We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelby Wittie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shelby, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been a Wedding/Elopement & Family Photographer for 7 years now and I became a certified Wedding planner in 2020. 7 years ago I had goals of course, but I didn’t imagine in my wildest dreams of ever being where I am now. And I am so grateful! How I started on this path is very similar to how most other photographers began. At square one! When I first began this journey I was pregnant with son and had a very basic beginners camera. I knew I loved capturing everything, but mainly people. So I started there! At first I focused on younger kids and families because after having my son that was were my focus was. But then as I gained experience, practice and education on all things photography based my passion easily grew into a love for weddings & Elopements. And as many photographers know, photographing a wedding and wedding coordinating sometimes go very hand in hand. I loved the creativity and organization there was behind wedding planning and coordinating so gradually my interest in also becoming a Wedding planner & designer grew and grew until I decided to make it official and get certified! As a whole, starting my own business in the beginning was a way to spend more time with my son while also creating an income to live off of. And now that my son is about to turn 7 (but with the attitude and independence of a 17 year old) and I have a wonderful and supporting husband. This career has become more about creativity and growth, I have even bigger dreams now that I’m trying to chase and that has to be the most amazing part about owning your own business. It’s scary but it’s full of so much freedom and possibility.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It may be cliche, but it rings so true. Patience & determination. I still and will probably always struggle with patience. But if you are determined enough the patience follows. I wish in the beginning I had realized it was more important to learn about the basics of business, such as taxes, licensing, contracts, marketing, and insurance. Before ever picking up my camera and booking shoots. And then once you have done your research and figured all of that out, THEN start looking at what photography styles you like most. What is YOUR brand. Who are the people you want to work with? It took me a long time to figure out my brand, but if I had done my due diligence in the beginning it would have saved me a lot of wasted time on just booking shoots for the income versus actually growing with each shoot I did. But I’m very grateful for those mistakes and oversights. I am fully confident in my brand now and my work because I did make mistakes and i learned so many hard lessons from them. Now I know who I am as a Photographer and as a Wedding Planner. But also as a person, as a mom, as a wife, as a Christian. I truly believe that my work goes hand in hand with my home life. So with each family or bride/groom I meet, I start with getting to know them first. I absolutely love hearing their stories of how they fell in love, how they met, just their journey as a whole. It’s like each new client is a book that I get the honor to start reading. Knowing them makes capturing their special moments so much more authentic.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh where to start! We absolutely love going down to the stock yards in Fort Worth. It’s great for date nights but also for family outings! My husband actually proposed to me down at the stock yards because one of the first dates we went on as a couple was there. The Dallas Arboretum, as a photographer I love this place. But it’s also just a gorgeous spot for a walk or to stop and quite literally smell the roses! The Fort Worth Zoo, I love both the Dallas and Fort Worth zoo, but we live in Fort Worth so we come to the FW zoo more often, and it is always a blast. For Christmas this year my Mom actually “adopted” a Meerkat at the zoo for my son! So he gets to go and give him/her a name and say hi! So now every time we go he’ll be on the lookout for “his” Meerkat. It’s also just a great way to help and give back to all the animals they keep safe there. For a night out, West 7th street in Fort Worth has many awesome bars with games and karaoke. We haven’t been there as much lately due to covid but they do a great job of keeping things sanitary and safe. There are many more places I could list but honestly I’d fill up this whole page! Just get out and about and you’ll find wonderful people and places everywhere! Be sure to shop local! ❤️
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?
My Mom is the person who truly helped me start this career off. If it wasn’t for her help and support I never would have had the opportunities that I did. And am so truly grateful for her and the rest of my family for always being so encouraging. I also owe so much of my growth these past few years to my extremely supportive Husband. Kirkland has not only encouraged me but actively helps me follow some wild and crazy ideas. He also keeps me spiritually grounded in times when things get truly frustrating. I’m constantly reminded through him that Gods blessings and our faith through the hard and frustrating times are apart of his plan too.
For headshots: Brittany Hall with Chasing Sunsets Photography Www.Instagram.com/chasingsunsetsllc For headshot in pink shirt: Bria Pristernik