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10 Years with a Camera in Hand | Celebrating 26

March 8, 2020

A blog post… on a Sunday?! I know… crazy. BUT, today is a special day, and I wanted to CELEBRATE! Not only is it my 26th birthday, but it is the 10th anniversary of being gifted my first camera!!!

In years past, I did a little recap about what I learned that year… sharing the good, the bad & the slightly humorous. 25 had its ups and downs, and I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever be ready to share all that I learned with you. As I was brainstorming potential lessons that I felt comfortable with sharing in the post, it hit me… on my 26th birthday, I would be celebrating the day that I officially had a “real” camera in hand for 10 years! What in the world?!

Saying those words definitely makes me feel a little bit teary and a lot a bit old (lol). When I asked for a camera for my 16th birthday, I had no idea what kind of adventure I was about to embark on… Even more than that, I had no idea that this one gift would bring so many of the biggest gifts into my life: some of my best friends, the business that I run full time now & the creativity and expression of capturing my life and the lives of others that I love more than I can express. At 16, I was convinced I would only use my camera to photograph my dog… maybe some flowers in our backyard… and if I was feeling really crazy, I would maybe bring my camera along to gatherings with friends! If only I could go back and tell 16 year old me what the next 10 years would look like… she would have looked at me like I was NUTS, followed quickly by running to a computer to binge of all of the things she wanted to learn on Google and YouTube.

I’ve never really done a “how I got into photography” post, so consider this as an introduction to a post that may come well in the future. Today, instead of sharing 25 things I learned in my 25th year, I’m sharing 10 places my camera has brought me over the last 10 years. (Gosh… I’m not sure why writing that makes me so emotional) I have no idea where I would be in life if it hadn’t been for that Nikon D5000 I opened on my 16th birthday or the people that photography has brought into my life. I’m so, so incredibly grateful for those throughout my journey as a photographer that believed in me, that shared everything they know with me, and that told me I can do this. You know who you are, and I hope you know just how grateful I am for your presence in my life.

Enjoy a recap of some of my favorite moments that I got to experience with camera in hand that have brought some incredible people into my life! I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve shared A LOT of these images and stories here on the blog. I’ve broken it down by what I’m currently doing, what I did in college, and what I did immediately following graduation. How lucky I am to have received such an amazing gift 10 years ago to the day?! Now… if you need me, I’ll be celebrating by teaching a heated barre class, enjoying some grain-free goodies, spending time with friends & shopping for a new healthcare plan. #thisis26

Currently:

Weddings

I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I pulled an image from every CKP couples’ wedding! 

This one is probably a pretty obvious one, but never in a million years did I think I would be a full-time wedding photographer. I photographed my first wedding while I was in college, and right away, I knew that this type of photography would be a huge part of my life. If you would have told me then that this would be a major part of my CAREER though, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. I am so beyond lucky to have the opportunity to work with over 65 couples between both lead and second shooting. I cannot wait to work with so many sweet couples in the future!

PS if you want to become a #CKPCouple yourself, click here!

Business & brand stories

“Official” business and branding packages are relatively new as a CKP offering, but I have actually been telling brand and business stories for years! I fell in love with this style of photography back in college and have felt so lucky to be able to continue to do this throughout the last couple of years. As a small business owner myself, there is something so meaningful about celebrating the lives and businesses of other entrepreneurs. I know just how hard we all work, and there is something I find so sweet in being able to pour just a little bit back into the small business community. Just last month, I launched brand new branding experiences (combined with mentoring!!), and I can’t wait to watch this side of my business grow. It has been so touching to see y’all’s excitement while connecting with you and learning about your businesses. Sending all of the hugs and gratitude your way!

PS if you want to learn more about branding and mentoring experiences, click here!

College:

THON

I pulled just a super small fraction of the photos I took during my senior year THON back in 2016! I have about a million more where these came from.

This is probably one of my favorite opportunities my camera has ever brought me. Not only did THON bring so many of my best friends into my life, but having the opportunity to photograph for this amazing organization gave my photography a purpose that I didn’t know was possible. For those of you that may not know, THON is a yearlong fundraising and awareness campaign for childhood cancer culminating in a 46 hour no sitting no sleeping dance marathon. Just a few weeks ago, THON 2020 raised over $11.6 million for Four Diamonds! I was lucky enough to be a THON Photography Committee Member for three years, and my senior year, I got to lead the committee with one of my good friends. THON taught me so much about photography and teamwork and how to love others well through work that you are passionate about. The link in the header will take you to THON.org where you can learn more about the cause.

PS if you’ve ever wondered how I met Savannah, we met through THON my freshman year when she was my committee’s Captain!

Penn State Graduation Photos

I started to pull a collage of Penn State grad photos… but honestly, there were way too many sessions! Instead, I’m sharing ALLL my gratitude here for the Penn State grads that trusted me to document this sweet season of their time at State.

