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Hope Taylor is a photographer specializing in senior portraits serving both Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.


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The Biggest Decision I’ve Ever Made


View More: http://thephotographysmiths.pass.us/hope

The last few days have been full of a mix of emotions. From excitement at RU orientation, to sadness, to doubt, second-guessing and confusion…I was a mess. I couldn’t quite pin-point why, but I just could not get myself together. My mom pointed out that I was over-working myself and booking a session EVERY DAY for the entire summer…and I didn’t even notice I was doing it. I just absolutely love what I do, and I wanted to work as much as I could. But, after some thinking, I realized exactly why I was doing it. I was leaving. I knew, that after August 22nd, I would no longer be booking sessions. I knew I would be leaving my entire business behind. Everything that I have worked so hard for in the past year and a half would come to a complete halt. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that I could find new clients and a new market in Radford, but it would be starting from scratch. While, I know I could make this work, I would not be getting the “college experience”. While all of my friends would spend their free time partying and enjoying college, I would be in my dorm room working and trying to re-build my entire business. While my roommate was going out for the weekend, I would be making the 8 hour round-trip home to shoot a wedding. While I was supposed to be studying, I would be stressing about the editing that was being put on the back-burner, because that is where I want my focus to be. This is why I have decided not to attend Radford.

This decision has easily been the hardest (and most stressful) decision that I have ever made, but I feel so much peace and happiness now that I have made it. I woke up sobbing yesterday morning and I shared my thoughts with my parents, best friend and boyfriend. After a slight mental breakdown, I headed out to a senior session, having absolutely no idea what I would come home to. I didn’t know if everyone would think I was crazy, or if my parents would be disappointed, or if my boyfriend (who was planning to attend Radford with me) would be angry. But, after my session, I walked into a house full of people who were prepared to support me 100% with whatever decision I made. My mom and my best friend, Stephany, both told me that they saw this decision coming, even when I had no idea. My boyfriend, after being in complete shock, told me that he would be with me wherever I was and support me in whatever I did. After telling him that I didn’t feel like HIS heart was in it either, his response was “It wasn’t, because my heart isn’t in Radford, it’s in you. Wherever you go, I will too and whatever you do, I will be by your side”. I immediately felt a wave of relief come over me, and my decision had already been made.

Most people attend a university to find who they are and what they want to do, but I already know. My dream has always been to own a business and be a successful photographer, and that is exactly what I have been working so hard for. I cannot imagine not doing what I love. If I had chosen to attend Radford, and not been able to continue my photography business, I would have been lost and miserable. When I am behind my camera, I am in my element. There is no where else I would rather be.

While I will be staying in Fredericksburg to continue my business, I still value the importance of a college degree, and I will be taking classes at our community college this fall before transferring to Mary Washington to pursue my business degree. However, I will be able to follow my dream and continue doing what I love with an amazing group of people by my side.

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

View More: http://thephotographysmiths.pass.us/hope2014-06-29_0003View More: http://thephotographysmiths.pass.us/hope

Photos courtesy of The Photography Smiths


  1. Ashton Kelley says:

    You were born to be a photographer. So proud of you. 😉

  2. Tyler Corvin says:

    Congratulations on taking this huge leap and on making this difficult decision. I know you’ll have an awesome year ahead, will keep growing and be successful!

  3. Steph says:

    Woo hoo, Mary wash!! I loved going there and also got my business degree there!! You’ll do great!! 🙂 try to find time to relax this summer- you deserve it!

  4. Maria Grace says:

    Congratulations girl! That’s a big step. Best of luck, and I know you’ll be awesome!

  5. Mia Santina says:

    I applaud you in making such a big decision. I did my first year at Germanna and then went to UMW. It’s a great school and what I loved is I could work, volunteer with at risk youth and still go to school while at UMW. If I hadn’t chosen to stay here in Fredericksburg, I wouldn’t be doing what I love and be the person I am now. Congrats and good luck!

  6. Aunt Jen says:

    Good for you for following your heart and your instincts, Hope. Tough decision no doubt, but it sure does sound like the best decision for you right now. I love how and what you wrote about it. I can feel the peace this decision brought you and i am so happy for you. You are an amazing young woman and I know you will continue to excel in all you do! Lots of love.

