Life Over Lattes: Capturing Forever Memories With Rachel Hennessy
For Rachel Hennessy, being a photographer is more than just a job. It’s her way of helping people slow down. Slow down from the busyness of the everyday. Slow down from the chaotic routines and jam-packed calendars. Slow down and simply remember to celebrate even the smallest beauties of the everyday.
Whether she’s photographing someone’s wedding day, the birth of a first child, or a yearly family photo, her mission is to capture life’s most magical moments and inspire others to forever reminisce. But forget the posed “picture-perfect” snapshots. From giggles and tears to everything in between, Rachel is all about capturing raw emotion as it unfolds. To her, that’s where the real magic is created.
I find Rachel’s story to be incredibly inspiring for several reasons. Not only does this 24-year-old entrepreneur have a thriving photography business, but she radiates more joy and happiness in a day than some experience in a lifetime. With a warm and captivating personality, and an illuminating infectious smile, Rachel continuously sees the good in people and is always eager to spread the love and good vibes.
So without further ado, here is Rachel’s remarkable story…
Name: Rachel Hennessy
Location: Holly Springs, North Carolina
Let’s go ahead and dive right in! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you originally from and where did you attend school?
I was born near DC in Maryland, but grew up in Apex, NC, a suburb of Raleigh! I went to North Carolina State University (GO PACK!) and studied Communication with a concentration in Public Relations.
Not too long after graduating college, you took a leap of faith and started your own company, Rachel Hennessy Photography.
What led you to this decision and how did you know it was the “right” time to venture down the entrepreneurial path?
My senior year of college, I got a Public Relations internship with a local photographer, Abbie Carter Franklin, in hopes of learning more about how she ran her own business, while also helping her manage her social media. I had the privilege of working for her for a year and a half.
During that time, she taught me so much about being a business owner, photographer, and mom. I started second-shooting with her just after a few months and loved every second. I honestly never thought I would have my own business.
In the fall of 2015, Abbie told me her husband got a job in Atlanta and they would be moving. That’s when the wheels started turning and so in November 2015, I took the scary step and launched my own business!
It’s funny to think about how I knew it was the “right” time, because I really didn’t! I was so scared and lacked confidence. And then, just two months later, I found out I was pregnant, which was not in our plans for a while.
I honestly started to rethink everything and almost gave up on my business. I remember thinking, “I don’t know how to run a photography business. I don’t know how to be a mom. I definitely don’t know how to do them both at the same time!” I can honestly say that without the support of my husband, James, I probably would have quit right then and there.
I recently stumbled across a quote, “The key to success is to start before you’re ready.” Being a creative is a process…There’s no formula for success! I am where I am today because of small steps in the direction of my dream and taking things one day at a time.
Where does your love for photography stem from? How did you first get introduced to it?
I started taking pictures in middle school when I stumbled upon my parents “nice” camera. I think this was the time that point-and-shoot cameras were starting to be big. I remember getting a little canon point-and-shoot one Christmas and that thing went to school with me every day. I took so many pictures on bus rides, during lunch, you name it, and my friends and I were snapping pictures of it!
Later in high school, I was in a Digital Media Studies class where I was able to choose my focus. I chose photography and spent the entire semester learning and growing at my own pace. I started doing “styled” photo-shoots of friends any chance I had. And during my freshman year of college, family friends started reaching out and asking if I would photograph their families, seniors, etc.
Taking the internship with Carter Elite was really the start to my professional photography career and is what led me to where I am today.
From weddings and engagements, to people, families and little ones, you photograph some of the most cherished moments in a person’s life. What is your favorite part about documenting these special life events?
All of the exciting moments I capture are just that: moments. Capturing these moments and memories for people is such an honor. I want my clients to look at the photos I take for them and be able to go back to those moments; to feel what they were feeling in the photos. It pains me to hear parents say, “We haven’t had family photos taken in 5 years!” Five years!? Think about how much has changed in your own life in the past five years!
I look at my job as a way to help people slow down and remember. Whether it’s the birth of their first child, the beginning of their marriage, or the yearly Christmas card, I truly believe photos hold memories.
What are some of your biggest sources for inspiration?
My biggest source of inspiration is my family. I cannot express how precious photos of my family are to me — photos of my wedding day, photos of my baby girl, photos of my nieces, photos of our family trip to Hawaii.
They tell stories that I never want to forget. It’s an honor to help other people have a snapshot of their own special moments and loved ones.
Since launching your own company a few years ago, you have received raving reviews about your work and your approach.
What do you think it is about your approach that sets you apart from other photographers?
I think a common mistake photographers make is hiding behind their work. What makes each photographer unique is the person behind the work. I try to be transparent and real with my clients. I want them to know me, not just my work. So I guess what sets me apart is, well, being me!
In a world where it is so easy to become swept away in the tidal wave of comparison, how do you manage not to compare yourself to others and others’ work?
I recently had a breakthrough in this area because overcoming comparison is HARD. Like I said above, each photographer in the industry is so different. I used to hide behind my work and compare my pictures to everyone else’s work. I tried to be like everybody else.
When I realized that just by being me, I have something unique to offer people, it freed me from comparison. It also helped me to appreciate other photographers for who they are and really appreciate their work without always weighing it against my own work.
What do you find most rewarding about owning your own company and being your own boss?
I really value the relationships I get to build with my clients. I love hearing back from each one of them and getting to see the excitement when they see their images. As my own boss, I have the freedom to handle my client interaction however I want! I love really getting to know my clients personally, and it’s always a hope that they will become friends!
On the other hand, what do you find most challenging?
The most challenging part of being my own boss is balance and discipline. Being a new mom, I am still trying to figure out how to get everything done while also taking time to love on and play with my daughter (not to mention feed, put to sleep, you know — the essentials!) I want to establish a routine so I can work within certain hours and spend time with her uninterrupted.
The reality is, I haven’t really figured it out yet. Like I said before, being a business owner is a process!
How do you implement creativity in your everyday life?
Implementing creativity in my everyday life means doing more of what I love. For example, someone gave me an Anthropologie watercolor mug with an “R” on it for Christmas and I love it so much I use it at least 4 times a week. I love it so much, I decided to re-brand and use it as my inspiration!
Right now, I love seeing my little girl play in the pool — she loves it! So I embrace the freedom to be creative with my schedule and I make time to go to the pool with her. I took the time to make my in-home office a place that I think is pretty, so when I am working, I feel inspired. I love candles, so if I’m home, I light one, or two…or three.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Let go of FEAR! Being a creative, it is so easy to constantly compare yourself to others and criticize your work. I wish I learned this lesson sooner! You can only be YOU, so be that boldly! Don’t let anyone make you feel less than for being yourself.
Lastly, what does creativity mean to you?
I think creativity can hold different meanings and look differently from person to person. To me, creativity means freedom. Freedom to be who you are, to do what you love and share it with others!
Thank you so much, Rachel! You are awesome and your work is incredibly touching!