The ability to look back means the world to me
Growing up my Grandfather always had a camera with him. Once cameras were small enough he would have his Olympus point and shoot in the front pocket of his button down shirt, always ready to capture something. He literally had multiples of these cameras, with big stickers on the back that he had made that stated who they belonged to in cause they got lost. Although my sister and I would grumble and groan and say "Bampi, not another one," he usually got the shot he wanted. Thinking about it now, I don't know if I ever really knew why he was so in love with taking pictures, but I think it was to hold on to the memories more than it was about the perfect shot.
All these photos landed in albums he would put together. My sister and I were lucky enough to go on trips with our Grandparents almost every summer in their motorhome. Every trip our grandparents would take us on he would give us a small plastic 5x6 album full of the images he had taken. My dad, Bampi's son, was great at capturing all the moments too and always having a camera so between the two of them we were set for life. I loved looking through albums and old photos, I seriously could do it for hours. That and home videos, which they were both amazing at too. You should see my birthday video from the day I was born back in 1987! Scrolling titles and everything, all from one of those giant video cameras. But that's another story for another day.
You would think that being in front of that lens so often it would detour me from wanting to every pick up on myself but that just wasn't true. I remember always having disposable cameras around once I was in middle school. I have so many random pictures of my friends and I riding the bus to or from school, messing around after school, ext. In high school, digital point and shoots were the thing and I defiantly carried that thing with me all the time. I was on the yearbook and got to shoot for that as well as took a photography class where I learned the art of manual shooting and film and developing in a light room. The fun part is I used my dad's old Minolta SRT 102 camera which was my first experience with interchangeable lenses. Learning the photography world in this class was so much fun. Different styles and ways of shooting helped me so much with being intentional more than just point and shoot.
Next stop was College, and the beginning of Facebook, yes, for those of you young ones out there, Facebook used to be only for college kids and you had to have a college email to get in. We did have MySpace of course before that but I don't remember the days of this as well. We had some wild times and guess who took photos at every second. This girl. I posted a ton! Haha, every Thursday night at the local country line dancing bar, every football game, every embarrassing moment in the dorm room hallways. These days, that would not be allowed but it was fun, and for the time being, just for us college kids, no parents allowed. Our group of friends from College is still close and our memories are forever saved thanks to these cameras and although there might be nights or moments we want to forget we still have a laughs over flipping through them on social media. Shoot, I even made them all dress up in white and denim (don't judge me), and do senior pictures as a group! Evidence below.
It was in my college years that I got my first DSLR and lens kit from Costco for Christmas one year from my parents. Man I loved that thing and being able to use it differently then a point and shoot. By the time we graduated some of my friends were engaged, a couple work friends were having babies, and I thought why don't I start getting into capturing some of these moments for them so they can share on the ever expanding world of Social Media. Nothing was official back then cause I was still in the mindset I would be using my Marketing degree for a "real job" once I graduated in May 2009, but I defiantly started to practice.
I started my Facebook page for my "business" in 2012. "Life's Event's by Tiff" was my name, I had passions for cake decorating, party/wedding planning and photography so I thought, why not have something that can do it all. Obviously you can see were my passions fit the world I was living in. Right out of college, friends are getting married, starting families, all the things, and as a 2/3 Wing Enneagram, Hostess with the Mostest mentality I have, you can see how I was getting lots of opportunities to make this little side gig a reality. My first albums I shared on this page were Cakes, Party Décor, and then some Galleries. These photo shoots, mostly Seniors (my sister was the first), Maternity, and actually my cousins micro wedding were some of the first things I took. I think I got $50-$75 for some of the first sessions I did that year. Little secret, the original photo galleries can still be found on my page today cause I just love that history, I did take the cakes and décor off once I changed my name to just focus on photography.
Although I did this on the side, my Career was at Kraft Foods as a Retail and then Food Service Sales team member. That is actually were I met my Husband. We got married in 2014, I then moved to Colorado Springs after our wedding, rented out my home in Denver and settled into our new life. Work was going great until we were bought by Heinz and I lost my job one week after we bought our current house in 2015. Started a new job at MyWedding.com which I commuted to Castle Rock for every day. It was fun getting to be on the sales side of an industry I obviously loved, and getting to talk to photographers, wedding venues and florists across the country. During this time I got pregnant with our first daughter and ended up not going back to work after having her, the company had also just been purchased and I was not about to go through that again.
