We had the good fortune of connecting with Brenna Skattebo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brenna, how do you think about risk?
While my journey into a career as a photographer has been a slow and steady burn, risk has still played a huge role in getting to where I am. I started second shooting and being mentored by a photographer when I was just fourteen, bought my first DSLR camera a year later, and spent nearly the next decade shooting here and there for friends who were graduating, getting married, or having babies.

I really never considered a career in photography and found myself working in marketing after I graduated college. A few years post-grad I had already worked three different jobs in various marketing roles and none of it felt right. I felt like I was waiting for my passion and drive to kick in — to really start caring about the work I was doing. I felt doomed to a desk job that I wasn’t fit for and didn’t care for and that’s when I really started to consider other paths.

I read somewhere that in search of what you should pursue career-wise, you may want to think back to what you loved doing as a child — you know, the thing you dreamed of becoming before the world tells you that you can’t. I remembered taking my family’s clunky point-and-shoot camera on trips and making my friends model for me in the field behind our house. I thought back to the excitement I had the moment I opened the box of my first Canon camera.

Somewhere around this time, a coworker asked me to photograph her family. I nervously said “yes” and in that short, clumsy session, I had more fun and was more challenged than any day at any desk job. I knew there was something there for me to explore, so I started shooting as much as possible — saying yes to anything and everything that came my way.

About six months into this exploration, I was laid off from my job due to budget cuts. I cried and was a bit nervous, but I quickly reframed this “loss” as an opportunity. Instead of rushing to find another full-time job, I found part-time work that allowed me to spend more time pursuing photography and allowed my husband and me to start scheming up a short-term move overseas.

While it was just a six-month stint, I can’t talk about risk without talking about our time in Thailand. This was by far the scariest thing either of us had done. From our perspective, Thailand held no job security, no friends, and no place to live. We just knew we needed to shake things up. In September of 2019, we quit our jobs, rented out our home, and moved to Thailand to teach English and explore a new place.

Within weeks of our arrival in Thailand, our nearly crippling fear of the big move washed away, doors opened, and we floated joyfully through our time there. We quickly made great friends, got jobs, and found a cozy apartment. We made memories that will last us a lifetime and discovered new things about each other and ourselves.

Taking this risk was the best thing we could have done — for our marriage, our mental health, and our careers. In short, our time in Thailand held exactly what we needed — a shift in our perspective on risk. We realized that things that feel scary and unapproachable, like moving overseas, are actually a lot easier than one might think.

In March of 2020, we found ourselves back in Colorado, in the middle of a pandemic, with no jobs and no income. Our pre-Thailand selves would have likely been freaking out, but the unknown was less scary to us now. In fact, the unknown had held some of our best moments yet.

I decided to finally dive into photography full-time. In the last year in a half, I’ve shot nearly 50 weddings and countless sessions, made more money than I did at any of my prior jobs, and have felt more alive and more at peace with my career path than ever before.

In this book Salt from My Attic, author John Shedd wrote, “A ship is safe in a harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.” My past jobs felt like harbors, but somewhere along the line, the harbor felt scarier than the sea. In many ways, someone else pushed me away from the shore, but I chose to keep sailing and I’m so glad I did.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a wedding photographer, so much of my work is tied to who I am as a person and how I try to make my couples feel. With each wedding or session, my goal is to make people feel comfortable and confident and to share their stories in a way that feels authentic to them. While I do view my job as an art form, in my work, people come before whatever artistic vision I hold for our time. Photography is just one small piece of my job. The real work is in connecting with others, hearing their stories, and using my technical and creative skills to reflect who they are.

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?
I was born and raised in Colorado Springs and went to college in New York City. When my husband and I moved back to Colorado Springs after college, we moved downtown and don’t see ourselves living anywhere else in the city. With that said, when friends come to visit, most of our itinerary centers around our favorite neighborhood spots. This includes visits to our favorite coffee shops (Switchback Coffee Roasters and Story Coffee Company), Shuga’s famous spicy Brazilian coconut shrimp soup, a trip to The Rabbit Hole, and cocktails at District Elleven or Brooklyn’s on Boulder Street.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As I hire second shooters and associate photographers, I always think back to my first weddings with Allison Daniell of Stellar Propeller Studio. Having someone in your life who trusts you and empowers you at a young age is a powerful thing and I’ve made it a goal to pass that on and encourage other new photographers to keep at it and pursue their dreams.

I also want to thank my husband, Michael, who has cheered me on, supported me through long wedding days, and made me feel capable and proud of my work from the start!

Website: brennaskattebo.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brennaskattebophoto/

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