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What Being A D1 Athlete Taught Me


October 22, 2020


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Hi there! Welcome to the Carley Ann Photography journal, a blog about my life, travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

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your guide to the best wedding day timeline

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Part 01. Confidence 

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas I was enveloped in a community that loved horses. They love our cowboy history and have found that special bond with horses and riding that I also came to deeply cherish. Beginning at about age eight, I begged my horse-adverse parents to let me take riding lessons. I believe they thought it would pass, like my time as an elementary school cheerleader did (I could never get that elusive somersault down), but my one lesson a week quickly became the day I looked forward to the most.

That one lesson a week then turned into two which then lead to three, and I eventually found myself on a horse every day until I gained a spot as a D1 NCEA equestrian athlete at the University of Tennessee, Martin. This passion for jumping horses has given me so much more than I could have ever thought possible… It is a sport that I will always cherish, has brought me some of my closest friendships, and has taught me many invaluable life lessons.

One of the most important lessons that horseback riding taught me was to be confident and prepared in any and all situations. A horse knows if you show up to ride and your head is out of the game just as much as your teammates do. By practicing my sport every day for years and gaining confidence in my abilities as an athlete, I was prepared on show days when I had a team of girls counting on me to show up and give it my all.

And this responsibility to know my trade and be prepared doesn’t leave me when I am outside of the show ring. These are skills that I still rely on every day that I am a photographer. When hired to photography your event, you can be confident that I am prepared and will be bringing my A-game (and a ton of extra batteries). With years of learning to shift my game plan both in the ring and during a session, there is no scenario that I won’t be prepared for during our time together.

My week leading up to your session involves all kinds of prep work… from cleaning equipment, ensuring memory cards are empty, batteries are charged, lighting equipment is in the car, your timeline is finalized, extra camera bodies and lenses are all in the bag and ready to go… And once all of that is done, I begin visualizing what your session will look like. I take the information that you provide, your dreams for your day, your “must haves”, and all of the amenities of the venue and begin to conceptualize the process and timeline.

All of this prep work and preparedness ensures that when I arrive I bring a calm and confident vibe, I am ready for any changes, and I can remind you and your loved ones to be grounded in the day and just be present. All of the details have been worked out and will be managed for you. Your only job during your session is enjoy yourself and have fun!   

Part 02. Communication 

Growing up a horse girl in Fort Worth, Texas, there wasn’t much that I wouldn’t trade to spend all of my waking hours at the stables. All of those hours quickly turned into weeks, months, and years until I found myself accepting a spot as a D1 NCEA equestrian athlete for the University of Tennessee, Martin my senior year of high school.

There are many things that being on a team taught me and one of the most important was effective communication. Without good communication in a team setting, there could be a number of huge misunderstandings and assumptions that could cost the team a competition or cause such rifts that we lose focus of our common goal.

But, by allowing for channels of open communication, we can ensure that all parties are not only on the same page but have the same vision. That is why I make the promise to my clients that you will have complete open communication to and from me at all times. Whether it is general check-ins prior to your session or conversations about color schemes and floral arrangements, I am here for you every step of the way. 

Part 03. