded me of why I fell in love with art in the first place and ignited a passion that had been lying dormant.

⭐️ While I missed seeing my students' creativity soar, I knew I needed to be engaged in something of my own creation. Those handouts could only be redesigned so many times.🤪

Teaching was rewarding, but I needed to channel my energy into something uniquely mine. The constraints of the classroom couldn't contain my need for a personal artistic outlet.

⭐️ I built my business on high school seniors and black-and-white baby portraits. Both still have my heart to this day. Really, everything I photograph feels special to me.

The early days of my business were filled with capturing the poignant moments of high school seniors and the innocent beauty of babies. These sessions were foundational, and each one still holds a special place in my heart. Every photograph I take is a cherished piece of someone's story.

⭐️ After photographing a handful of weddings, I decided I'd leave those to the adrenaline junkies. I like photographing at my own pace and getting to know my clients and their families over the years.

Weddings are thrilling, but I realized my true calling was elsewhere. I preferred the slower, more personal approach of building long-term relationships with my clients and capturing their journeys over time.

⭐️ I developed my own style -- classic portraits that weren't stiff or forced. I wanted to create a timeless look that was fresh and genuine, where everyone looked and felt their best.

Crafting a unique style was crucial. I focused on creating classic, yet relaxed portraits that felt authentic and timeless. My goal was always to make my clients look and feel their best, capturing their true selves.

⭐️ I studied with the best portrait photographers in the country. Sometimes it was at their studios and other times I traveled to take week-long classes.

To perfect my craft, I sought out the best mentors. This journey took me across the country, learning from top portrait photographers in various settings. Each experience enriched my skills and broadened my artistic vision.

⭐️ I fell in love with the families I photographed and felt as invested in their portraits as I would my own family, which pushed me to earn my Master's of Photography degree and Certified Professional Photographer designation through Professional Photographer's of America. There aren't many of us in Missouri to have both titles, and I wanted my clients to know I was willing to do whatever it took to perfect my craft, both technically and artistically.

My dedication to my clients inspired me to achieve the highest credentials in my field. Earning my Master's of Photography degree and becoming a Certified Professional Photographer was a testament to my commitment to excellence. These accomplishments reassure my clients that I am fully invested in delivering the best possible portraits.

⭐️ I realized I never wanted to do anything else. I couldn't be more appreciative of the amazing client families who have helped me sustain this career with their support and allowed me to fulfill the dream of making photography my life's work.

Ultimately, this journey has affirmed that photography is my true calling. The support and trust of my client families have made this dream a reality. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to create art that celebrates their lives and legacies.

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