welcome to my little corner of the internet!
you probably know by now, but just in case you're new here, my name is Chanze! I've been married to my wonderfully goofy, smart-ass husband for 10 years, I can't stand him half the time, but I can't stand to be without him, either. our love story is one for a rom com, that's for sure. but I'll save that one for another day!
Together we have two beautiful, wild children that test my patience on a daily basis. I'm always so excited when bedtime rolls around, but as soon as the house gets quiet and the sound of them playing and arguing falls asleep with them, i can't wait to wake up to them the next morning. we keep them busy! If we're not out exploring or playing arcade games, then we're at home, making obstacle courses, playing board games, or out riding bikes in the front yard.
in the midst of us finding each other, falling in love and starting our family.
Austin family photographer
I reignited my love for photography. when i was 12, i found my parents point and shoot camera that they had bought for a vacation. i snuck it out of my mom's vanity and started taking photos of damn near everything. my mom caught me with it a few days later and i thought I'd be in so much trouble, but she surprised me by giving me a memory stick for it. It was like, 1 gigabyte so i was hopping on our big boxy desktop computer like 3 times a day to put them all into a folder so i could delete and go right back to snapping away. a year goes by, then two and there i am on Christmas eve opening a box that held my very first camera. growing up my parents weren't the wealthiest, we lived off of the land a lot, my mom had just started college to be an rn after being a stay at home mom for 14 years, I had no idea at the time that we were "poor" so to speak, but i knew it meant a lot to them that they were able to do this for me, so i was grinning ear to ear and annoyingly thankful. it was an Olympus e......something lol i just knew it was fancy and i had it all to myself.
it went everywhere with me, i took photos of our animals, my friends, bands that i went to see with said friends, self-portraits out the wahoo. myspace was a thing back then, so you had to post a new photo, double check your top 8, and change your whole layout pretty much daily, so you stayed relevant lol. throughout the years i slowly put it away. life got serious, i had to start thinking about what the hell i was going to do with my life, and becoming a professional photographer wasn't even an option in my head. I had dreamed of becoming a marine biologist, traveling the world, researching and documenting the animals of the sea, but i wasn't able to chase that dream.
so, I moved out on my eighteenth birthday, moved in with some friends, worked two jobs and saved up as much as i could, moved to Houston, got a job at my aunt's company and shortly after that i met my husband, Justin.
we had known each other a whole two months when we decided to move in together. it was wild, but it worked for us.
it wasn't very long after that i started to think seriously about a career. i didn't want to work at boot barn or olive garden my whole life so, i found my camera and started out doing $40 sessions so i could save up enough to pay for college, I'll be the first to tell you, they were horrible! but we all start somewhere, right? I took photos of literally anything. headshots, seniors, birthday parties, family get togethers, couples, maternity, families, kids... literally anything and everything!
I got the opportunity to second shoot for a few local wedding photographers so i did, for $10 an hour... even though i barely made enough for dinner, i learned SO much in such a short time. i took on my first wedding by myself in September of 2014 and i was hooked. i shot mostly weddings, for 4 years! each wedding made me fall deeper in love with the art. I knew this was my calling.
But something was missing... by 2018 i had been married for a few years, birthed two babies, and made myself a career from scratch. motherhood consumed me. my life was all about my babies, loving them fiercely, and trying to soak in all of the babyness before it was gone. I took probably over 10,000 photos of them from just their first year alone. play time, learning time, park time, swim time, cuddle time... no matter how much i tried to soak it in, i still look back and feel like it went by in the blink of an eye. because it did. they grew so fast, by the time my mind had learned their crying cues and memorized their sweet little chunky baby face, i blinked and they were toddlers. then i memorized their goofy run, their sweet little squeaky voices mispronouncing all of the words they had just learned to say, and then one night i rocked them to sleep for the last time and they woke up a child, needing me less and less as time goes by... it's such a bittersweet experience isn't it!? my youngest starts kinder this year, and i have no idea what I'm going to do with myself. anyways...