  7. Teddi Walker says:

    Congrats on your decision! It’s a wonderful thing to find your passion and work towards perfecting it! You have already grown so much and the ladies of BP&B look forward to watching you reach full bloom! Let us know if we can help with anything! Congrats and best wishes!

  8. Pan Coakley says:

    Always, always follow your heart, Hope, and you will never go wrong. Wishing you the best in all you do!

  9. Rebekah Hoyt says:

    I am so incredibly proud of you! Making a decision based on where God is leading your heart and your life can sometimes be so hard, but the complete peace you feel since making the decision is simply confirmation of His calling on your life! I’ve lived this in the past six months and while they were incredibly painful, they were also full of more peace than I’ve experienced in a long time. I am so excited for you to continue your journey and pursue your dreams and your calling! xo

  10. James Pennix says:

    Hope, I have always been impressed by you and your photography business. I know that this may seem strange coming from my position (but not the person), but I am proud that you have made the best decision for YOU. I spend alot of time telling students to find their passion and follow their dreams. You are a very talented young lady with passion and character. You are going to be successful no matter where you attend college. Peace and Blessings to you on your future endeavors. Ps 37:4: Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

  11. Gigi Ikwuakam says:

    Oh my gosh! Hope this is literally the best decision you could have made! I too decided to go to community college , because it allows me to focus on building my career! Congrats

  12. Megan Bennett says:

    Hope, work on things that last. Your priorities are in the right place. You don’t need to be a university student to obtain greatness! Good luck!

  13. […] regarding my decision to attend a community college instead of leaving for Radford. (Check out my last post for more details on this!) I’ve gotten HUNDREDS of texts, comments, emails and FB messages […]

  14. Hope Easter says:

    Very inspiring. The Lord will always direct our paths.

  15. Kelly says:

    I think you’ve made a smart decision. I say this because I wish I had done it! My business took off during my sophomore year of college, but I felt like I was wasting time if I didn’t finish my degree. (at the school I was transferring to, also about four hours away from my main client base!) I honestly do think that college was great for me in that it really showed me that I can accomplish things that I never thought I could, but I will graduate this December with a degree in nursing that I’ll probably end up waiting to use because I’m doing what I love with couples and weddings. I’ve sacrificed so much for my business. I make the 8-hour round trip drive almost every weekend for weddings, I edit until 3-4am most nights after I get off a 12hr clinical shift. My business is my baby and my passion, but it is hard to focus on that while watching your friends actually enjoy college. That to say, do what you love!

  16. […] After a few more sessions, I began raising my prices as the demand became too much. Once I saved up enough money, I purchased a Canon 6D, and I raised my prices again. In August before my senior year of high school, right after I turned 17 years old, I got my business license and quit my job. Guys…I was DOING it! This was really happening. I spent the next 6 months working hard to improve, reach new clients and better myself. Then, I spent a full year investing in education and new equipment. I put my ALL into this little business of mine, and then my graduation began creeping around the corner. This dream of mine that I had always wanted was finally coming true…but I was supposed to be leaving for college. This thought haunted my as the last few months of my senior year began to pass way quicker than I expected, and then I graduated. I committed to Radford University, and I was planning on leaving for school. Because, hey, isn’t that what you’re SUPPOSED to do? I mean, that’s what all of my friends were doing. Everyone I knew, all of the people that I had grown to love over 4 years in high school were leaving for college. I never even second guessed the idea of staying at home, because that’s just not what you DO. You don’t go against what everyone else is going, because then everyone thinks you’re crazy. But, one day, I woke up and I just knew that I was not supposed to leave. God had a purpose for me, and I could not fulfill His purpose 400 miles from my home + the city where my entire business was built. So, after fully committing to a school, paying all of the fees, choosing a roommate, buying things for my dorm and telling EVERYONE that I was going to school…I told everyone that I was staying. I woke up one morning in June, and I just cried. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know why, but now I do. It wasn’t in God’s plan for me, and when you trust Him with all of your heart and you allow His plan to lead your life, He is SO faithful, y’all. You can read a little more about that decision and why I decided to not attend a university HERE. […]

  17. […] to follow my dreams instead of attend a university. You can read the entire blog post from that day here. It’s insane to think that only one year has past, but also crazy to think about how fast it […]

hi, y'all!

I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!



Top Three Educational Resources

My Free Senior Questionnaire

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My Entire Client Workflow in Honeybook

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The One Secret To Beautiful Images And Easy Editing

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