I'm thrilled to introduce you to Ellen Jalosky. Ellen and I and our families participated together in Awana and homeschool activities many years ago, and she and I recently reconnected through Instagram. Today she is going to share about her adventure in photography and entrepreneurship and how her faith has carried her through many hard times.
I hope you enjoy this conversation with Ellen as much as I did! And if you're from the Pittsburgh, PA or Deep Creek, MD areas, definitely consider her for your photography needs. She does an excellent job at capturing lasting memories.
Obviously, you love photography. What sparked that passion?
There are many things that contributed to my passion for photography. First, my great grandfather was a professional photographer! Many of his photos hang around my grandparents’ house of my dad and my uncle when they were very little. His darkroom for developing film was in the same location of my childhood bedroom. My family used to say the residual chemicals from that seeped into my brain making me a photographer. Kind of like spiderman or the hulk! Haha.
My grandma used to always have a simple film camera in her hands. And my mom made scrapbooks with many of her photos and our own from important moments in our lives. I really cherish having those memories to hold onto. My grandma bought me my very own camera when I was a teenager, and I took it everywhere and photographed everything. My friends thought I was crazy, always taking their photos, but I learned so much just in a short time. I took a class at our homeschool co-op where I learned to shoot with manual settings, and that’s when it really sparked something inside of me that maybe I could do this forever!
When did you decide that photography is what you desired to pursue as a career, and what training did you receive?
My senior year of high school, I was trying to decide on what I would go to college for. I didn’t want to go without a plan, and I was really interested in the medical field. I actually enrolled in the Radiology Program at our local community college, and then a few weeks later, the Lord changed my mind. It didn’t feel right, and as I looked through the other options, photography jumped out at me.
Halfway through my associates degree in Multimedia and Photography, I began an internship with a local wedding photographer! I had no expectations of loving weddings or pursing that as a career, but I immediately fell in love! She taught me so much about weddings and making sure to get all the important shots. Being a part of a couple’s “best day ever” gave me an even bigger passion for my work.
I completed my degree in 2012 and jumped straight into my wedding photography business. I photographed around 75 weddings just in my first two years, which is absolutely insane to me. I also worked a full-time job making all of the editing work very challenging.
Over the years, I’ve taken various other online courses on lighting and business, which have set me up for great success.
What do you love most about running your own business, and what is the hardest part?
The thing I love the most is the people I have met along the way. My photos often tell the stories of their lives and being able to capture something so important and making it last forever is a dream come true. I have often captured the last photo of someone, and being able to hand that precious memory to their family has given me renewed purpose and joy.
Having photographed over 200 weddings, many of my past clients come back for family photos each year. My clients turn into great friends and there is nothing better than that.
The hardest part right now is definitely finding time to complete my editing. I have two precious girls, who I am privileged to be at home with thanks to this job, and I am no longer a night owl like I used to be. (Getting older and having children does that to you, LOL.) Many people don’t realize that the vast majority of my work takes place during the week, on my computer, between 9 PM and midnight. That’s when everyone is asleep, and I can concentrate for an extended period of time. Going to my sessions on the weekends is so much fun and definitely the easy part.
What advice or encouragement would you give someone considering entrepreneurship?
Don’t be afraid to work a full-time job while you are starting your own business. For my first 5 years, I invested everything I earned through photography back into my business, and it really paid off. The hours and long and being your own boss requires a lot of self- motivation.
Take some business classes. It is extremely important to know how to handle your finances and taxes in those first years until you can hire someone to do it for you.
Stand firm in what you believe in. Your business should reflect your personality and your values. You are the face of your business and people will want to know you personally. So be sure to share about yourself often!
Lastly, you’ve got this! There will be many people who will say you won’t make it, but keep on going and prove them wrong.
What is one of your favorite photography memories?
Way back at the beginning of my career, when I was interning and assisting another photographer, we were at a wedding reception, and a very drunk guest picked up the other photographer, threw her over his shoulder and paraded her around the dance floor. It was shockingly scary at the moment because she nearly dropped her camera, but I got a photo of it, and we still laugh about it to this day.
In what ways has God most grown your faith and trust in Him?
When I decided to change majors before beginning college, I didn’t know what I was doing. In fact, I thought it was silly. But God has continually shown me through the years that when I follow His leading, and remain in his will, he will provide all of my needs.
I wanted to go into the medical field because of a condition that I was diagnosed with at the age of 12 called hydrocephalus, which is an extremely rare condition for a teenager to develop. I’ve had two brain surgeries, and the pressure in my head really affected my eyesight. The outcome of that would leave me with dwindling eyesight between my 30’s-40’s. When I finished college at 19, I went for an eye exam to see how my eyes were progressing, and the ophthalmologist started laughing with glee when he saw my results. There was no damage to my eyes. The Lord had healed me and took away my fears that I had chosen the wrong career, because I need my eyes to be a photographer! And He came through.
Another way that the Lord has grown my faith in Him is in the way He provides. In our first years of marriage, we struggled to make ends meet. But God always came through. I would make just enough money to help pay the bills and move on to the next week. He has always given me the work that I need, and I am so grateful.
What is your favorite Bible passage and why?
Psalm 46 starts like this “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in
trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” And it ends with “Be still, and know that I am God.”
This chapter has been a great comfort to me throughout my whole life as I’ve gone through sickness, surgeries, unknown medical conditions, miscarriages, and grief.
God is who He says He is. He’ll help you through the hard times. He’ll be your provider. He’ll be your safe place. All we must do is be still. Verse 11 says “The LORD Almighty is with us.” And He still is today in this chaotic world.
What is something else you would like people to know about you?
After 11 years of photographing weddings, I’ve decided to take a step back and focus on what comes afterwards! I am photographing primarily families, maternity, and senior sessions now. I hope to take on a few small elopements throughout the year as well because “I just love love,” as a reindeer from Frozen says. I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with my family as they grow, and taking a step back is how God is leading me to do that at this time.
My husband Jonathan and I will be married for 6 years in January. We actually met a wedding that I was photographing over 250 miles away in another state, but we lived 5 minutes apart. Another act of God’s mighty power bringing us together.
We have two beautiful girls here on earth who are 4 and 2. We also have two beautiful girls in heaven that we lost too soon. Our dog d’Artagnan doesn’t get nearly enough attention from me, but he’s the best dog I could ever ask for.
I am currently homeschooling my oldest daughter for kindergarten this year! I was homeschooled from preschool through 12th grade, and it just seemed completely natural for me to teach my own kids as well.
If you would like to follow me, I post on Instagram and Facebook under Lasting Memories by Ellen! You can also visit my website, lastingmemoriesbyellen.com.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and encouragement on the blog today, Ellen!