February 13, 2019

How My Birthday Led to My Photography Career

Posted in: Uncategorized

I have always loved birthdays.


It’s just that special day that is a reminder that I am one of a kind, unique, and loved. After all, I am a gift from God, chosen to be born, brought to life, to live on Earth (as are you, just as chosen, unique, and loved if no one has told you that lately). So, pretty much every year I do something to celebrate my birthday. Whether it be dinner with friends, a party, or some unique outing, I never let a year go by without some type of celebration (especially after being hospitalized on my birthday in 2012 with a pulmonary embolism, which could have taken me out of here).

Anyway, a few years ago, I gifted myself with a special birthday treat. Little did I know it would lead to the pursuit of a passion that had become

a raisin in the sun.

As a kid, I loved taking pictures. I was always behind a camera and became pretty good at my little point and shoot. In high school, I had interests in television, film, and fashion. I wanted to become a television and film writer/director/producer and a fashion designer/stylist/photographer. Yes, honey, I was a dreamer. With the BIG DREAMS! However, without the grades for scholarships to attend the schools I wanted to attend and knowing that I was not really one of the Drummonds from “Different Strokes,” I was met with a smack in the face of reality. I would go on to study Communication and see how far that would take me.

College was not really my thing, but it was where I really learned some things about myself and the world around me. Although from birth to this day, I have been overweight, I never really felt it-until this post-secondary journey. I was active, had great friends, and fit in pretty-much anywhere I went. College was completely different. I felt fat. I mean F.A.T. From huffing and puffing walking across campus to get to my classes to squeezing into those one piece desks to not having cute clothes to wear to parties and the non-existing dating scene (for me), I just felt it. I was an outcast. My self-confidence began to diminish along with my dreams. How was I going to reach my dreams, especially at my size? Like I said, my dreams were dimming,

but they didn’t quite die.

After graduating, I decided with the little bit of a dream I had left, I would move to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting and possibly a career as a literary agent. Not long after I arrived, The 911 Attacks occurred. I returned home out of fear and just worked a job like normal people do (or so I’m told), while my dream was deferred yet again. After a couple more times of chasing the Hollywood dream, I admitted (at least outwardly) that it wasn’t for me and returned home to my old Kentucky home. Dreams squashed. Or so I thought.

Fast forward several years. Having always loved the show America’s Next Top Model and how the contestants got these amazing makeovers and participated in some incredible photoshoots, I decided that’s what I would do. No, I DID NOT apply for ANTM, silly! I would get a makeover and do a photoshoot to celebrate my birthday. See, by this time in my life, I had gotten over the fat thing-somewhat. I was fat, but still beautiful. Fat, but still sassy. Fat, but still unique in how God created me. So, I wanted to celebrate that-even though I hated being the subject of pictures (as most overweight people do).

This is where it got exciting for me.

During the photoshoot, all of those raisins came racing back into my mind. I was amazed at all of her gear, the lights, the modifiers, the cameras, the everything. So I started asking questions. How do you do that? What is that for? Why did you do that? How do you move that? I’m sure the photographer wished she had never taken my money, because I interrogated her like she was on trial for capital murder. Then it was over. The excitement was put on the back burner, and I went back to life as usual. Dream Deferred. AGAIN.

One year later, for my birthday (of course) I decided to treat myself to a DSLR camera to turn my once deferred dream into a hobby. Or so I thought. A few YouTube videos, personal recommendations, and some phenomenal online courses, and there you have it.

That’s the Story of How I Became a Photographer

Some of you are probably wondering why I decided to share (or overshare) all of this information. Well, I want to encourage you to stop deferring your dream. Whatever it is. No matter how great or seemingly insignificant it is, chase it. It’s never too late. That thing God put in your heart that just won’t go away, chase it. Just open the door. That’s all I did. I bought a camera. $400. When you take a step toward that thing, God will light the path.

He will open door after door and hold your hand as you walk to, through, and beyond your wildest dreams.



  1. L says:

    Amen Sister! I noticed your Big Girl Swag and was amazed by your grace and beauty. You moved in and out of shots in a way that made me, as a Big Girl myself, ashamed of my initial thoughts about what a “photographer” should “look like”. Your work is magnificent! The essence of the images you captured profess the people in time. I have known Ciarra since she was 5. I saw the happy little girl in those pictures. Thank you for not listening to the defferement and moving on to your dream.

  2. Deanna says:

    Wow, I had no idea I had known you all my life. Very interesting. Since I am tuning 40+1 this year, I hope to figure out my purpose soon. I am trying to learn how to walk toward my goal. Thank you for sharing with me.

  3. Mom says:

    Great story Shannon I didn’t even know some of those things. But I do knew God was & is on you side and I pray for you continually.

    God Bless You – And may He Transfer all the strength you need on this Christian Journey.

    Your Sweet

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Louisville, Ky Portrait  Photographer