When I was at Penn State, this was one of my favorite things and one of the biggest opportunities that helped me start and grow my business. I wish I could count how many grad sessions I did, but even more than that, I wish I had a tally of how much time I spent waiting in the Lion Shrine line! (Penn State grads and photogs… you feel me here!) After 7 years of photographing Penn State grads, I decided that I would be letting this portion of my business go. This was definitely such a hard decision, but I am so grateful for the season & am even more excited to have the opportunity to send referrals to photographers that were in my shoes when I was at Penn State! Fast forward a few years, and I am now photographing the weddings of some of the seniors that I worked with a few years ago. SO surreal and SO many feels!!

Beaver Stadium Sidelines

Honestly, I feel like a more appropriate title to this blog post would be “Cool things Caity did in college…”

Anyways… if you ask me if I like football, chances are, I’ll usually tell you that I only really care about Penn State Football and JJ Watt because that’s the truth. My junior year of college, I was lucky enough to photograph all of Penn State’s home games from the sidelines! These days… I’m lucky if I can catch a score update on my phone in between events on wedding days! This was an incredible experience where I learned all about how gross the sidelines of the field really are (but how nice so many of the people are), how fast batteries die in the cold, how to position yourself to dodge players and incoming sports equipment in a split second, and how much I love on-field sports and lifestyle photography.

Pope Francis’s Visit to Philly

If you haven’t picked up on this yet, I was a photojournalism major at Penn State! Though I eventually learned that traditional photojournalism wasn’t the path my life would take (more on that later), I’m so thankful for the learning experiences I had in college. One particularly interesting one brought one of my classes to Philly for a full weekend where we documented the crowds, told stories of people that traveled from all over the country to be there, and staked out on a curb for 12+ hours for the Pope’s parade. I totally neglected to bring snacks and was a hangry little photojournalist by the end of it, but I still look back on this experience as a huge highlight of my time playing photojournalist in college.

Sean and Curtis

Two of the most determined & inspirational people I’ve ever met. I was lucky enough to work on two extended story projects with two incredibly talented athletes towards the end of my time in school. I’ll let their stories speak for themselves… these guys are awesome! While both stories were primarily focused on storytelling through photos, both of these projects also incorporated some video too. See below:

Sean’s Story

Curtis’s Story

Now… a little fun fact: When I graduated from Penn State, I thought I would actually give up photography to work in social media or marketing full time with a side in fitness. Burnout is a real dream crusher, and while my photojournalism days were incredible, they left me feeling a little drained. Competing visions for stories and crazy schedules/expectations left me feeling ready to put photography behind me for good. I put my camera away for a while, and after a few months, I missed it more than anything. I have to say… I’m so happy that I decided to pick it back up and seriously decided to pursue the styles of photography that light me up. Though a little unrelated, I felt like that was important to mention this season at this point in the highlights. Traditional photojournalism, while an incredible field filled with journalists that I admire and respect like crazy, wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. All too often, we share the good with no reference to the tough, and that can lead to some pretty serious comparison and distortion of reality. These days, I love using what I learned during my time as a photojournalist to document wedding days and portrait sessions.

Post-Grad:

Washington, DC Women’s March

This was one of the coolest things I think I photographed in DC… partially because of the people I got to meet and partially because it got me back into photographing things just for me! After the inauguration in 2017, I realized just how much I missed my photojournalism days, so I decided to head down to the Mall during the Women’s March and photographed the day and interviewed a few of the people that were there. It was super empowering to hear the stories of why people decided to attend the women’s march. The link above will take you to the blog post with all of the quotes and stories from the day!

The Archibald Project Media Mission to Ethiopia

I’ve had the hardest time finding the words to put to this part of this post! This experience was probably one of the most incredible and life-changing experiences I’ve ever had and was a really amazing way to use my photography to give back to causes that I care deeply about. Just over three years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with The Archibald Project to document the stories of the Selamta Project. I broke down everything you need to know about the amazing organizations I got to work with in the blog posts linked below… if you’re feeling a little lost, keep scrolling! Both of these organizations do incredible things in the world of caring for vulnerable children. Since, it has been so inspiring to watch the changes and growth in the organizations I got to work with, and it has been so sweet to watch the lives of my teammates evolve too. The header link will take you to The Archibald Project‘s home on the web. To learn more about Selamta Family Project, click here!

Tune in below for all of my blog recaps. (One of the craziest things to see is how much my style has changed since 2017!!)

MEET THE ARCHIBALD PROJECT

MEET THE SELAMTA FAMILY PROJECT

THE ARCHIBALD PROJECT MEDIA MISSION RECAP | POST #1

MEET HABTIE AND THE SELAMTA FAMILY PROJECT 

MEET THE TEAM!

USO-Metro

*Insert countless hours of video clips and a handful of images here!*

My first fulltime job post-grad was actually in VIDEO! Crazy, right?! A portion of my photojournalism degree was focused on video, and though video truly isn’t my passion, I learned A LOT through my experiences with the USO! I got to meet and work with countless incredible people through my time at the USO and loved recording in-depth stories of volunteers, service members & military spouses the most. I have to say… working a full-time job in a creative field while growing a creative business and teaching fitness classes is a quick way to lead to burnout, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience— it taught me so much. The header link will take you over to their YouTube page! If you do some scrolling, you may just be able to find some of my old work!

If you’ve made it this far, I’m sending you ALL the hugs, friend! Thank you for your interest and support in my adventures!

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