Life is a Journey | Luxury Boudoir Photographer
Life is a journey.
Isn’t that the truth? Life is a journey made up of peaks and valleys; we are either entering a crisis or coming out of one. Throughout our lives we will experience more ups and downs that imaginable, and yet we stay the course, focus on the path, and move ahead. I’ve only realized the reality of this truth in the past five years of my life. I could have never imagined that the painful path I started on would lead me into the blessings I’m experiencing today. If you’ve never read the book, A Shepherds Look at Psalm 23, I HIGHLY recommend it. The book is an amazing comparison on God and a real shepherd, and truly it is a life changing depiction full of clarity that most of us never really grasp.
“It is there that I will discover He only can really satisfy me. It is He who makes sense and purpose and meaning come out of situations which otherwise could be but a mockery to me. Suddenly life starts to have significance. I discover I am the object of His special care and attention. Dignity and direction come into the events of my life, and I see them sorting themselves out into a definite pattern of usefulness. All of this is refreshing, stimulating, invigorating. My thirst for reality in life is assuaged, and I discover that I have found that satisfaction in my Master.” – Phillip Keller
These powerful words brought me back into God’s arms, as I realized everything Keller was saying is true. Over the years, I have been through much turmoil and pain. We lost our son Leo in 2009, after his very premature birth. We were blessed with 30 hours of precious life with him, and those 30 hours with him made more of an impact on my life than anything I’ve ever experienced… or so I thought. I was completely “broken”, and seeking God day and night, aching to “lie down in green pastures.” I remember sitting in my kitchen during the early morning hours, watching the sunrise as I spoke to the Lord in prayer. Each day the sun rose and each day I asked God, not WHY, but for WHAT PURPOSE? When I held my son in my arms as he passed, a peace came over me and the holy spirit whispered to my heart that He was “preparing the way ahead for me”. I didn’t know what He meant until now.
Months after Leo passed, it was placed on my heart to jump head-first into my photography business. I had a pretty good thing going, but realized I needed something to focus on and for some reason, God was saying “take pictures”. So that is what I did. I began shooting weddings almost full-time while managing a household, husband, and daughter. I found space in that first year to just “breathe” and met some amazing clients and friends along the way. Though business was going well, there was a “gap”, and I knew God was preparing me for something, I just didn’t know what. I pleaded with God for the answer, not wanting to wait on His perfect timing. I just kept thinking “now what Lord?”
In 2011, after much prayer, we took the leap again and I got pregnant for a third time. My pregnancy was watched as closely as it could be from a medical stand-point. Things looked perfect, and I found some peace believing that all would be well this time around. But God had other plans for me again. My wedding season in 2011 was my busiest yet, and I was booked solid for the entire summer. I remember waking up the morning of my third wedding of the season, 27 weeks pregnant, but excited to capture my bride’s day. And then, God gave me a hint to be “ready” for something. I got everything packed for the wedding and put in my car, kissed the family and was ready to head out. I turned the key in the ignition, and nothing happened. I tried again, still nothing. In that moment, I KNEW something was up. I had no time for car trouble; I had a wedding to get to! So I prayed for the Lord to calm my nerves, jumped in a friends car, and headed out to the wedding.
Meagan and Sean’s wedding day was beautiful. Perfect weather, warm sunshine, and an amazing location. From the moment I arrived with my second shooter, we began capturing this amazing bride and we really had one of the best times ever in all the weddings we had photographed together. It was warm out, so I made sure I was hydrated. I was feeling achy, like most pregnant women, and so I didn’t think much of it as the festivities went on. I came home that night relieved to have shot an amazing wedding and began to start downloading all of the wedding images from the day. It was after midnight, when I instantly knew something wasn’t right. I sat in shock realizing I was bleeding. My husband raced me to the hospital, and after a few hours of trying to get my labor to stop, I was rushed into another emergency c-section and gave birth to our son Enzo, weighing 2 lbs 7oz. I laid on the operating table arguing with the Lord, saying, “really? REALLY? AGAIN? Why LORD??” and I prayed for my son because once again I was reminded that God is in control.
We spent 80 days in NICU as Enzo slowly got stronger and bigger. I ran my wedding business out of his NICU room for the 3 months we were there. If I had a wedding to photograph, I had a family member at the hospital with Enzo. I edited every wedding that year from my laptop in that NICU room, held client meetings there, everything. I knew I had to keep photographing… something on my heart said, DON’T STOP. There were days that I wanted to scream, days I wanted to throw my laptop, days I felt so hopeless, waiting in fear for my sons health, but I stayed the course. Enzo came home from NICU in early October and by then I was ready for a break in photography. I spent the first few months caring for him at home, and adjusting to life with a 4 year old and a newborn preemie son.
But, God still had other plans for me, and in 2012 I had two brides randomly ask me if I did boudoir sessions. OF COURSE I said, and we booked a swanky hotel room in May of 2012 for their shoots. I spent about a week before researching boudoir photography and posing, but wasn’t too concerned with my skill set. The day arrived and my first client came filled with excitement. As I clicked those first few images, something in my heart began to swell, and it occurred to me, that I LOVE BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY! I wrestled with God, saying “come ON! I’m a wedding photographer, how can I start something else!?”.
