Why I decided to start my own photography business

Time to get personal with you all. I share a little story with you in my about me section of my page, but I don’t really go into full detail. So sit back, and grab some popcorn for this little feature I like to call “Why I decided to start my own photography business.”

Back in 2010, I was starting my senior year of high school. I was in my third year of photography which was the independent study group. Photography is a very popular class at my high school and I can honestly say the teacher, Mrs. Fowler, had a lot to do with it. She was in all sorts of ways amazing and inspiring.

Mrs. Fowler asked me what I wanted to do with my life? She was very much a friend and a mentor at this point to me and I had no problems opening up to her. I told her photography was what I wanted to do with my life. I really didn’t see myself doing anything else. I had mentioned that I had shadowed studio photographers and I wasn’t so thrilled with doing that.

J. Fowl (Mrs. Fowler’s nickname we gave her) asked me if I knew anything about photojournalism. What in the world was that, I thought. She opened up a new window on her computer and showed me a video of someone giving a talk on being a photojournalist. How he traveled the world and took photos of the good, the bad and the ugly. How it was more of storytelling than portraits, even though that is what he took a lot of. Instantly, I was hooked. I wanted to travel the world, see all the places and all the people and photograph them.

I graduated high school in the spring of 2011 and was ready to set out on my own. I was turning 19 and had the world at my finger tips. Most of my graduating class would go on to study at Indiana University. It was the party school. It’s where dreams came true. I was no different in wanting to go there. However, I got wait listed. I wasn’t the most attentive in high school and didn’t really focus on my grades as much as I did trying to have a social life. I should have seen it coming, but was shocked when I saw the letter saying “wait list.” My cousin had a condo that he rented out in Bloomington so my two best friends and I decided to go to Ivy Tech Community College and move down to B-Town.

I wasn’t super excited that I was going to a community college. I honestly thought it was below me. I got into every other college I applied to and turned them all down because I was so hooked on the thought of being in Bloomington, home of the IU Hoosiers and party central. (It makes me feel real dumb looking back on it). I will say though it was probably one of the smartest decisions I could have made though. I didn’t have to live in the dorms and I paid all my bills when I lived on my own. I ate rather healthy and held a part time job serving at Outback Steakhouse. So I saved a TON of money as well as saving money on books and tuition because I was going to have to take those classes any place I went. I was just able to do it cheaper. I can say that now, because some of my friends from my graduating class from college have almost $10,000 to $20,000 more in student loans than I do. And that is for someone who took the exact same amount of credit hours, but just transferred my sophomore year.

After about three quarters of the way through my time in Bloomington, I decided that IU really wasn’t for me. Sure I made a ton of friends (even my boyfriend that I have today) but IU didn’t even offer the program I wanted. I really only wanted to go there for the sake of saying I went to IU. I know, that was dumb. I applied to two places that I wanted to go: Corcoran School of Art and Design and Ball State University. I was torn between the two because Corcoran was out of state (Washington D.C. to be exact) and Ball State was in state but had the photojournalism program I wanted to pursue. Corcoran was an art school. It would mean I had to take all art classes. I honestly had no idea which avenue of photography I wanted to take advantage of. That spring break, we took a trip to D.C. to take a tour of the school and it would help me make a decision. After long thoughts and considerations, I realized I could not afford art school. So Ball State I went.

Since I took 98% of my prerequisites for general education classes, I was pretty much able to jump right into the photojournalism program. It was journalism with a focus on photography so I took all the classes that involved journalism from writing to audio to media law and also photography. It was an awesome experience. I stayed super involved in Greek life and other various groups and held a part-time job still with Outback Steakhouse, but in Muncie. I honestly thought I was doing all the right steps to get me a job right out of college: I was involved in multiple organizations, I was a part of student media (and even held a position), I worked a job while in school, I graduated Cum Laude and I even had an internship during my time at Ball State. Crickets is all I heard after I applied to hundreds of places. I got one interview. That was with the paper I interned at and I am pretty sure it was only because they knew who I was.

I was at a fork in the road. I felt like a failure. Did I really just go to school for no reason? Did I just spend all of that money and go into debt to be told that I wasn’t good enough? I even tacked on two courses AFTER I graduated to try to help me. One being an immersive learning class and the second an internship with another paper in Bedford, IN. Since I couldn’t find a job, it was easier to go ahead and move in with my current boyfriend in Bloomington, IN. I came back because even though the university wasn’t for me, I still really loved the town. I needed to find a job and fast because bills don’t just stop when life is rough. I went back to my old stomping grounds for weekend work while I was at my internship in the Bloomington Outback Steakhouse and quickly realized I was in deep trouble as it was their dead season (students are all gone). I transferred to the one in Greenwood until I could get a full time job.

I found a job working at the local vocational school as a daycare teacher. Nowhere near what I had went to school for, but it paid something and they wanted to hire me so I didn’t really care. I needed the money. Soon after, I missed taking photos. It was a part of my life. I did it for so long and I wasn’t going to give it up just because of the bumps in the road. I knew I could take the photos but I knew NO ONE in Bloomington. All my friends had already graduated and moved on and all I knew where my co-workers and the people I was living with.

I took the leap of faith anyway. I had the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. So in October 2015, I opened the “doors” to Kaytee Lorentzen Photography. I got my LLC and became official.

I have had so many trials and errors and successes throughout these 3 years. I am constantly growing and learning. I have been blending my interest of portraits with my love of lifestyle photographs (which is very similar to photojournalism). I have continuously asked myself if all of it was worth it. And every single time I come back to yes.

Thank you for reading along my journey. I can’t wait to keep writing it and I hope that you get a part of that story as well.

Sneak Peek: Sean & Daley - Indiana University Pictures

SNEAK PEEK: Siblings Sean & Daley show off their Hoosier pride near the sample gates as Sean is going to start his freshman year and Daley her senior year this fall. Check out a few photos from their session here. 

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