I wish I had some glamorous story about how I got started with this whole photography gig. I wish I could brag that I knew it was my “passion” since I could walk or how my great-grandfather taught me everything he knows and passed his passion along to me or that I was the 3rd generation photographer taking over the family business. I wish I could tell you that I grew up looking thru magazines imagining my name under the images-but that would all be lies.
The honest answer is, I bought my first professional camera with insurance money after my 17 sister Nicole was killed in a tragic car accident my junior year of college. Y’all-THAT.WAS.HARD. But do you want to know what was harder? Sorting thru a shoebox of photos to display at her funeral and feeling overwhelmingly regretful that there wasn’t enough. Not enough laughing- not enough personality- not enough of REAL life without cheesy backgrounds and fancy Christmas and Easter dresses.
After almost a year of the “death money” sitting in the bank, I decided that if I was going to spend the money, it wasn’t going to go to waste. Tears ran down my cheek as I placed that order. Since that camera arrived, I have worked so hard to make spending that “death” money worth it. I taught myself how to use it spending YEARS AND YEARS soaking up all the information I could, making lots of mistakes and pouring my heart into every bit of it. I promised myself that I would use it to document my life, my children’s life and YOUR life, the way I wish hers was documented. I promised myself that I would create something beautiful, because if I did that, then I could keep her memory alive!
I’ve documented amazing moments in people’s lives and because of that, I’ve created friendships that most could only hope for in a lifetime. The camera has taken me to places I never thought I’d travel and it helped me heal in ways you can never imagine. I’ve taken the sourest of lemons and somehow made lemonade -the REALLY REALLY sweet stuff!
My story isn’t glamorous, it isn’t hipster or trendy like a cup of Starbucks coffee but my story is real and it shapes the way I shoot and the filter in which I see the world. <3
random facts ABOUT ME
…the title of the blog was “I won’t photograph ugly people”. It was an article about how I had discovered an online bullying page created by students for the purpose of ridiculing their classmates. 4 girls, I had scheduled shoots with were participating so I decided to cancel their shoots, return their money and told them if they were going to be ugly on the inside, I wasn’t going to photograph them to look pretty on the outside. It gained national/international attention and I was contacted by all the major national news stations and TV shows like Ellen, Dr. Phill, Anderson Cooper, etc.
…I started from humble beginnings and I never want to forget that. I grew up in a trailer with teenage parents. My mom was almost 16 and my dad was almost 18 when they had me…it was like a real life version of “16 and Pregnant”. We lived in poverty the majority of my elementary and junior high years. I learned that name brands are “just a name”, I learned that you take care of what you already have, I learned that experiences are better than things and that the true meaning of happiness is learning to be content. I’m the first person in my family to graduation high school and college AND to be an entrepreneur…..and I’m also not afraid to take risks. No matter how successful I ever become, I will never forget where I came from.
…whether it’s skydiving out of a perfectly good plane, cliff jumping in Mexico, zip-lining in Costa Rica or riding rides at the top of the Stratosphere, I’m always down for an adventure! I’d rather spend money on experiences than things-especially, if it gets your heart racing!
…when I was 16, I won a Prom-a-Thon Contest thru Teen Magazine sponsored by Tyra Banks. It was the first time I had won anything so big in my life. I had the newspaper come out to do a story, got the princess treatment for hair and makeup and got to pick any dress I wanted. I felt so special that day! I will never forget that feeling.
…and I had less than 24 hours to find a wedding dress. Yes…Greg planned a surprise elopement and arranged all the details such as airfare, hotel, even all the paperwork to get mallory out of school. He left to “go to a conference” the day earlier in Vegas and as he was boarding the plane called home to tell me he left something for me at the computer. It was a note leading me on a scavenger hunt all thru the house. It ended in the attic where he had my suitcase, passport and a letter explaining that my flight was the next morning and that he’d see me at the airport. When I arrived, he was holding a sign that said, “Future Mrs. Bish”. The next day, we got married in the oldest wedding chapel in Vegas.
…18 years ago before meeting people online was acceptable. We chatted for two weeks before meeting in person at the mall. The next day, he called to see if he could drive to my college to visit and we’ve been together every day since. He would drive 2-3 hours every day to see me and spend the night and then drive 2-3 hours home in the morning to go to work until we got an apartment together.
…I’ve lost 100lbs from my heaviest weight but it’s fluctuates throughout the year. There are some days I feel really good about myself and others not to much. I know what it feels like to hate yourself in photos. When people share with me their insecurities before a shoot, I can relate more than you might know!
…right after I graduated from high school in the days before cell phones, I flew to North Carolina by myself to visit my boyfriend on his military base. When I arrived, the phones had been damaged by the weather and I wasn’t able to call home right away. I figured it was no big deal, I’d just call when they were repaired. After a day or so my Mom freaked out and reported me as a missing person. Several minutes later the police were at the door doing a wellness check to be sure I was ok. I was never able to live that down! haha!
