We had the good fortune of connecting with TaylorRae Schnepp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi TaylorRae, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I always tell people that the “process” behind starting my own business was about as backwards as it gets. I did everything in the wrong order so it’s an incredible blessing to see how it’s all worked together to create the career I have now and am still creating. I first started my “business” when I was 16; charging high school seniors $25 for a grad session and staying up all night editing 15 photos on picnic.com… classic. I took a couple photography classes in high school and one in college but what really grew my skill the most was just doing. The more I took pictures for friends the more I realized how much I loved what I did. Still, I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology and got a full time job as a behavioral health technician. I was still doing sessions when I had time during this whole process but after I got married and realized we needed to start paying back our mountain of student loan debt, we decided to take photography more seriously. I rebuilt my website, increased my prices, rebranded my instagram and grew my business. We had a huge motivator to pay off our debt as we had decided that we would wait to have a baby until the debt was almost entirely paid off. And praise the Lord because all that work has paid off so as we are trying to grow our business we are also now trying to grow our family. I thought, at the beginning of this process, that once we got to this point financially, I would put down photography or at least do it less often. Now, I’ve fallen in love with every part of serving my couples, growing an instagram community, and being my own boss (except taxes… ew). My husband, Josh, has now joined me in this business and we’re so happy serving our couples together as wedding photo and video team! I can’t even imagine what 16 year old me would think of me now, but I know she’d be proud.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a photographer. I’m obsessed with capturing people in love. I can’t think of anything more beautiful. Some photographers are obsessed with places or things or whatever makes their portfolio look the best. I’m obsessed with making the people that I’m photographing feel so comfortable and safe in front of my lens. I know what it’s like to feel so insecure and anything but confident in front of the camera. I have struggled with body images issues for most of my life; I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia when I was a freshman in college. I was constantly looking at pictures of myself and comparing them to the pictures I’d take of others and never feel good enough. Now I have a position of power during a photo session. I use that power and every opportunity I can to make my clients feel the confidence they should. I think that’s one of the reasons couples sessions are my favorite. I have the pair interact with each other with silly prompts while we play fun music; it’s just a date night with someone capturing the whole thing. This takes the pressure off the perfection and puts the focus on the the love. I’m the photographer that gets really excited to hear from my clients, “We’re looking forward to the shoot but we’re also really awkward and nervous in front of the camera. We don’t know how to pose to you’re going to have to tell us.” Like, yea friend! That’s my job! It’s actually my favorite part of my job! I don’t want models in front of my camera. I want real, crazy love story, ready to tickle fight and cha cha slide on camera, absolutely adore each other kind of couples.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We’ve lived in Tempe for a few years now and one of my favorite things about it is how it’s central to everywhere. We’re almost never more than 30 minutes from any place we want to go. We love going on hikes with our friends. A fun trail and one of my favorite shooting locations is Usery Regional Park. The saguaros there are insane and it’s got a gorgeous view. I love that we have a Drive In not too far from us either. That’s actually been one of our favorite date night spots since college. West Wind Drive In has discounted tickets on Tuesday nights so we’d pick there over the movie theater any day, especially because they show a lot of throwback films as well. We’re not huge on going out to eat but there’s a couple spots in Tempe we really love. Fuzzy’s Tacos on Mill Ave has amazing food and drinks. We also really like Aloha Yogurt for dessert! One of our favorite activities besides photo/video is thrifting so we love taking our friends garage sailing on a Saturday morning (I love staying in the east valley for this) and going to thrift stores.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I couldn’t even begin to choose one person who has supported the most. There’s my parents who bought me my first Canon Rebel T3 when I was 17 years old that is what I used to grow my passion. There’s my high school photography teacher Mr. Smith, who encouraged my talent. There’s the family that I nannied for that had me take all their photos for a few years, the Gerdes. I always said I wanted to go a different direction with my career but they always saw the fire I had in photography and knew where it was going. Then there’s my husband, Josh, who has worked his butt off at his job(s) and come home to do alllll of our house chores so I could work full time and create and run my own business at the same time. He comes a long to as many photo sessions as possible, and learned how to be a videographer (and a really good one) so we can live this dream together. There’s my friends in the wedding industry, Katie Mustard, Tori Katz, Toni Crippen, and so many more that are always a sounding board for the craziness we all experience. My favorite television character, Leslie Knope, says it best, “No one achieves anything alone.”
TaylorRae Photo and Film, LLC