We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Mae Hess and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah Mae, why did you pursue a creative career?
I believe we all have an inner desire to create. How and what we create can differ for each individual. At times that urge to create can express itself within our own homes (home decor, how/what we put into our wardrobes, or our food, etc), but sometimes we have to go outside our homes to let the full breath of that creativity out. At least that’s why I decided to pursue photography more fully.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my professional photography career only three years ago under the tutelage of my dear friend and wedding photographer, Shillawna Ruffner. After a year under her wing, photographing over 7 weddings, and a magazine spread. I knew I wanted to continue to learn and grow as a photographer and to provide this service to others. It wasn’t an easy decision to take that time away from my family. Every photographer who takes up wedding photographer knowingly signs up for those long days, but with a small newborn and 3 toddlers at the time I knew those days away from my husband would be extra tough. At that time our family did not have very much flexibility with our income so the majority of the income I made from those weddings went towards household needs. It was during this time, that I learned how important photography was to me, that I would do anything to be a part of this incredible community and create art that would impact others. When we moved to Texas the following year I knew I wasn’t ready to become an entrepreneur yet, but I started small by building relationships with others and doing a lot of pro bono photoshoots. Even now, I am only in the beginning stages of my photography business, but I am constantly striving to learn and grow. Following your passion and making a career of it is not easy, but with a good support system, consistent action, and trust in the process (and God) it is possible. Doors and windows can open up for you that you had no idea were there.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my friend had only a week to spend in the Dallas area, we would definitely start with a trip up north to Pilot Point. We’d visit the Strawberry U-Pick farm, Pecan Creek, and check out the lake at Ray Roberts State Park. The next day we’d head out West to Glen Rose, drive thru Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and swim in the river at Big Rocks Park. Back in the DFW area we would eat out at Nico Cocina’s in Carrollton, a lovely mexican food restaurant with a wide back patio and a playground for the little ones. We’d relax by walking along the beautiful greenbelt, visiting the Dallas Arboretum (of course), and visit the beach at Little Elm. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I really have to credit the start of my professional career to Shillawna Ruffner, of Shillawna Ruffner Photography (based in Terra Haute, IN). Shillawna saw some of my photographs that I took of my children and encouraged me to come join her in 2018 as her Second Photographer. Together we shot seven weddings, a magazine spread, and a few couples portraits. She really helped me to see that this hobby of mine could be so much more, and showed me that the spark of creativity within myself could be used to sustain not only myself, but my family and create a much-needed outlet. In addition, I have to thank my husband, Mike Hess, who has been supportive and willing to take on long days, and evenings with our five kids (who were all born within 6 years of each other). Whenever I have expressed the desire to attain more tools, or education he has been very supportive and willing to make sacrifices along with me to see that my passion is realized. Lastly, I have to thank my cousin, Britney Schupple Sessions, who has also been extremely encouraging and up to brainstorming and work through creative hurdles. Her outlook on life and photography is incredibly uplifting and I appreciate her passion for education and knowing your worth.
[Personal Photo taken by Marissa Leland Photography] All other photos taken by Photography of Sarah Mae