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

Hi Valerie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I was younger I never really had the desire to work for myself and be my own boss. Once I knew photography was what I wanted to do, I never imagined starting a business. I always thought I’d work for someone. Ironically, when I was in college, my mom told me I should look into an entrepreneur certificate and take some classes knowing that a lot of photographers end up owning their own business (Mom does always know best). I took one class and quickly decided it wasn’t for me. After graduating, I worked for multiple photography companies. At one point I was working two traveling photo jobs at the same time and I loved it. Although I was rarely home during this time, I loved the opportunity to travel and explore new places.

After working for a couple of years, I started to wonder what it would be like to have my own company. Once Covid hit, obviously everything changed. Suddenly I had plenty of time to reflect on my experiences, what I had learned, and think about what I could picture myself doing in the future. That was the moment I decided it was time to start my own business. I had the time to invest in learning, so I thought, why not? I’m still learning every day and still have much more to learn, but I took that year to educate myself, network with other photographers, and work on everything I needed to to start my own photography business. It was, and continues to be, a lot of work, but from what I’ve realized so far, it’s worth it!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As an elopement photographer, I probably have a different start than most. I played a lot of sports growing up, so I immediately loved capturing action shots; the adrenaline from getting that “wow” photograph. This led me to work at the paper in college photographing every sport I could. I continued to get my degree in photography, and found my first job where I had the opportunities to travel around the world. I grew so much during those experiences and realized my love of travel and exploring new things. It’s what makes me happy. I knew I needed to do something that included the exciting adrenaline rush, travel, and adventure for the work I wanted to pursue. This is when I learned more about elopements! I love the ability to capture all of the raw emotions of fun, laughter, and excitement of people in love enjoying their own special adventure.

I simply want to document my client’s most exciting memories, and allow them to have these photographs to look back on for years to come and cherished with friends and family. I’m always excited to meet a new couple and learn about their story. Each one is unique, just like no two adventures are ever the same. An elopement doesn’t mean a courthouse wedding. It can be, but it can also be an all day adventure in the mountains or a picnic on the lake. The best thing about eloping is that you get to plan your day however you want and that’s what I love. I get the privilege to document these incredible wedding days that are specifically unique to each and every couple.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Dang, you can do a lot in a week in Colorado! Some of my favorite dinner spots near me are Bar Taco in Boulder and Pôr Wine House in Louisville. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything on the menu at both places already! Obviously we’d have to go hiking at least once so I’d probably take them to one of the many trails around Chautauqua because anywhere there is absolutely gorgeous. We’d have to grab ice cream at either Little Man’s in Denver or at Sweet Cow because yum! Other top things on my list would be to go to a Rockies game, see a concert at Red Rocks, explore Rocky Mountain National Park, check out at least a couple of breweries (dog friendly of course) and just walk around the town. There are so many things to do downtown and in the surrounding areas and so many great sights to see. You really can’t go wrong!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have had so much support from my family, friends, and coaches that I definitely would not be where I’m at today without all of them. They’re always motivating me to keep pushing forward, especially when things get tough. I know they’re always there for me when I need to talk things through or bounce ideas around. They give me so much inspiration and love which helps keep my confidence strong. My parents have always had my back with my career choice in photography and continue to encourage me every step of the way.

Website: valerieraephotography.com

Instagram: @ValerieRaePhotography

Facebook: Valerie Rae Photography

Image Credits
Main feature photo is from Taylor Jones Photography

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.