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The Woman Behind the Camera: Rachael Kramer

"A good photographer initiates a connection with their subject that allows them to feel comfortable. I attribute my success as a photographer to this skill." Meet Rachael Kramer, a 22-year-old student at Florida State University, pursuing a dual degree in Nursing and Family & Child Sciences. This is her fifth year here at FSU. However, Rachael is not just a student; she is also the owner of Rachael Anne Photography, a business that photographs senior portraits, weddings, newborns and so much more. Currently, newborn photography is her favorite type of photography and she is hoping to try out astrophotography. Her favorite place to take students for their graduation shoots on FSU's campus is Doak Campbell Stadium because of its fantastic lighting!

She was given her first DSLR camera at the age of thirteen by her father, who shares her love and passion for photography. She was fortunate to travel the world with her father, who works for the airlines at a young age, and they were able to bond over their love for photography together. While in high school, Rachael took AP Studio Art with a concentration in photography (twice). As soon as she entered Florida State for her freshman year, she joined the Phocus Photography Club as a member and continued to be one until she opened her business in 2018. As an alum of Pi Beta Phi, she was also able to become the Senior Photographer for the first-ever panhellenic magazine at FSU.

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Many people may wonder how a nursing student came to operate her own photography business. Still, Rachael says that there is more of a connection between the two than you may think. "Photography has taught me to become perceptive of and relatable to my subjects. I have become experienced at picking up cues and analyzing body language. Overall, I learned how to better understand people and their social situations. With a diverse population, I believe these skills are critical in understanding patients' needs. I aspire to combine the skills I have learned through my photography with my passion to succeed and achieve in nursing." Rachael's connections to nursing can also be seen in her recent decision to offer headshots for nursing and aspiring nursing students to raise money for the Coronavirus Relief Fund for Nurses, for which several students have already signed up!

Rachael has always been confident in her decision to become a nurse, but she has struggled and needed to find an outlet that she could control like the rest of us. Life has a habit of taking us on rollercoaster rides that we never expected, but as Rachael says, that's often a good thing. "Life does not always go as planned. And if it did, my future-oriented, perfectionist-self would simply be too comfortable, a position that inhibits growth." When Rachael first applied to FSU's nursing program three years ago and was not accepted, she chose to return to and focus on her passion for photography while in college to grow as a person. At first, she feared the uncertainty and the fact that her college experience was going to be different than she imagined, but she is now happy that those changes did happen! She didn't immediately start her business, and she waited until she had enough experience and was confident enough that fellow students began asking her to take their graduation photos. 

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Rachael's advice for a person who is just starting their business or attempting to grow their following on social media is: "Be passionate! When people see you are passionate about what you do, they will support you." And if you are specifically trying to start a photography business, "try to connect with other photographers who share your passion." This piece of advice is actually how this article came to be! As some of you may know, during our "Coronacation," I decided to start my own photography business, and I immediately looked for fellow photographers for inspiration and insight, which is how I found Rachael. I fell in love with her editing style and her exceptional talent and have been following her ever since! Like how Rachael is one of my photography inspirations, she says @marinawphoto inspires her on Instagram, an alumnus of Florida State who currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, while working as an educator and freelance photographer.

She also recommends that when approaching your photography business' social media, you "think about why your followers followed you in the first place — how can you benefit them?" She says that "a big portion of my followers consist of clients and other photographers who want to learn from and support me. Posting often and consistently is important, but I think it's even more important is to show what you do behind the scenes. I get tons of engagement when I post 'befores and afters' and when I show my editing process."

When it comes to the future, Rachael is not wholly certain where she will end up, but she is sure that she wants to be near a college campus to continue taking graduation photos. She hopes to make photography an even larger part of her life once she walks across the graduation stage and receives her diploma from Florida State.

Finally, when asked what she would say to herself back in 2018 when she was first starting her business, Rachael said she would say, "You should have done this sooner girl!" Therefore, what are you waiting for? We all have dreams. We all have things that we have thought about doing but have never done because we are scared of failure. But failure only occurs when you decide to stop trying, and more often than not, our leaps of faith are worth it. So, whatever you dream is, go for it!

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Taylor Gabrovic is a sophomore studying criminology and editing, writing, and media at Florida State University. She was born and raised for most of her life in Chapin, South Carolina, but her family has since relocated to Cape Coral, Florida. She owns and operates her own photography business that specializes in portraits and events. She adores Criminal Minds, Law and Order: SVU, football, southern cooking, sweet tea, Taylor Swift, and she still has hope that One Direction will have a reunion. To find out more about Taylor feel free to check out her Instagram @taylorgabs_
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