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Meet Trailblazer Celene Stanley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Celene Stanley.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In high school, if you would have asked me what I wanted to be, with no hesitation, I’d respond “A JOURNALIST!” That, in my mind, covered a lot of ground. I knew, without a doubt that I wanted to write. I also had a pretty decent knack for taking pictures – so I was always told, even though, back then, it was with a simple digital camera or the first generation iPhone.

That being said, one of my closest friends in High School, and one of my closest friends TO THIS DAY – Liliana Cornejo – made a plan! We were going to UNT together, we were going to be roommates, and we were both going into photography/photojournalism. My dream died when the letter came that I was unfortunately not accepted into UNT. To this day, that haunts me – I was Student Body President, head of the Prom committee, on the volleyball, basketball, and soccer team, AB Honor Roll up until Junior Year – when I began getting a few C’s and received the Good Citizenship award my Freshman year… but I digress.

As I said, my dream of being a photographer, with Lili, at UNT died.

I began my life after high school, and I’ll save you the boring details. Long story short, I found my calling being a school teacher. I started as an intern and have been working on my degree, earning a certification, recently my associates, and I’ll be returning next Spring for my bachelors/Teaching Degree. I love my job, and I love my students. Photography had become a distant memory. Until remember Lili? She texted me asking to model for her, just for some practice shots, she was growing in her passion and needed some shots to build her portfolio. So, we went out to Downtown one night and I played in front of her camera (thinking back… CRINGE! I CANNOT STAND being in front of the camera anymore)!

After that night, there was some sort of spark in me. That creative flame from high school reignited, I don’t know if it was being in front of the camera, seeing Lili’s light shine, watching the process, helping her with content, or just seeing how the passion in her never died the way it did with me – but she, unknowingly, pushed that dream right back out of me. I still had a little Nikon 1 Digital Camera in the back of my closet somewhere, right? I began playing with it… or at least, THOUGHT about playing with it.

Fast forward, I met a boy! I’ll save you the romantic details (or lack thereof – who does romance anymore? Not us). He and his friends really began pushing the creativity out of me when they realized I owned a camera. I started taking myself more seriously after some time taking promo shots for their clothing lines, product, and music endeavors. So, I splurged, I took my Nikon 1 and sold it, used that money and a credit card and bought the cheapest Canon I could find at Best Buy, a Rebel T6i.

And… from there, it’s history.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!
As I mentioned, that rejection from UNT really held me back for YEARS. I lost my entire creative spark. It took me 2-3 years, but I realized this was my passion, regardless of UNT not accepting me. A college rejection letter should have never held me back, I DECIDE MY FUTURE, not a piece of paper.

That’s exactly what all young creatives should realize. As a teacher, I will tell you that, yes school and your education is so important, don’t get me wrong. But, school should not determine who YOU are or who you want to become. That piece of paper from UNT, that I now never plan on pursuing, obviously means nothing to me.

I never went to UNT, and don’t plan on it. But I still got my degree, am continuing my education. Not only that but I’m doing what I love (photography), but also pursuing a career in a field that makes my heart happy (educating the next generation).

Can you imagine if I wouldn’t have ever given up on my dream in high school? HIGH SCHOOL! SIX YEARS AGO! Imagine where I would have been by now! On the other hand, who knows? I might not have ever found a career if things would have gone my way back then.

Your SET BACKS only prepare you for what God has SET UP for you.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m a freelance photographer. But if my mom is talking about me on the phone, she’d say I was a teacher.

Neither of those professions is wrong. Sometimes, I feel like I have two different identities. I have two different Instagram pages, two different twitter pages, two different FB pages, I have a personal blog, and a professional website.

A teacher by day, a freelance businesswoman by night.

All jokes aside, I do hold an associates degree and am working on my bachelors/teaching degree.

But, I do freelance photography on the side as my passion and creative outlet. My students and athletes are some of my biggest supporters.

I just shoot, I haven’t narrowed my profession down to a single “genre” if you will. I like doing a little bit of everything. Capturing moments, planning an editorial series, shooting actions shots at my student athlete’s games, whatever it is… if I can have my camera in hand I will capture it all. I like to say, “I just bought a camera, I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

I am proud of the progress I have made in these past few years. One of my goals for 2019 was to be a published photographer, and I’ve checked that off three times – being published in 3 different independent magazines. I also planned to hold a photography/creatives meetup at the beginning of the year, and I did that successfully. The meetup was sold out, and it ran so smoothly. Surprisingly being interviewed and featured in Voyage Dallas was apart of my goals list as well, and here I am only a few months into the year. I’ve taken the first quarter of 2019 and made it my bi….oh can I say that? I’ve done some pretty great things this year.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
“THE BUDGET MOM” blog has helped me not only with my personal finances but in keeping track of my business finances and how to keep those accounts separate as a freelance businesswoman.

A few podcasts I do listen to are more just for fun/personal listen. But if you are interested, I listen to THE JOE BUDDEN PODCAST every Wednesday and Saturday, and THE PORCH AT WATERMARK MESSAGES every Tuesday.

Finally, the book that pushed me to take myself seriously in life and business was “HOW TO BE A BAWSE” by Lily Singh.

Pricing:

  • Senior Portraits Starting at $70
  • Small Events Starting at $150
  • Engagement and Bridal Starting at $200
  • Family Portraits Starting at $100
  • Headshots and Promo Starting at $50

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Liliana Cornejo, Mariah Powell, Kristiana Davied, Megan Robinson

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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