We had the good fortune of connecting with Shanna Blackburn and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shanna, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
While I am not a parent quite yet, I am expecting my first, due on January 8th, 2022! My husband and I are very excited for this addition to our family. As I think ahead to having him home and raising him, the idea of a “regular” 40 hour-a-week office job is not appealing to me.

I look forward to my photography business continuing to grow, and for it to offer me the flexibility to stay home with him for a majority of the week and book myself fully for evenings and weekends with sessions and weddings. It is a dream and desire of mine to have a sustainable schedule with photography that would allow me to do it full time. I love the idea of spending my mornings with my baby editing while he is napping on my lap or next to me… and maybe it will eventually even help him develop his creative side! And as every photographer knows, it is also very helpful to have someone trained up to carry their bags!

I want my son to remember me as a hard-working and passionate mother who served her family first, as well as her clients. I want him to see me treat my clients with respect, authenticity, kindness, and care as I work to deliver exceptional customer service and results. I want to teach him about the goodness of life, of the beauty of the world around us, and to take time to stop and notice the miracles that happen around us all the time. It has been through my lens that I have learned the most about this, and I hope to instill that to him as well. I hope he learns to appreciate the importance of photographs and what it means to a family to have moments captured forever. I want to teach him about the fine art of business and entrepreneurship, if he is interested in that or has the desire to start his own business one day.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have loved photography for my whole life. There are many professional photographers in my family, and I was always fascinated with their gear and asked to tag along with them as much as I could when I was much younger. I had some film cameras to begin with when I was a kid, and I was constantly asking my parents for rolls of film for Christmas and my birthday. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, but I did love looking at my finished photographs and always worked to improve upon what I saw. I crouched down in flower beds at my neighbors house, waded in creeks, walked miles alone in the woods… all with the intent to see something beautiful and snap a picture.

I still have all the photographs I took from those days, and they are meticulously cataloged by genre. My favorite thing to shoot back then was my dog and landscapes… and I still enjoy that to this day!

It has been a life-long dream of mine to be a photographer. When I met my now-husband in 2016, I would often talk about this to him and point out different things while we were out hiking or walking together that simply filled me with joy and delight and would often say things like “one day I’ll be a photographer and I’ll be able to make that look so beautiful!” To my great surprise and joy, he gifted me my first DSLR for our wedding present when we got married in November, 2018. I was filled with such joy! I took the camera out for it’s first spin while we were on our honeymoon in Asheville, and that was the beginning of the journey I have been on for the last few years as a professional.

From there, I quickly realized I had A LOT TO LEARN! My old cameras were just point and shoot, I never knew about what it meant to be able to adjust ISO/aperture/shutter speed/white balance/etc. How I learned mostly came from picking one thing to study and practice at a time. I worked with aperture first, and quickly fell in love with how much that opened up for me creatively (pun intended). I learned one major aspect of manual settings at a time, until I felt like I could confidently adjust my settings quickly to the setting at hand in order to nail the image. There was so much to learn, and the challenges I faced came from the defeat I felt when I couldn’t get things quite right. However, as I learned the technical side of photography, I was able to figure out what was “wrong” with the images I didn’t like or that didn’t come out correctly, and I challenged myself to get out again and improve upon that one thing.

After learning my camera a decent bit, I started asking friends and family to model for me. Then there was so much MORE to learn about lighting placement, posing, making people feel comfortable, best times of day to shoot, the importance of where the sun is, background choices…. wow. I look back on those first images I took of my friends with a smile, knowing I was just learning and having fun while doing so.

I feel like some things for me came very easily, some things were more difficult. Honestly one of the most challenging things for me and the things I have to think about each time I photograph people is making sure no light poles or trees are sprouting from their heads!

And now, after learning, practicing and growing for a few years, the thing I strive to emulate in my work boils down to joy. I want people to feel joy while they are working with me, from the very first e-mail all the way to final product delivery. To do this I strive to have exceptional communication and clear instructions while setting up our photo session. I want to emulate joy in my interactions with my clients and their families during our shoot, by continually talking to them, encouraging them, and making them laugh and smile while we work together. My spiritual gift is encouragement, and nothing brings ME more joy than encouraging and cheering on other people. I love to get my clients laughing and feeling confident and comfortable in front of the camera, because I understand how difficult it can be to be photographed. My editing style is bright, cheerful, and colorful, which I think matches my personality quite well.

I want people to know how much I value their trust in me to capture their family or wedding, and to deliver exceptional service to them every step of the way. I want people to notice the beautiful things in our world that exist all around us, and my prayer is that I am able to freeze moments in time that bring people joy for years and generations to come.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a great question because my best friend Heather came to visit from Virginia a few months ago!

Our itinerary included hiking at Robert’s Lake in Ball Ground, grabbing some coffee from Barrel House Coffee Company, getting a few wings at Taco Mac, and hanging out around the table at our home playing games. The most important thing to me when having people in town is to show them the unique small business and one-of-a-kind places that exist where I live. Luckily North Georgia has plenty of that to offer! I have also taken friends that have visited me to Blood Mountain, Ellijay (where we got coffee at Ellijay Coffee House), and brought them to several local breweries like Variant, Rock Solid, and Gate City. I have taken friends to Piedmont Park, Centennial Olympic Park, The Georgia Aquarium, and other cool spots downtown as well.

Through getting connected with these places in my community, it brings me great joy to share them with other people. These local places all have such awesome stories that are worth knowing and you can’t beat their quality and service!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would be amiss not to mention the impact that fellow photographers in the area have had on my journey in beginning and growing my photography business. It has been a high honor, pleasure and joy to meet other photographers in the area to learn from, network with, refer to, and shoot with.

Brianna Joseph of Brianna Joseph Photography has been integral, especially this last year, in my growth as a photographer in the wedding space. I e-mailed her early this year, complimenting her on her beautiful work, and asking if she would be up for having me tag along to second shoot with her for some weddings this year. She welcomed me into her world with open arms, and I had the privilege of joining her to 3 weddings in 2021. I can’t speak highly enough of her creativity, technical ability, and organization as a photographer on a wedding day! Through working with her and gaining valuable feedback, I feel confident and capable to tackle weddings on my own and can’t wait to add weddings to my schedule in 2022 and beyond.

I learned a great deal about what it takes to create a great timeline for a wedding, navigating the technical side of things for different spaces for different shots throughout the day, and so much more. I came out of each wedding with an abundance of different experiences and I grew so much after each one. She has also become a great friend of mine and I love her 4 awesome kids, and she even took the pictures of me you see in this article!

I also would like to credit Abigail Peyton, who is a fellow Australian Shepherd owner and extremely talented photographer in Woodstock. She was kind enough to connect me with the Around Magazines to shoot for them in some of their ads and events this summer and fall. Through shooting with them, I have met some other wonderful and inspiring creative people and business owners. She also connected to her mom, Laura George, who offered me the awesome opportunity to teach music and photography classes at Compass Preparatory Academy in Canton this semester, which has been so much fun! Through teaching photography to her students, I am going back to the very basics of lighting, composition, and the elements of design which has made me an even better photographer.

Website: shannacarolphotography.com

Instagram: @shannacarolphotography

Facebook: Shanna Carol Photography

Image Credits
The images of myself (black dress)- Brianna Joseph of Brianna Joseph Photography Other images are mine

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