we had big changes ahead of us
life was about to get a little crazy! we made the big move to Austin in mid 2019. i knew that with this move, i wanted to start clean. i didn't want to give up weddings entirely because i had such a strong love for them, but i knew i had to put them on the back burner to throw everything i had into newborns and family. I set up in my dining room for months, i scouted for popular locations nearby, i had no idea what style i wanted to lean towards, i just knew i wanted to make it big, and i ended up losing myself. i went through props and gowns like underwear because i thought that's what the people wanted, an elaborate set with tons of props. i got so caught up in a style i thought everyone around me wanted, that i inhibited my own creative freedom.
why couldn't i get it right? why didn't my work speak to me?
then it dawned on me...
"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do and stop saying yes to sh*t you hate!"
i asked myself, what do you see? how does it make you feel? then i said "f*ck it" and i transformed our office space into an in-home lifestyle studio, I quickly found my voice as an artist, i finally felt like i had a footing in this industry.
I elevated my work, I removed sessions I didn’t enjoy and perfected the ones I did. I learned how to say no more often. i prioritized my time and energy on things that left me feeling excited. I was creating art that made me feel something, something i was proud to share. . That’s when my work began to flourish.
it's been 4 years since we moved to austin.
and to this day I'm still learning. If you're a seasoned photographer and you have shut yourself off from learning new things because you feel like you've made it... boy oh boy, you are mistaken... in this industry, there's never a time that you're not learning something. whether it be something new with social media, new posing techniques, new equipment, hacks and tricks from other seasoned photographers... we're constantly learning... from each other!
this year, I've found myself in a bit of a rut.... imposter syndrome if you will... i had some sh*t happen at the beginning of the year that kind of pushed me to the dark side, something I'm not quite ready to talk about, and honestly i probably never will. but I've had to learn how to overcome the gut-wrenching feeling of anxiety, I've had to pull myself out of a depression spiral because my kids need me, and i need to put food on the table for us as a family. I've had my time to grieve my situation and truth be told, i still am. but I'm on the mend, and I'm ready to get on with my life. I'm ready to do all of the things that I've put on my goal list. and step one was to create a blog, where i can open up and share my life a little bit more, not only as a photographer or a mom, but as a woman who wants to be real and relatable.
since it's something that i haven't ever done, it's a little scary because I'm not a writer, I'm a photographer. what if i absolutely suck at it!? what if my clients judge me for cursing or being so open and raw!? what if i fail and disappoint my family!? I've always kept my life fairly private, i don't share what my kids do to get on my very last nerve, or when me and my husband have an argument about my spending habits, or when my family goes through turmoil, even thinking about sharing any of that is terrifying but we're at the start of another "f*ck it" moment in life, pushing myself to open up and go into details about how every session really plays out, how sometimes my kids bother me for a snack 20 times during a newborn session because they're at home for the summer, or how my husband had to work late and now i have to bring my kids to a session with me because i have a fear of trusting anyone i don't know with my kids because this world gets worse every day and I'd end up in prison if something happened... you know, normal mom life sh*t. i mean there's going to be tons of tips and guides along the way, but not every blog entry is going to be ponies and rainbows. there will be some raw sh*t in there, simply because that's life, raw, noisy and f*cking beautiful.
so i guess I'll end this with some advice.
This can be used by anyone... not just a momtographer...
Stop stretching yourself so thin by doing it all, pour your heart into something that makes you happy.
ask yourself, are you truly happy with where you are today? what can you do to get yourself on the path you want to be on? why not write a goal list? put it all out there in front of you and take it on one at a time. we have one life, and to possibly look back in 5-10 years with regret and ask myself "why the hell didn't i just go for it? imagine where i would be today if it all worked out" that's terrifying!
the me from 8 years ago would be bawling happy tears if she could see a glimpse of her life today.
2015 me.... you're welcome.
Austin family photographer