Hi friends! Here’s the sitch… I am claiming my title. What’s that title? I am a photographer. That’s actually really difficult to claim as I feel as if I’m still learning what it even means to be a photographer. It’s also difficult because I had an idea of where I would be at this point in my life and being a photographer was not it. For my first post I am going to share how it turned out this way. Brace yourself… it’ll be a bit of a read.

I was a high school counselor at a school here on Oahu and received news in January 2019 that the school would be shutting down. I can’t say that I was sad exactly of the news because I hadn’t been there long enough to form a strong connection with the campus. I was, however, going to miss the students terribly. I absolutely loved being their counselor and building a relationship with them. That was the best part. My fellow counselor and I had many “talk story” sessions of what we could do (apart from the obvious trying to find another counselor position). I’m telling you, the ideas we had were out there; my favorite was that we would both move to California, go to Disneyland everyday, and start a Disneyland blog. I mean, it’s doable right?!

Any who, somewhere in my thought process, I thought why not learn how to do photography since my New Year’s Resolution was to learn something new. I’ve always loved pictures and had thought being a photographer would be cool, but never considered it a viable option for myself. In addition, I had been following amazing photographers/entrepreneurs on social media (shout out to Lindsey Roman, Evie Rupp, and Jenna Kutcher) for a while and had always admired their work and how they used their platform. Again, not something I ever considered doing for myself. I figured let’s learn how to do photography, get another job, and see where this goes. From there, I inhaled everything to do with photography from learning how to use a camera on manual mode to watching Lindsey Roman and Evie’s Rupp’s tutorial on how to prompt your models for photos. The term “invest in yourself” was my personal mantra and I had very little will power when it came to investing in new material for photography.

My first photo shoot was with my brother and sister-in-law. Using my mom’s Canon Rebel T2i with the kit lens, I tried out everything I had learned so far. I look at the pictures now and can recognize what I could have done better and how horrible the kit lens actually is, but I still love them because we cracked up so much and that’s what I see when I look at the pictures. From there, I practiced and offered free sessions. There was enough momentum that I felt like I could start charging. I created an Instagram page for my photography (*cough* @kristeniwalani *cough*). Slowly, it’s building.

One of my favorite shots from my first “photo shoot”.

Now, friends, I was still looking for another counselor position and for the life of me I couldn’t find anything. I had two interviews and I didn’t make it through; the rest I either didn’t hear back from them or they filled the position. It was a little disheartening and it hurt my pride a little, but at the same time I was strangely okay with not landing those jobs. God had closed so many doors in this area, that I had pushed myself towards photography more and more. I had to let go of my pride and ideas of where I thought I would be to fully claim this new opportunity with photography.

Only now, can I say that I have fully committed to the statement of “I’m a photographer”. I am still building and can learn so much more, but I still am a photographer. I hope this resonates with some of you. If you feel lost or unsure of your plans or have so much fear of taking the next steps towards your path, you got this. Claim it. My faith is a strong part of who I am so let me finish off with this verse:

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares he Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Friends, God’s plan for you will surpass any plans you have for yourself. It’s a plan so great that you can’t even fathom it. Seriously, I had no idea that this journey was going to be a part of my story. God threw me for a loop, but it’s been great (even in the not-so-great moments). Trust in Him. Embrace your fears, give it to Him, and move forward. Claim your title. Fight.

Kristen Iwalani of Iwalani Photography is a couples and elopement photographer based on the island of Oahu, ready to provide a chill, yet high-vibe adventure. She loves capturing the real, raw, and messy moments of your story. Contact her today to start planning your island adventure!

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