Lifestyle newborn photos were all the rage in 2016, so I hired a gal that I found on the local neighborhood mom's group on Facebook. This whole experience of having someone come to you and document you in your space was just so awesome to me. We got to talking and she mentioned she was a mom of 3 and this is her full time gig and I was so in love with this idea. We got to talking and she encouraged me to pick up the camera and just start shooting again. So I did. I broke out the DSLR and the original box I still have from Costco and found the DVD in there that helped you learn manual and really dove in. Fast forward this photographer, Brittny Jones of Twig and Fig Photo Co is still my mentor and one of my best friends. She still captures our family every single year and I just love how we found each other.
So, stay at home mom life is a struggle. I just couldn't handle not doing something creative or for me. I know that sounds bad but, I just wanted something to work the other side of my brain. When our first was about to turn one I purchased a Circuit machine to help me make the décor I wanted for her party. This opened the doors to my official first business. MAK CREATIONS LLC. Everything took off like crazy due to that same mom's group on Facebook that I had found Brittny on just a year prior. I was making so much stuff for people it was wild. Shirts, birthday décor, keychains, teachers gifts, it was nuts. Now, photography was still happening too but I was so busy with this I was shocked. But if I can do this through this mom's group on Facebook, I can do this with photography too. For the first time I advertised Mini Sessions in April of 2017 for Mother's Day photos.
This was now real. I was working with people outside of my friends circle. I did 20 min minis with 3 moms and their kids May of 2017, $50 a session. After that, I did Fall Minis with more people outside my friend group. The ball started rolling. In November of 2017 I changed my name on Facebook from "Life's Event by Tiff" and officially filed T.Mak Photography under MAK CREATIONS LLC. Now I was a stay at home mom of a one year old, running two business. Unreal.
In 2018 I joined an online Photography school called Unraveled Academy, it has been so wonderful for me to be able to continue to grow in my skills all from home. They do have in person classes every now and then but for the most part I have done most of my learning through their online platform. To take you back to the Facebook page I have, man is it crazy to scroll through the years and see the difference in my skills. It's truly wild. The businesses both continued to grow which was insane as well. I had my second Daughter at the end of 2018 and things started to change for me a little. The crafting business got harder and harder with two babies running around. I still did a lot of but I started to drop the product offerings a bit. Stuck with shirts, glitter tumblers and cups. Eventually the business would dwindle as photography took off.
2020 was a wild year for all of us. I was booking regularly before the pandemic and super excited about the new families I was meeting thanks to all the referrals from all of my amazing clients. And then everything stopped. I dove into education, and shooting at home. I actually had decided in January 2020 I would attempt a 365 project (shooting every day). What a year to pick right... haha. This was a game changer! Between education, forcing myself to pick up the camera in a million different lighting situations, try new things, and get creative. I feel like I blossomed into the photographer I want to be. That year I ended up seeing so many clients. Seriously, it was so weird. By the end of 2020 everyone wanted to get new pictures for the walls that they had redecorated while we were all stuck at home that spring. Another big thing was extended family sessions, I had so many people wanting to capture the entire family together that year. It was crazy! I had the availability to shoot constantly too because my husband was still in a work from home set up and our girls were not in school yet and most of sports and stuff were still not happing. Because of this, I took off. 2021 ended up being a record breaking year, 2022 even more than that, and now here we are heading into 2023 which is already selling out! I sold out of wedding availability this year before the year even started! WHAT?!
Being a wife, mom and business owner has some serious challenges, but none of them are something I feel like I can't overcome. As the years go on I am seeing things becoming a little more challenging. The girls are both in part time school which soon will be full time for one of them, the sports are adding up, we have hit the ages of being invited to classmates birthday parties, hubs work schedule is ever changing. The juggle is becoming very real. I hope I can keep going at the rate that I am but I know too that I can't jeopardize my own family moments for everyone else. I am praying that I find that balance in the coming year, its so dang hard cause I hate not being there for everyone or missing out. It's defiantly an ever changing balancing act.
What a journey. It all ties back to the beginning too. You know why I do this. I do this for everyone to have the photo albums. Most of you know I deliver full galleries for this very reason. I don't want to pick and choose and limit you to 15, these are memories for you all, and I am beyond grateful you allow me to help you document them. It's also why I love lifestyle photography, capturing the moments, telling the stories, not just the posed, all smiles shot. And even more, why I love video and capturing the audio beyond the clips. The laughs the giggles the soundtrack of life.
I hope you all know that this passion is so real to me. I devote time, effort and money for you all. I care about the final images cause I want them to be perfect for you. Perfect to be printed, hung up on the wall or made into an album. Keep those memories for years to come. Those dinner table moments when you pull out the albums, 10 years from now, are going to be the best!
Feeling Inspired? Ready to make an album? Start a side gig? Book your next session?
Photo Credit for Header Image: Laura Frazier Photography
Photo Credit for last image in gallery: Twig And Fig Photo Co