As 2021 goes into full-swing I decided it was time to finally get back on track with blogging. I asked the good folks of Instagram what they wanted to see first… and to my surprise it was an overwhelming majority that wanted to read about me. So, here we are! Let’s take a walk down (my) memory lane together!
I am originally from Winchester, VA (well actually an even smaller town outside of it). After I graduated high school I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So, I took a year off and went to community college to save some money. I was working as a waitress in a local restaurant and wasn’t super happy with my life at that point. I knew I was going to Radford University that fall, but I didn’t want to be stuck inside another summer waiting on people. The perfect opportunity was handed to me when I applied to be a counselor at an overnight summer camp for kids with special medical needs. I packed up my bags and a week later I was living in Charlottesville in the woods! This definitely changed my life for the better. So much that after 4 years of working here I am now the Assistant Program Director (and loving every minute of it)!
After a life-changing summer as a counselor for teens and running a high-ropes course it was time to pack my bags (again) and move into my dorm at Radford University. I had finally decided that I was going to study Psychology. It didn’t take me long to realize how expensive school is, though. Within 3 weeks of school I was out of money and desperately trying to find a job. I stumbled across a job-opening for a place called the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. I had NO idea what that was, what it meant, or what the job entailed. So, naturally I applied. To my surprise I actually got an interview, and subsequently the job as well. I am so incredibly fortunate to have had this job in my time during school. I met some of the most amazing mentors-turned-friends, learned more than I could have ever dreamed of, and gained so many valuable skills. It was at this job that my boss, John, told me to take out one of the Canon DSLR’s and to just “take pictures”. I went out with that Canon and took pictures of anything and everything. Squirrels, students, flowers, bugs, my roommate’s backpack even. And, for the next three years, I don’t think I ever put that camera down!
When I wasn’t at work (which I pretty much always was, even if I wasn’t scheduled) I was hanging out with my friends, studying, or at rugby practice! One of my best friends and I revived the Radford Womens Rugby Team in my last year at school. Neither of us knew how to play, but we managed to scrounge up enough girls who were willing to learn. We were rough at first, but we all settled into our ways and found what positions were our strongest and made a really great team. I played as a hook (#2) and a center (#7). Some of my other favorite things during my time at school were working with my friends on short films, doing tons of research on addiction and neurogenesis (new cell growth) in our schools neuroscience lab with my favorite professor ever, and hanging out with my friends any moment I could.
My second year at school I started to really get into photography. I was constantly using the Canon work camera to take photos of friends. I would take senior pictures on the side for a bit of extra money and had SO much fun getting to do so. When I realized that I was graduating soon I thought to myself… it could be worthwhile to make a “real” business out of this. I was able to talk to the lovely Marena of Marena Claire Photography (https://marenaclaire.com/) a little about what owning a photography business looked like. She gave me the rundown and sat down with me for Starbucks and I still use SO many of the tips. I definitely give her credit for giving me the push I needed to do what I love unapologetically.
I had figured out pretty late into my college career that I was passionate about Instructional Design, and was planning to go to graduate school for a Masters Degree. COVID-19 really threw a wrench in those plans. I decided it would be best to take a year off and focus whole-heartedly on growing a photography business and see where it took me. Over the summer of 2020 I was officially moved into an apartment with Joel and living in Charlottesville. I searched the web for days looking for photographers that I would be able to connect with. Or anyone willing to give me a crumb of advice or help. I stumbled across Hunter and Sarah Photography (http://www.hunterandsarahphotography.com/). They are an incredible husband and wife duo right here in town that took me on as an apprentice. I have learned SO much from them and my business is thriving from all of their help.
You might be thinking “Eilish, aren’t you married now? Where does Joel fit into the picture??” Great questions, I’m so happy you asked! Joel and I were introduced through our mutual friend, Sam! They went to school at Virginia Tech together and I would often see him when I came to visit. He actually asked me to be his girlfriend 3 times before I agreed to go out with him. I needed to work on myself before I could commit to someone else and I have no shame in that.
Well, he graduated from Virginia Tech and moved away to the beach right when I started school in Radford. After I came back from camp we decided to try out long-distance. We would alternate who drove the 4 hours twice a month and made it work! After our first year together he got a job in Charlottesville and moved much closer, making the drive only 2 hours instead. This past March (2020) I actually left for spring break to visit him. My school went virtual after spring break and I ended up just moving straight in with him. He said he had planned to propose to me on vacation after I had graduated, but our vacation was canceled due to COVID-19.
After close to 3 years together Joel took me on a date to Carter Mountain to go pick peaches. I was so excited and literally didn’t think twice about it. He told me to go find a picnic bench while he went to the bathroom and he’d meet me in a bit. He finally came out to meet me and we sat down together. He (nervously) popped the questions at the prettiest part of Carter Mountain’s overlook and our friend popped out to take some photos. It was incredibly special and I was genuinely so surprised.
So many people that I have talked to that have looked at my Instagram or know me and Joel personally tell me the same thing: “I wish we would have done what you did”. We had always known that a big traditional wedding was not in the cards for us. We didn’t want the hassle, the expense, the stress… we just wanted to do what made us happy. So, we did! We also knew that we didn’t want to be engaged forever (ya girl needed health insurance). So, we sat down and talked about what exactly we wanted out of the day. The most important thing for me was a photographer (maybe I’m baised… but your photos are the only thing that last beyond your wedding). We set a budget, found the perfect photographer, talked about where we wanted it and compromised on a few things. Joel wanted to get married indoors at a cool downtown location. I knew I wanted it to be outdoors with a gorgeous view. So, we found the most incredible AirBnB in downtown Charlottesville with absolutely stunning views and a balcony that had a lot of potential for decorating. We invited a few of our closest friends, and Joel’s best friend was our officiant. It was perfect for us in every way possible, and we made what was our fairytale happen for under $6,000. I promise, if we can do it…. so can you! Here’s some incredible photos from the day. We are so lucky to have had Ash as our photographer. You can find her at Ash Carr Photograhy (http://www.ashcarr.com/) and I could not recommend her enough.
And just like that you are all caught up on my life. Thanks for tuning into this excessively long blog post all about who I am, how I got started, and how things led me to this point of my life. I hope you enjoyed looking at the images and getting to know me on a more real level. I will see you at the next post!
Ash Carr Photography | OUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Hunter and Sarah Photography | MY INCREDIBLE MENTORS
Marena Claire Photography | MY GRAD PHOTO PHOTOGRAPHER AND MENTOR