stories told


Welcome to the Always Karlie Photography Blog!

As a destination wedding photographer, I am incredibly excited to be sharing all my tips, tricks, adventures, and fun here on my new blog and website!

For my first blog, let’s discuss my experience and how my business came to be what it is today! I wanted to take a walk down memory lane to show you my photography progression. It’s important to realize that your wedding photographer’s experience and style is truly what sets them apart from any other photographer. And to my fellow photographer or artistic friends of all levels – don’t let others tell you that your passion can’t become your full time career or that you can’t be successful! It sounds cheesy, but this is true – chase your passion and happiness/fulfillment will surely follow!

I photographed my first wedding in 2018, but my photography story begins waaay before this! In my middle school years, I received my first iPod, then my first phone, my first film camera, and my first digital camera. All of these mediums I used to capture nature in my own backyard. From flowers, to water-droplets, to trees, my dogs, the snow, you name it! I never in my wildest dreams thought I would end up photographing people let alone weddings! I played around with light, objects, and developed a hobby I loved.

Believe it or not, the photo taken above was with my old 2014 iPod touch.

In fact, the first wedding I photographed in 2018 I did for only $50! (It’s crazy, I know!). The wedding was stressful for amateur photographer to say the least! I only had a Canon RebelT1i and a 50 mm kit lens. No backups, no second shooter, and no experience. It’s honestly a miracle those photos lived to tell the tale! I do not recommend doing this the way I did!

After the craziness that was that wedding, I swore to myself I would never photograph weddings or people again because it was too hard and too stressful. I listened to everyone around me and convinced myself that photography wasn’t a real job – I needed to focus on my biochemistry degree so I could get into pharmacy school to be successful in life. Besides, I wasn’t good at photography anyway.

Sadly, I set my camera down for over a year. I buried myself in school, homework, softball, and my full time job working as a waitress. Randomly one day I decided I wanted to invest into a nice professional camera, “just for fun.” So the Spring of 2019, I did!

Receiving my Canon 5D Mark iv camera made me feel like a kid on Christmas. I decided I wanted to test it out on myself… Let’s just say I did not have the knack for modeling, outfit styling, lighting, props, or editing haha!

I was obsessed with my new camera and it’s capabilities. I am the type of person that learns the best through hands on experience. So – whenever I had free time I practiced – a LOT!

Then I booked my first gig for an adorable couple! They were high school friends of mine so I knew I wouldn’t feel as stressed trying to pose them, and I hoped it would be better than the wedding I previously photographed. I remember not charging much as I was still learning posing, lighting, camera settings, and editing… DEFINITELY editing…

PS. Chloe & Nolan – If you’re reading this, y’all are the OG’s and I can’t thank you enough for believing in me <3

Cleary nature and dogs were subjects I was much better at capturing haha!

I later found out what mini session’s were and started booking those, a LOT! Just for some practice, fun, and to earn extra cash to buy my college books and utensil’s. I practiced with anyone and everything I could get my hands on. At this point I was passed my initial reluctancy of photographing people as I practiced on my friends, family, and anyone that would let me! I’m not sure how I even got to this point, all I know is that photography became my obsession. Every spare moment I was reading photography books, business books, listening to podcasts, watching Youtube, and I even took a few photography classes in college including Photoshop class and film class.

By now you can see my photography style and editing start to develop along with better posing technique in less than a year. Skin tones, correct lighting scenes, and editing were still a work in progress. By now I was starting to question my life’s purpose. Photography brought me so much joy that there had to be a way to make it into a career – right? I again talked myself out of it. I wasn’t getting paid a sustainable income and I wasn’t good enough at the craft since my photoshop professor told me “maybe photography isn’t for everyone.” Essentially telling me that I would never be good enough. I started to hate school, resent my chosen major, and now I dislike all of my professors.

And yet – I decided that photography will still just always be my hobby, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a few extra bucks here and there right? Or practice this hobby as there had to be a way for me to get better.

Then of course 2020 hit and everything shut down. But photography? NOPE! We could easily be 6 feet apart and be outside. I think getting photos taken was one of the few things we could still do that was fun and maintained human connection – created memories even in dark times. This was the year I became a lot better at my craft due to how much free time I had from work and school being shut down.

