As a little girl, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “I want to be married.”
I’ve always had a romantic heart, a sensitive soul, and a strong desire to give and receive affection. But at the brink of turning 30, my childhood wish seemed like it would never come to pass.
Throughout the years, I’ve watched my younger siblings, cousins, and friends, fall in love and marry their soul mates. As much as I was happy for them, a little piece of my heart would break at each wedding.
So there I was, no longer in my twenties, dating mediocre men, and waking up each morning to an unfulfilling office job. I knew I wasn’t living up to my potential; I wasn’t the woman I wanted to be. And so one day I made the decision to change.
It started with a vision board. I had to be brave enough to write out and create images of what I wanted my life to look like. So I cut out words and images from magazines that inspired the life I wanted to live. It included an image of a camera, because I wanted to continue improving my photography skills, which began years ago in college (when I first fell in love with photography); the word “boss” because I wanted to eventually run a successful full-time photography business; and an image of a bride on her wedding day, because I still had a mustard seed of hope that someday I too would get to be the bride.
I posted the vision board to my bedroom wall and began the journey (and the hard work). Each week, I gave myself specific goals that I needed to accomplish, which included, but where not limited to: officially register business, save money for photography equipment, master backlighting and exposure, learn posing, hire graphic designer to create logo, purchase business cards, set up website and blog,
create social media pages (facebook, twitter, pinterest), learn how to use speedlites,
develop client contracts, read financial, leadership, and business books, figure out package pricing, hire accountant, attend WPPI Conference in Las Vegas.
The phrase “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” was so true in my life. When I made the decision to pursue my dream, I came across Creative Live, which provides live online photography and business workshops taught by world-class experts. I also followed successful photographers who shared a wealth of information freely; photographers like Zach and Jody, Jasmine Star, Melissa Jill, Sue Bryce, and Katelyn James. And then there was my Aunt Nancy, an exceptional photographer and natural teacher, who still today, will patiently answer my photography questions, give me advice, and encourage me to be the best photographer I can be.
At the time I was photographing families, newborns, and high school seniors. As much as I wanted to do weddings, the thought of being with brides all the time made my lonely heart ache. And so began the hardest work of all: the healing of the heart.
For months, I met with a couple who counseled and ministered to my heart. I let go of past hurts and relationships, forgave many individuals (as well as myself), gained faith that God had a plan for my life, and after awhile, I began to feel whole.
I was ready to try a wedding. A friend of a friend was getting married and was on a tight budget: the perfect recipe for my first wedding. I only had two lenses at the time (a 50 mm and the 70-200mm) and one speedlite. But during that day, something magical happened to me: I felt so alive and completely in love with life. It was the moment I knew this is what I was born to do; this was my destiny. And so it only made sense to focus on weddings and engagements from that day on.
After uploading my first wedding to my blog, I began to get wedding inquiries. I officially was telling the world that I am a wedding photographer (even though I felt like I was faking it because I was a newbie). Weddings started rolling in, but first, I did another friend’s wedding, and then my brother’s wedding. Every wedding I photographed would be better than the last. My business was growing exponentially by word of mouth, and especially through social media.
Within a year, I went from booking 1 to 30 weddings, quit my office job, and pursued Dyanna Joy Photography full time. And in the midst of chasing my dream and healing my heart, I met an amazing man who became my husband just four months ago. I was finally the bride, and it was well worth the wait. It was then that I realized every piece of my vision board came into fruition within a year of standing up for my life, taking action, as well as giving it to God.
I’m turning 31 on June 29, and my life looks completely different than it did only one year ago. So much can happen in a year. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.” It’s about a woman whose life turns out very differently than what she planned. And at the very end of the movie she says “They say they built the train tracks over the Alps between Vienna and Venice before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come. Any arbitrary turn along the way, and I would be elsewhere, I would be different. Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.”
So I encourage you to take the time to find out what makes you feel most alive, and go after it with all your might. Create a vision board or write out your dreams; make them come alive. Ask God to help you. Find your teachers. Remember, it’s okay to start small, because everyone has to start somewhere. Give yourself weekly or monthly goals and follow-through with them. Take time to heal your heart. Don’t compare yourself with others or you’ll be very unhappy. Be patient. Pursue excellence, not perfection. Be yourself. Love yourself.
And just like most little girls, I used to watch the movie Cinderella (ok, maybe I still do). And even before this downtrodden beauty became a princess and married prince charming, she would sing “no matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, a dream that you wish will come true.”
Have faith, dear friends. There is a plan for your life. Don’t give up.
About Dyanna LaMora:
Dyanna is a newlywed and deeply in love with her husband, polka-dots, and her cat Penny. She cries watching Downton Abby, all movies starring Tom Hanks, and when she witnesses something truly beautiful. As a wedding photographer, she wears her heart on her camera, and lives to photograph love and romance. Her images are thoughtful, emotionally-inspired, and sentimental. She has a way of putting her clients at ease with her cheerful and caring personality, and capturing the essence of who they are in a photograph. She is based in Delaware and available for travel.