My One Year Anniversary | Charleston | Photographer


One year ago, Emma Lili Photography was born.

After ten years of working in multi-family real estate,  I had finally had enough. The industry had warped my opinion of people, and for the first time, I started to believe that more people are bad, than good. I was home late and left early, and while at home, I was either upset or still working. I started picturing my future  and all I could see was a mother missing her sons pee wee football games, kindergarten graduations, growing apart in my marriage and not taking care of me, and I didn’t like that future. I knew something had to change... 

After another long exhausting day at work, being under appreciated and overworked, I came home in tears for the last time. My husband and brother, who frequently had to listen to my complaints, said enough was enough and encouraged me to put my notice in that night, and I did. The next day the company refused my notice, showing me just how unappreciated I was. Broken down and feeling hopeless and lost, I cried for 2 days. 

I have always liked working and helping to provide for my family, but wanted a career with a balance. The next few weeks I sat there pondering what truly made me happy and where my passion really was. I had come to the conclusion that life is way too short to do something you don’t love. 

I paid a photographer to come take photos of my house that we were selling and we started talking. I asked how she made homes look so bright and pretty and she mentioned HDR. When she left, my curiosity kicked in and I went to google and researched it, I then realized I hadn’t made time in a long time to take the “amateur" kind of corny photoshoot of my son, Noah, that I had been doing since he was born when Luke bought me my first fancy ‘ish’ camera. (Don't worry I am not still shooting with this one, I have since made a major upgrade) 

I went and grabbed my camera and started playing with it attempting to get Noah to let me take a picture. I googled some of the settings and the next day scrolling through Facebook, Amy and Jordan (well known photographers in Arizona) popped up on my feed for a “free” training. I signed up and got all excited I realized that my calling was standing in front of me for a very long time. 

canon camera charleston

Super excited I immediately started a business plan. I researched what equipment I would need to get started and calculated my return on investment and determined exactly how many sessions and at what cost I needed them to make that money back. I called my dad and pitched it to him, he was excited, and he rarely shows when he is excited, so I knew it was a good plan. Luke came home later that evening and I pitched it to him and he was on board, as long as it didn’t end up being a very expensive hobby. I assured him it wouldn’t.... 

I came up with a plan where I wouldn’t have to give away sessions entirely. I reached out to several people and posted in a moms group. To my surprise people allowed me to take their photos, scared I made my brother Cody tag along disguised as my assistant, but really the worst assistant ever (I love you Cody). 

Our home sold and we were soon going to be moving to Charleston. I immediately started trying to find clients in Charleston. I was super excited that I booked my first small wedding and engagement session to take place within 2 weeks of moving. Things started slow as I didn’t know a soul in Charleston. So from October to December I did a few sessions, but focused on marketing. January rolled around and BOOM things too off, my attention to my website and marketing paid off. 

Over the last year I have had the pleasure of capturing some of the most special days for people. I have met hundreds of wonderful people and my camera has not left my side. I have had 137 sessions this year, and have been published 9 times. I have also had the pleasure of shooting in so many beautiful locations  including four different states, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado. 

I have watched the sunrise more than I did during my 21st year of living. Witnessed more people say I do than I have in my 30 years, watched families grow, and met people from all over the country. Photography has helped me get back to the mindset I had lost through a draining career and I now see more beauty in everyday life than I ever have and I believe that there are way more good people than bad. 

I have also made new friendships, that I wouldn't trade the world for! One gal in particular has been such a blessing and there through my bad days and there to celebrate my successes, I am not sure what I would have done without her this year, yes that is you Sarah! Crystal, probably the sweetest gal I have ever met, has been there offering advice, friendship, and always down for new things! She also is the amazing photographer who helped me capture my one year photos so perfectly!  

I have more relationships in my life than I have in 10 years and it feels amazing!  


And the best for last, I have spent the last 365 days watching Noah grow, watching him wake up everyday and being able to put him to bed each night. I am home to eat dinner each night with my husband. We have been able to travel and spend more time as a couple and family than we ever have before. Noah gets to grow up with me being an involved parent and I get to watch him grow. 

I am beyond excited for my second year in business as I already have so much to look forward to! Some of the things I am most excited for is witnessing and capturing at least 38 more couples say I do, capturing my best friend growing up that I haven’t seen in 20 years pregnancy, seeing old friends and meeting their new additions and meeting even more new people. 

Thank you everyone who has made this such a great year for Emma Lili Photography but for giving me my life back! 


Check out the most adorable images captured by the very talented oh so amazing Crystal with Jenna Grace Photography