…Why the age gap? Well, Mallory, my oldest was born at 28 weeks and just over one pound. After months and months in the NICU and misdiagnosis of child lukemia, the experience was super traumatic and I didn’t want to “go thru all that again”. Turns out, not all pregnancies are the same and 11 years later we decided to try again. This time around it was smooth sailing and I couldn’t imagine our family complete without Mr. Levi. He has his own hashtag #LifeOfLeviWesley.
WHEN I'M NOT WORKING
follow my personal account
ARE WE a good fit?
If these sound like you, let’s hang out and make friendship bracelets and secret handshakes!
- You love clean, vibrant REAL images
- You value authenticity over cheesy props
- You love unique locations that aren’t your neighborhood gazebos
- You aren’t afraid to laugh at yourself
- You value REAL moments over Pinterest moments
- You cuss a little (because I might cuss a little)
things I love
homemade ranch dressing
the smell of suntan lotion
my favorite color is black
Self improvement books
MEET GREG my husband:)
He’s been my right hand man and second shooter since 2006 when I started my business. Since then, I’ve taught him everything he knows! He's basically a genius! haha!
When he’s not behind the camera as a second shooter, he’s in the paint booth restoring vintage vehicles. He owns and operates a car restoration business in Blairsville, Pa. and is most often found driving around his in favorite 1950 Chevy Rat Rod or 1970’s Charger…..when I’m not bossing him around on the weekends.
why HIRE ME?
…so sentimental that sometimes, I annoy myself. Perhaps it’s because I know what it feels like to lose someone you love. I think of it this way, the images we are creating for you today are for people, we don’t even know yet, to enjoy later. It’s your family legacy and these will be your stories to tell. I want you to put lots of thought into the location you pick. Good light can make anything pretty, I want it to be meaningful.
…on the weekends! Greg is my designated second shooter so when he’s not restoring vintage cars and attending car shows, he’s behind the camera documenting your big day with me. We’ve been working together for almost 12 years and have photographed roughly 300+ weddings. He knows “that look” means to get me batteries, or that hand gesture means to get out of my shot, or “this look” means to get that angle. We’ve got it down pat by now. What can I say, he’s learned from the best! Haha!
…I tested out of several photography classes and ended up working for the newspaper while I was still in school. The amount of information I learned at that job was worth more than the degree I earned at college. I photographed everything from breaking news, sports, feature stories to festivals on the weekends. I learned to document moments, strengthened my people skills, how to manipulate light and how to “shoot simple”. In other words, there wasn’t time to set up elaborate lighting scenarios with soft boxes and light diffusers. I had to show up and “figure that shit out”. I think that is one of my strengths as a wedding photographer. I’m able to think quickly, pivot if necessary and not skip a beat. Sometimes that requires a little MacGyver skills.
….Do you have a place you first met? A place you spent a lot of time? A spot you have amazing memories of growing up? A place that “MEANS” something to you? Let’s go THERE! I want you to be able to point to these images in 40-50 years and tell a story about them. THIS is where Grandpa told me he loved him, THIS is where we spent lots of time as a family, THIS is where it all started. Let’s go there!
…to help a bride bustle her dress after a guest broke the string-you can call me McGyver. I shot a wedding 3 weeks after a c-section and rocked it. I leave so early on the day of a wedding that we once stopped and helped someone at the scene of an accident, assisted in CPR, called an ambulance and STILL made it to the hotel on time. I shot a wedding with pneumonia, an injured cornea, a sprained ankle (good lord, not all at the same time, I’m good but not that good!)…and still rocked it! I’ve chased down a limo that was driving away with a bride’s veil, found lost wedding rings and even prevented a church from burning down when a drunk groomsman knocked over a candle. I’ve stood in front of a sprinkler so that the Bride could walk by without getting wet! haha! This ain’t my first rodeo!
… let me brag for a minute-I’m a timeline ninja! I’ve never had anyone late to their reception EVER. We work together to put together your wedding timeline and I can let you know how much time REALISTICALLY everything should take. I got you boo, you’ll feel so much better once we have a plan!
…I get that trends come and go but I think in 10 years, you’ll look back at those trends and think “that is sooooo 2000!” I can look at an image with a laser background and tell you that is soo 90’s! I want my images to stand the test of time. I want your kids and grandkids to laugh at your hair style or the dress you wore, not the way the images were edited! haha!
…and I want clients that can do the same. I believe that if you show up on the day of the shoot with a great attitude, your images are already 90% there! After I get done bossing you around, telling you how to pose, give you direction on what I want you to do and tell you lots of my bad jokes…you’re going to be a pro in front of the camera in no time!