I got these Dahlias at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market this morning. Aren’t they lovely?!
About two years ago, I started Jenny Tenney Photography. I started photographing weddings in 2006 when I was still in college at UNC, but it was 3 years later that I took a chance and started my own business, focusing on photography and video full time. I had just moved back to Chapel Hill after spending 6 months in Greensboro where I interned at the newspaper and worked as a waitress at a fancy steak restaurant. Needless to say, I didn’t have much money saved up. Actually, I didn’t have any. I was incredibly fortunate because my parents believed in my dream and were kind enough to invest just enough money into my business to help me get started with a website, some new equipment, business cards, the bare necessities.
I was living in a little apartment and watched every penny I spent. It was kind of scary. There were a lot of unknowns. Would I make enough money to pay my bills? What if I didn’t book any weddings? Do I really know what I am doing? I didn’t know what I was doing, but I made it my mission to figure it out as quickly as possible. I considered looking for some other job on the side just for the money, but Aaron, my boyfriend, convinced me not to take a 2nd job and concentrate 100% on getting my business off the ground- thanks sweetie! I only shot a few weddings that year and am so grateful for those people who believed in me and took a chance hiring a photographer with little experience. It was the work I did for Our State Magazine that kept me fed. Slowly but surely my business started to grow as I invested more time, energy and money and it was only a short while before I was getting pretty busy.
Being a photographer is a fun job. It’s exciting, inspiring and challenging. Definitely challenging. Running a business is not something I knew how to do when I started, and I am still learning as I go. I didn’t take any business classes in college. I was never really interested in that kind of stuff until it was staring me in the face. I’ve always loved making art and relationships. That part came more naturally, though I am still learning new things every day in that area as well. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all the editing, record-keeping, emails, and the million and one tasks that accumulate every day. But you know what? I love the challenge of doing so many different tasks, all related to my main goal- capturing moments and creating beautiful memories for my clients.
I am always building my business, my relationships, my artwork, my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more than this opportunity to build my own life in my own way. The truth is that every minute is not filled with fun and excitement, and the majority of my time is spent quietly sitting at my computer in my office, editing photos. That part can get a little tedious, but it’s all worth it on days when I am out shooting, connecting with my clients and creating something beautiful for them. It’s a gift to witness a couple’s wedding day. It’s such a personal and momentous occasion, and I feel profoundly lucky each time I get to see how a couple and their friends and family celebrate marriage. It is so fulfilling to send a couple their wedding photos and hear how much the pictures mean to them.
I love to imagine my clients sharing their images with their children and grandchildren one day. I can’t get enough of my family history in photographs, and I wish there was more of a visual record in my family. I think preserving memories is really, really important. When you grow up and realize the people in your life aren’t going to be there forever, it’s really comforting to have something you can hold in your hands that reminds you of who they were when they were living. My grandma got Alzheimer’s when I was a young teenager, and there are so many questions I would have liked to ask her about her life that I didn’t think of when I was young. Now that she’s gone, all I have left are my memories and the old black and white photographs of her life. I don’t know who took them and that part doesn’t really matter. I don’t mind if my clients don’t remember my name, but I hope that their kids and the following generations will see the photos I took for them and cherish those memories.
This is why I put every ounce of myself into my work. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Can’t wait to meet my next client and shoot my next wedding. I am really looking forward to making a home studio where I can meet clients. That will be happening in the next year or two if everything goes according to plan. Next month I’ll be trying out a photo booth setup for the first time at a wedding. This October I’ll shoot my first destination wedding in Malibu, California at the gorgeous Adamson House. I have so much to learn and lots of room to grow, and I’m excited to see how much I can improve as a person, as a photographer and as a business owner. For anyone who has read this far, thanks for caring. It’s really awesome that people trust me with their precious memories, and for that I am forever grateful! Thanks for making my dreams come true. : )