I decided that I should try doing weddings again since I now have more experience and photographing people wasn’t as scary anymore. I also wanted to prove my photography professors they were wrong out of spite. So I advertised in my local town Facebook groups and somehow booked my first three weddings – WHAT?! Of course they were booked a year in advance, but I got to experience engagement sessions for the first time and let me tell you, I fell in LOVE!

So now I’ve locked in lighting technique, skin tones look better, but I remember I could not for the life of me figure out why my photos were not clear and crisp no matter how much research I did. I had weddings I was going to be photographing and I needed to figure this out! Local photographers would refuse to help me in fear of me becoming their competition. I couldn’t do mentorships in Minnesota because each contract with a mentor had a clause stating that after the mentorship was over, I wasn’t allowed to book any clients in Minnesota for up to five YEARS! So I drove all the way to Indiana for a mentorship session with an amazing senior photographer. Even though I don’t so senior photography anymore, I learned SO much valuable information that carried over into all aspects of my photography. Kelsey Tillema Photography – you changed my life girl! Here’s a few photos I took and edited during my mentorship session with Kelsey:

Yep! I told ya she changed my life! Truly elevated my game! I still needed a lot of practice in the wedding world and with natural light, but I was/still am proud of this moment in my photography journey! So if you’re thinking about a mentorship, DO IT!

From there I photographed wedding number 2, 3, and 4! Below are a few of my favorites:

As you can clearly tell. Each wedding was drastically different in editing. I honestly had no idea how to keep things consistent at that time, and I was for sure having a style crisis! I couldn’t decide if I liked “bright and airy” or “dark and moody.” As those were basically the only two styled at the time.

Flash forward to 2022. It was the year I decided to turn my “hobby” into a business. I officially became Always Karlie Photography LLC! Honestly, I had to because I was starting to make too much from photography. Figuring out taxes was NOT fun to say the least! This was also the year God flat out told me that college and pharmacy was not the path he intended for me and photography was. So I listened to him! I dropped out of school and got a full time job as a Medicare insurance agent to help me build my photography business to eventually go full time.

After all this time, this was the same year that I found out styled shoots and second shooting was a thing?! So I took advantage of that to practice and get more experience. I photographed sparklers for the first time, my first winter wedding, and my first professional styled shoot in Florida that I put together myself!

I started learning about marketing, SEO, website building, domains, and all things business. From there, I booked my first destination elopement in Colorado! I remember being so excited that I physically jumped up and down like a little kid.

After all the content I made in Colorado, it became like a domino effect. Once people saw that I traveled, I started booking EVERYWHERE! From this one booking, I booked more clients in Hawaii, Florida, Alaska, Missouri, Iowa, Alaska again, Colorado again, Arizona, Utah, California, and so many more!

I left my full time job in December of 2022 as God clearly showed me it was time to stop doubting him. I have been a full time destination wedding photographer ever since! I honestly don’t think I make as much as I would have as a pharmacist, but I know I make enough to get by, to travel for free, have more time for family, and my overall happiness is worth more than any degree could have gotten me.

My style has evolved to true-to-color, candid, and timeless. I love preserving the colors and skins tones of the wedding day as they truly were. I want photos to become more beautiful and valuable with age.

It’s now 2024 as I write this blog – WOW! I can’t say I have made it this far without doubts, but Jesus is still teaching me every day to trust his plan for me and my business. Now I have photographed over 150 weddings, 200 sessions, and have traveled all over the United States at the age of 23! Photography has become more than just my passion, my hobby, and my spite to prove people wrong. God turned it into me serving his people on the day they make a covenant before him in beautiful places that he created in churches and in nature. I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for not just me, but my amazing clients <3

If there is anything you take away from this blog it should be this – Success takes time, patience, and a whole lot of humbling yourself. Listen to your calling and don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from your passion!

Life and Education

Life and Education


How I Became a Destination Wedding Photographer

Alaska Elopement, Alaska Glacier Elopement, Glacier Elopement
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