Everyone loves a good underdog story –– including us. Whether it’s David defeating Goliath (our son, Beckett’s personal favorite story), or Rocky Balboa taking down Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, there’s something deeply satisfying, on a human level, about watching someone stare down the odds… and succeed.
That’s exactly how we feel about Dana.
Dana is one of our incredible “Trifecta” students, which means she’s enrolled in all three of our photography courses (Shooting & Editing, Posing and Business). But Dana doesn’t just have the normal challenges of running a photography business. Dana’s husband Steve is a submariner in the United States Navy, which means he’s deployed eight months out of the year. There are periods of time (sometimes up to 60 days) where Dana has ZERO contact with him –– including text, phone and email. On top of that, they always have to be ready for a move, and not just a move to another neighborhood or town. Most of the time, their moves are BIG moves. In the last three years alone, they’ve gone from Hawaii to the East Coast and now back out West. For Dana, every time they get a new assignment from the Navy, it means her business has to start all over again. Talk about building a business against the odds! But Dana has done it, over and over, with so much resilience, fortitude… and grace. She’s been a shining example to so many military spouses who are in the same challenging situation she’s in, that you CAN build a successful photography business even in the midst of constant change. We are in awe of Dana and all of our students who are married to (or currently serving) members of the armed forces. They make more sacrifices than we’ll ever know, and we feel so grateful.
A few years ago, Dana was working a job where she felt trapped. Even on the rare occasions when she’d have Steve home, she couldn’t take time off from work to attend military events with him. It killed her. She dreamed of having flexibility with her job and freedom to spoil Steve when he got home from each assignment. So she started taking pictures for friends in their military community. Then, she stumbled upon one of our free photography classes. And before too long, she was enrolled in all THREE of our courses, running a successful photography business that blessed her sweet family all around. She now had the flexibility to visit Steven overseas, or book them a vacation to rest and recharge between assignments. She had found something she is passionate about to focus on during their time apart, and an outlet to bless so many other military families with her incredible homecoming photos. But not only is Dana taking gorgeous photos for these sweet families, and providing extra income for her own family, she’s constantly serving others in our AJ community. She’s always the first to hop in and help someone in our Facebook groups, and never misses a chance to cheer on another student. She even started an AJ military community group, so that other photographers who are also military spouses can be encouraged. We really wouldn’t be surprised if her heart was actually made of gold!
During their latest move from Virginia to California, Dana and Steven decided to make a pit stop in the Arizona desert, and we couldn’t WAIT to get these two behind our cameras. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know Dana and her story from afar throughout the years, but what stood out to us the most to us in person was how deeply in love Dana and Steven are, and the passion they share in their marriage. Even with oceans physically separating them time and time again it’s so clear these two cherish every moment they’re together. It really speaks to the commitment and dedication they share. Steven, thank you for your service to our country, and for loving Dana so well. We can tell that she is so loved and taken care of because those who are poured into, pour into others. We loved every minute of our time with you two, and hope you love seeing yourselves and your love through our lens as much as loved capturing it