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

Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
What was your thought process behind starting your own business?

Breathtaking Moments Photography isn’t my first business, but it is the business that grew from tragedy and the strength to never give up on my dreams. My initial thought of starting my own business came from being a single Mother, and needing the flexibility to work around my son’s schedule. After leaving the US Army in 2011, I started a screenprinting business while working on my Master’s Degree.

On October 9th, 2015, everything changed. I drove up to my son’s school, to help him with a fire drill. After that I had to drive up to Colorado Springs to drop off a few things for a friend. I had exited on the off ramp from I-25. I had the green arrow to turn left into a blind turn. I was only driving about 30MPH. At that moment, a girl sped through a red light, and struck the front driver’s side of my car going over 60MPH.

I remember someone telling me that I was in an accident. I miraculously gave my phone password to them, and let them know who to contact, then went unconscious. It took 2 sets of the Jaws of Life to get me out. My body was mangled, my eyes were lifeless, and I felt my body crossing over into the unknown.

I woke to a view of the hospital ceiling, being rolled down the hallway by 3 doctors, rushing me into surgery. I was able to see my face, and there was so much blood. I thought my bottom lip was missing.The only thing on my mind was to let them know I needed to pick up my son from school. I was informed that someone was already doing that, then off I went.

The accident resulted in a broken left femur, a shattered right ankle, 2 broken hands and wrists, a broken rib, and I broke my jaw in two places. With 120 or so stitches and staples throughout my body, a Traumatic Brain Injury, and massive amounts of memory loss, I was alive.

I knew I had a son, but couldn’t remember details about things he liked. I couldn’t remember most of my formal education or past life events.

Before the accident, I had a successful screenprinting business. I also loved taking pictures. I was an adventurer, and I loved sharing the beauty of this amazing planet with others. Most people couldn’t get to the amazing places that I was blessed enough to see in-person. I had a passion for graphic design, and loved working with Adobe Photoshop since high school.

After the accident, my frustrations got the best of me. Things that once easily took me 4 hours to complete, were now taking 8 hours. I had emotional breakdowns over small things. I told myself, “Fuck this, I guess I’m not ready”.

I fell into depression. I felt useless and frustrated with myself. I gave up on screen printing. Although I was greatly improving, and putting my life together through old pictures and social media posts, I still felt like a failure. I had gotten some memories back, both good and bad, and relived the trauma. It sucks when the bad memories come back and you have to face them.

It took months to reteach myself basic life skills, as well as camera settings and programs, but I was determined to achieve my goals.I graduated from Colorado State University in 2017 with a Masters Degree in Business. I had to go through hell to realize the amazing things that had happened. Six years ago, I had no idea how truly important photography is for capturing that breathtaking moment in time. I started Breathtaking Moments Photography to help people capture those amazing memories, because they might help them relive the good times one day.
Since the accident I have gotten most memories back, and although I sometimes struggle, that is okay. I have an amazing support team to help me get by.

What drives me to do what I do is simply this- Clients let me know that my photos have helped to bring their family members living with dementia a series of great memories, even for a short time. When you survive trauma, you still have the power to make something great come from it.
Nearly 6 years later, I am doing what I love and helping people along the way. Even with the more challenging days, I am so happy to be alive and I get to do what I love doing! I might even start up the screen printing process again in the future!

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My name is Jennifer Bakker, and I am a traveling photographer, specializing in weddings, landscape, wildlife, and portrait photography. What sets me apart from the rest is my passion to provide you the greatest experience you could ask from a photoshoot. If you need me to take a trail ride to the summit of a mountain, or fly out to a glacier in the middle of the ocean, I am there to create your own breathtaking moments! As an Army Veteran, and single Mother, there isn’t a challenge I won’t face. I live my dream this way, because I feel life needs to be lived to the fullest every single day. After a nearly fatal car accident, I was given a second chance to enjoy every moment, and that is exactly what I do.

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?
Being based near Colorado Springs, some of my favorite places to visit and set up a photo shoot are Garden of the Gods, where the natural rock formations provide a beautiful backdrop for your photos, and some great trails to explore. There is also a great shot of Pike’s Peak in the background. Watching the sun set over Pike’s Peak is one of my favorite things to do. While you’re at it, take a drive up Pike’s Peak. The summit is fairly easy to access, with a paved trail to the top. Another landmark that is worth the drive, is the Great Sand Dunes National Park, a couple hours South of Colorado Springs. There are sleds and boards available to rent, and I highly recommend sledding and sand boarding the Dunes. There are several beautiful waterfalls, camping, and trails that range in difficulty for drivers of all experience levels. If you’re looking for some local restaurants that provide a great atmosphere and a delicious menu, you should definitely check out The Paradox Brewery in Divide and Bristol Brewing, located in Colorado Springs. One of my personal favorite places, Bunkhouse Burgers in Canon City, serves some of the best free-range cattle burgers around.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have received so much love and support from so many people throughout my life. My son, Matt, gives me the motivation to never give up. I would like to thank my Sister, and business partner (Handmade with Love in Fountain), Julie, for her endless help and creativity. I appreciate my best friend Jackie, who has been in my life since childhood, and has recently joined the Breathtaking Moments team.

The band 311 has also been a big inspiration to me. I listen to their amazingly positive lyrics on all of my road trips. I also admire the work of Dave Ramsey.

Website: www.breathtakingmomentsphotography.com

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

Facebook: facebook.com/BreathtakingMomentsPhotographyLLC/

Image Credits
Jennifer Bakker – Breathtaking Moments Photography Matt Smith – Breathtaking Moments Photography Jen Ballentine Jonathan Buyno

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.