AE Photography // small business feature

We are so humbled and excited to share with you today the heart behind AE Photography - Over the next few months, we are sharing our favorite small businesses and preferred partners (the inspiration behind your events). We get the opportunity to work with these amazing people to help make our events magical, and we want to shout from the rooftops why you should be passionate about what they do as well! Thank you Aubree for sharing your sweet heart - we hope you enjoy and learn something powerful. Make sure to check out more of her work here.

Q: Tell us about yourself. 

A: I’m a DWF based photographer with an obsession with queso, my awesome husband Jared, and my puppy Willow. 

Q: Oh, we love that pup! She's beyond adorable. Now, we want to know what made you want to start your own business?

A: I wanted to find my own way in the creative world and follow my passion. I first started out in design and figured I would be working for agencies most of my career. But the longer I designed, the more drawn to photography I found myself. After a few bumps and turns in the road, I opened officially AE Photography in 2015. I now have the freedom to fully explore my craft, work with the types of people I want, and pursue what excites me!

Q: What type of photography do you do the most? What do you enjoy the most and why? 

A: I am a portrait, editorial, and lifestyle photographer. I LOVE shooting couples. There’s something so humbling and magical in those shoots that makes my heart so happy! With every shoot I have one goal in mind: to not “shoot what it looks like, [but] shoot what it feels like.” That’s a quote by David Alan Harvey that has become my business motto. Whats the point of a photo if you don’t feel something? 

Q: Love that we can literally feel your passion when you talk about your trade - On that note, what inspires your passion?

A: Movement inspires me. A ripple in water, a couple melting into a kiss, a splash in a pool. Anything and everything that tells a story through movement makes me want to grab my camera and shoot away. 

Q: What is the most challenging part about running your own business?

A: I think the most challenging part of running my own business is to appreciate where I’m at. It’s easy to look at pinterest or other photographers and think, “I must be doing it wrong…” because of the clients they work with or the places they travel. Comparing yourself is probably the worst thing you can do as any sort of business owner. I think in my young business, that’s been the most important thing I’ve learned and the hardest thing to keep in check. I am my own photographer. The best thing I can do for myself is to focus, be proud of how far I’ve come, and push myself to my own limits. 

Q: That was really beautifully stated - It seems we all feel pressure to compare our business instead of celebrating others victories and our own... When did you become interested in photography? 

A: I’ve always been fascinated with the still picture. My mother is a photographer and she instilled my obsession at a young age. I have been incredibly blessed to have two supportive parents who nurtured an appreciation for all things creative. I really came into considering it as a profession in college when I took my first film class. There’s nothing more relaxing than being in the dark room and developing a photo that you took. The whole process is like my very own therapy session. After that, I started designing right out of college then through the grace of God I got the courage to jump into the deep end and I’m never looking back. 

Q: And now for the big one - Why is your work important to you? 

A: My work is important to me because it’s about relationships. The joy of shooting what it feels like is that I get the opportunity to listen to people, get involved with their life in some small way, and share all kinds of love and happiness. 

Q: What advice would you give anyone looking to start their own business? 

A: To anyone looking to start their own business, DO IT! There will never be an ideal time to start. There will always be reasons not to. But I promise, you’ll be fine. Get your business plan in line, surround yourself with encouraging people, find yourself a support group of others in a similar situation and talk to them! And like I said earlier, don’t compare yourself. Give yourself slack when needed, but always push yourself to be the best you can be. You got this ;) 

We're Live!!

Guys… we are so beyond pumped to introduce Jillian Grace Events officially to the world. We have had so much fun rebranding, and putting together some beautiful packages and plans for your upcoming celebrations. We want to be able to share our vision for what JGE represents, and why we're doing what we love most! So grab a cup of coffee (or tea), a blanket, and your planner and find out why JGE should plan your next celebration!

Q/A

Q: What made you decide to take on this venture?

Noelle: After discovering that Sarah and I have the same passion for celebrating life through event planning,  we carefully prayed and talked it through with our husbands and decided to take a leap of faith by creating JGE.  I thrive on the anticipation right before people arrive at our events as well as the gratification that comes after the event has concluded. Another reason I decided to take on this venture is because I know a lot of people get overwhelmed when they think about planning an event/party. Perhaps they know how to throw a party, but don’t have the time. They may not even get to enjoy their own event because they’re either worried they forgot something or they’re exhausted from staying up late finishing last minute details. I love that JGE is able to take on all the responsibilities and be a breath of fresh air to our clients so that they can have a fun stress-free time at their event. 

Q: Why event planning? 

Sarah: I've found that I really have always had a passion for organically bringing friends and family together, and making the space feel inviting and warm. There is something about seeing a kids face light up, knowing that all of their friends and family have come together to celebrate their life, that makes me want to make that as magical an experience as possible. The same goes with showers, graduations, or even simple holiday parties. I love to live in the details and know that those can really make an experience extra magical. None of that works though without organic fellowship and friendship… you can't will that into being. Even better, if everyone attending doesn't know one another, I truly believe those details will create an atmosphere that makes it easy to branch out and meet someone new!

Q: How did y'all come up with the name Jillian Grace?

Noelle: A lot of people have asked us this question and it's kind of a funny story! Sarah and I had been brainstorming a name for our business for a few weeks, then one day Sarah thought about incorporating our middle names somehow. She did not know what my middle name was at that time and just started playing around some ideas beginning with her middle name, Jillian. While she was doodling, the word Grace came to mind and how it seemed to flow effortlessly with Jillian. She was conflicted because she liked the sound of Jillian Grace a lot, but did not want me to feel in any way left out. She quickly texted me, "Hey! What's your middle name?" I wrote back, "It's Grace! How come?" ...... Then the rest is history!  

Q: What's your favorite part of the whole process from start to finish?

Sarah: Seeing the clients vision come to fruition is definitely my favorite part - and through that process, building a new relationship with the client is also always a blast. Each event is a new way to express a new creative thought and see that come to life. I also simply just love seeing people having a great time, and letting all the anxieties and troubles go away, even for a short time. 

Q: Where do you hope to see Jillian Grace in the future?

Sarah and Noelle: We have goals and dreams for JGE, but we also trust that our relationship with our clients will help us know the direction our business needs to grow. Our most prominent goal is to provide our clients with the most exceptional experience possible, and to focus on them, rather than ourselves and what we want out of it. We hope that Jillian Grace will become a symbol of joy and community, while taking the burden of trying to do everything at once away so that you can enjoy your events wholeheartedly! Our tagline is "Creating beautiful ways to Celebrate" - I want that to be what we are about in future, as much as it is now.