I started my career as a photographer.
If I'm totally honest with myself, I think my interest in photography occurred because I always wanted to be an artist but never thought I had enough skill and vision to physically create something brand new with my hands. I'm not a terrible painter or a horrible drawer, I'm decent, but I am also very impatient. I never wanted to work on something for more than a few hours in order to see the final product. This lead me to find ways where I could experiment with light, color, composition, and balance and receive more immediate gratification. (Funny thought, now that I create videos and the final product takes days, weeks, or months to complete.)
Photography wasn't as popular of a career when I was growing up, as it is now. Therefore when I went to college I didn't really think I could focus on it as my major. I fought my heart and followed my mind for a while. I dappled in Graphic Design, and then Psychology. I even went so far as to try and do a double major in Psychology and Photography because I still didn't know if I could make a living through photography. Eventually I realized that I was being silly, I couldn't take over 20 hours of classes a semester and still enjoy life, so in a roundabout way I declared myself as a Technical Photography major at Appalachian State University.
After graduation I moved back in with my parents. Thankfully my parents are some of my best friends and moving back home was easy and comfortable. It wasn't the most fulfilling experience, feeling as if I was taking steps backwards instead of forwards, but I continued to remind myself of the gift it was. I was able to live cheaper, travel with a friend in Europe for a while, and explore what my next step in life would be without the stresses of life weighing down on me. And I lived in a beautiful place while being surrounded by people who love and support me.
Eventually, my career as an entrepreneur began under the simple name of Kathryn Ray Photography. I wasn't quite sure what I felt passionate about the most yet, but I knew I just had to start somewhere. I explored all different types of photography options, some enjoyable and some not so much: senior portraits, real estate, weddings, editorial, and families. In the meantime I started to indulge my interest in video. I had never gotten the chance to take any classes in our degree program but I still wanted to learn, so I decided to teach myself. I started creating little mini films of nature and people in my life. I would stay up for hours late at night, sitting in bed with my laptop atop the comforter, editing and exploring in my personal video projects.
I loved it. I got to choose the music that set the mood. I was able to capture movement and tell more of a story. I was able to add sound effects and choose where each clip belonged and match scene changes with beats in the song. I was my own movie team and it felt exciting. I knew I had found something I was not only capable of doing, but wanted to do for people.
Thankfully a friend allowed me to film her wedding very last minute and even paid me enough to cover my expenses plus some. I am forever grateful. Her kindness and belief in me in that one moment has brought me to this point in my life doing a job that I love and serving lovely people.
As time went by and I began to do more films under Kathryn Ray Photography as well as photography, I knew it just didn't make sense. I wanted to do mainly wedding films, but my name didn't reflect that. I also was working at an Elementary School at the time in order to pay the bills while my business grew, but I found that I was drained and exhausted every day after work. My introverted, highly-sensitive nature didn't have what it took to work 2 full time jobs. Especially not one interacting with hundreds of children. I had to make a big and scary decision.
At the end of that school year, I decided I wasn't going to return. I chose against a steady income with benefits and a retirement account to instead have an unsure inconsistent future doing something I enjoyed, and I'm so glad I did. I spent that summer planning, rebranding, and not long after Evergreen Era Films was created!
It hasn't been easy. Starting a business is confusing and it takes a lot of work to figure out what steps to take. You have to be very proactive and do a lot of research. There are also many days of doubt and insecurity as a creative and a slowly growing business owner. There have been many days I just flat out ask myself "Am I going to make this work?", but I just continue to do whatever I can to learn and grow and serve people the best that I can.
Then there are those days that feel great and encouraging and exciting. Days when I've sent off a film for a couple and receive back a kind and warm message about how much they love it. Days where my creative friends tell me how much they admire what I have done and see the beauty in what I do. Days when I realized I set my own schedule and can work hard as well as give myself grace and rest when I need it. These are the days I work for.
I believe that my background in photography plays a big role in the work I create now. I came in with a trained eye for balance, frame, composition, and color. I didn't come in to this industry knowing just the technical details. I didn't come in to this with tons of fancy gear and a focus on what kinds of "perfect" shots I can get. I came in to this by choice because of how much I love the stories that can be told through video and how interactive it can be. I came in to this knowing that I want to tell peoples stories in the most honest way possible and it's not about the gear that I use but the feel and the moments I capture.
How thankful I am that I allowed myself the time and the honesty and the trust to follow what what I wanted for myself. How thankful I am for all the people who have believed in me and supported me, whether it is by kind words, monetary compensation (I'm talking to you wonderful parents), assisting me and encouraging my dreams (yes you, Ian Selig), or hiring me as your videographer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
You have changed my world.