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Rising Stars: Meet Bailey Wooten

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bailey Wooten.

Hi Bailey, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Back in 2017, I was a music major and a soon-to-be sophomore in college. The music program was taking everyone abroad to Italy to play at a festival. I was asked to go and I was super excited because it was my first time out of the country, my first time on a plane, and I was doing it all without any of my family. Every single time I told someone where I was going the first thing they would say was, “make sure you take lots of pictures!!”

I was already planning to since I was so excited to be going, but I made it a point to take as many as possible so that I could show everyone back home every little detail of where I’d been and what I’d been doing. So I go to Italy, take tons of pictures, come back and begin to show everyone. Except iPhone photos really didn’t do justice to how beautiful everything was. I felt dissatisfied with how little detail and emotion my iPhone photos captured.

So I started researching cameras because I wanted to be able to take better photos. I knew next to nothing about cameras or photography so I researched a ton and figured out what camera would be best for a beginner just wanting to take some travel photos. I finally decided on which camera I wanted and asked for it for Christmas. My parents surprised me with the exact camera I wanted just in time for another trip abroad!

The next time, I went abroad I took my camera and took an insane amount of photos. I did feel like they were better quality and it was fun to mess around with the zoom lens and get different angles, take videos on it, etc. But I knew I still had a lot of learning to do. Once I was back from this trip and had posted all of my new photos online a friend of mine saw them and reached out about me taking her graduation pictures. I was really hesitant at first, positive that I had no interest in taking pictures of people, I only wanted to take travel photos.

But on the other hand, I had no idea when I was going to be traveling next and I was still dying to use my new camera. So. I said yes, and cliche as it is, the rest really is history. I didn’t even edit the photos (I was very beginner) but she still loved them and put them on her graduation invitations and I thought it was the coolest thing ever! My work was printed and people were holding it, putting it on their fridges, posting it on Facebook and it was awesome to see my photos in that way.

After that, I became obsessed with learning more, researching how to edit, what lenses to buy, and what poses to do. I really went all in. I asked all my friends to model for me, asked my parents to model for me, used my dogs as models, and learned as much as I possibly could. I read all the books, new or old, listened to all the podcasts, and watched as many YouTube videos as I could (and still do every single one of these things today!). Eventually, my friends would tell their friends and I started getting real clients who wanted to pay me for my work.

Fast forward 3-4 years later and I am a full-time elopement, wedding, and portrait photographer! I have learned so much in the past couple of years, worked with so many amazing people, and taken pictures in some really cool places, and I truly love what I do.

I get to be there for once-in-a-lifetime moments like weddings, travel to really cool places, and photograph intimate elopements, and I get to meet and work with so many amazing seniors that are moving on to the next chapter of their lives. I never dreamed of being a photographer before a few years ago and now it’s my biggest dream and a goal I work towards every day.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have had so much support and love along this journey that I am beyond thankful, but it has not always been a smooth or easy road. The biggest struggle along the way was trying to understand if this was just a hobby or if it could be a career, and making the jump from one to the other is scary. I graduated college at the height of the pandemic and there weren’t exactly a bunch of people hiring at that time.

Most businesses were still closed for long periods of time, people were staying home, and the last thing anyone needed was a photographer. Having that faith in myself to become a businesswoman (and become one in the middle of a pandemic), support myself and my business financially, do my own taxes, know when and how to raise my rates, know how to market myself, handle customer service, all while taking and editing the photos and actually being a photographer.

It wasn’t always easy and it still isn’t. Trying to build a business from the ground up by yourself and without any real background knowledge in that area is definitely hard and can be taxing at times. I’ve had to remember to ask for help when I need it, know when to take advice and when to do things my way, and it is still something I am learning and growing in every single day.

Another really hard aspect of this job in comparison. There is a growing number of people in this field and with social media, it’s hard to escape seeing what everyone else is posting. It’s hard not to compare my images to theirs, not become jealous that they have more likes and followers on Instagram than I do, that their editing is better, they’re booking more weddings than me, and they are able to shoot in better locations than I am, etc. It never stops.

It’s always in the back of my head. But I try to remember that we are all taking different paths, and we’re all in different chapters of our lives. Social media is a highlight reel and I know those people have struggled as well. As much as society tries to tell us that life is a competition, I can’t look at it like that, or I will never stop comparing myself to everyone around me.

I have learned (and am still learning) to focus on bettering MY work, MY client experience, and myself as a business and to stop focusing on everyone else around me. I constantly remind myself that I have something to offer that no one else does, I have a perspective that no one else does, and my clients come to me for a reason: ME.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a wedding/elopement and portrait photographer based out of Missouri. I started off shooting anything and everything that I could shoot so that I could learn as much as possible and experience every type of shoot. I’ve learned that elopements and portraits are where my heart is! Weddings are great, they are so special, and I do love shooting them.

However, the goal is to eventually only shoot intimate ceremonies in a place that means something to the couple. Whether that’s in their backyard, in a national park, etc. I want to incorporate travel into my work as often as possible and elopements allow me to do that while also deeply connecting with the couple. I also really love portraits. I think we as people love to take pictures of other things but rarely ever take enough pictures of ourselves.

We are growing and changing every day and I think it’s important to have pictures of that as well as all the other things we take pictures of. Portraits are so fun to me because I think they can really remind someone of how beautiful they are. They can see themselves in a different light and hopefully see some of their beauty through my eyes and camera lens. I also love them because we often take them at pivotal moments in our lives.

Right after high school before we move on to college, when we graduate college, etc. We will never be this young again, in the same stage of life again, and I just think it’s so fun and important to capture all those feelings and emotions before life changes and we aren’t that same version of ourselves again.

I think what sets me apart from others is my love for travel and want to incorporate that into my work. It’s how I got into photography and I want to use photography to show others the world. That was always my goal. Somewhere along the way, I started taking photos of people, but I never intended to stop taking travel photos. I wanted to find a way to merge the two and elopements and travel photoshoots are the best way to do that!

I truly feel the most inspired when I’m traveling so being able to do that with other couples, exploring new places with them while also photographing them, there’s nothing better!

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
The biggest way to support me and other photographers is to book with us, tell your friends about us and recommend us to other people (word of mouth goes sooo far!), follow us on our socials, and like, comment, and share our posts!

I am always looking to book more weddings, elopements, and portrait sessions and you can book with me by emailing me or following me on social media and messaging me there! My Instagram is @baileywootenphoto and my Facebook is Bailey Wooten Photography.

Pricing:

  • Portrait sessions start at $275
  • Weddings start at $1400
  • Elopements start at $1500

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Bailey Wooten Photography

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