After those 2 sessions I was hooked, and craved to capture women in this amazing way because I saw the beauty my work produced, but more importantly the confidence it brought to my clients. I was hungry for more. I was ready to take a leap and figured I would just add boudoir sessions as an option to all my wedding clients. It sounded like the perfect plan! Perfect until I attended a wedding photography conference in Dallas, TX with the FABULOUS Scarlett & Stephen Knuth. I arrived EAGER to hear about their own success in the wedding industry and just KNEW I would walk away with some great ideas to implement into my wedding business, but God had OTHER plans for me. I got an idea that had nothing to do with weddings. I sat in my chair at the workshop arguing with God about this new idea he placed on my heart. I took a deep breath, asked for His strength, and raised my hand. After being called upon I blurted out of nowhere…
“I want to start a photography brand that empowers women, through boudoir… or something like that.”
I couldn’t believe what I had just said, but once I said it, God put into motion bigger ideas than I could have dreamed. I came home from the workshop, and couldn’t rest until I launched my newest brand, Kellie Mae – Luxury Boudoir Photography. I had a completely full summer of weddings booked, but spent every extra moment I had building my new Boudoir brand and getting the word out to the world that I have a heart for touching the lives of women and truly changing how they view themselves.
I believe that ALL women are BEAUTIFUL. No matter what size you are, or age you are, you are ALWAYS loved. This life we’ve been given is precious and we should celebrate who we are, just as we are!
My boudoir studio started small, and its overall purpose was simple – capturing every client’s unique beauty and showcasing it through the art of photography. About 6 months into launching Kellie Mae, I realized that I needed a studio space to accommodate the amount of clients I was photographing weekly. I took over my house and created a full studio in the daylight basement of my home, a wardrobe/hair and makeup room in my master bedroom, and a beautiful client viewing room in my living room to showcase my client’s images in a one on one environment.
In October of 2012, I took another leap and attended The Boudoir Diva’s Workshop in San Diego. I learned SO much about the boudoir industry and took with me some photography techniques. I had wrestled with the idea of booking my OWN boudoir session while I was down in San Diego, and sure enough, they had ONE session spot open during my visit. I booked it immediately and prepared for my own camera debut.
I arrived for my own shoot excited! I wasn’t nervous, because honestly I had already been shooting boudoir clients for some time, and I was more eager to see what amazing images I might get of myself. What I didn’t know, was how much healing I would yield from taking the time for ME, to capture MY OWN beauty.
I sat in front of the preview screen watching my images pop up, and reality hit me in the face – I WAS STILL BEAUTIFUL! After having three children, loosing our son, depression, a scarred body, self-doubt, extra pounds…. I WAS STILL BEAUTIFUL. It was in that moment that I saw what God wanted for me and my boudoir business. I realized it was so much more than just pictures, it was redeeming women’s self-confidence, and showing her how to fall back in love with WHO she is, JUST as she is.
I came home changed forever and couldn’t rest until my vision was in full effect. I searched for about a month for the perfect make-up artist. I was led by the Holy Spirit to put an ad on Craigslist saying that I was searching for a make-up artist. I got a few inquires, but one stood out to me especially. I met Harmony Ray for coffee one afternoon, and instantly I knew we had the same ideas about touching women’s lives. I knew God had just placed the right person in my life to bring Kellie Mae to the world.
I knew I wanted to go “all in” this time around. I wasn’t having any more children, and I was ready to run a successful business and touch the lives of women. Again, God’s perfect timing came through, and for some reason I decided to browse Scarlett and Stephens Facebook pages. I clicked the “About” section and sure enough, I saw that they too had been working on something amazing, REmix Design and Branding.
Immediately I sent an inquiry to Stephen, asking for more information, and signed with them almost immediately. Scarlett and Stephen took on my Kellie Mae Brand and within a few weeks flew from Florida to Washington to shoot my new promo video. They designed my new website, and brought my brand up to where I wanted it to be; a true Luxury Boudoir Brand. Our press release about Kellie Mae went out April 7th, and within the first 48 hours, I had over 30,000 hits to my new website. The press release went viral, and Kellie Mae has been featured worldwide! Kellie Mae was also featured in Time Square NYC, showing off one of the amazing images I took of a beautiful client of mine.
I can officially say that I NEVER, EVER dreamed that I would be sitting her today, shooting boudoir, having my work featured in Time Square! I’m in AWE of the plans God puts into action, planting seeds years in advance, only to see those seeds turn into the fruits of our labor.
This weekend is my OFFICIAL launch Party for Kellie Mae, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am truly happy and excited to be celebrating these accomplishments. My advice to everyone, whether in personal life or business, is to SEEK THE LORD in all you do. Even though we will walk through dark times, take heart; He has bigger plans for your life than you could EVER imagine, if you just invite the holy spirit into your daily life, asking to experience all He has in store for you.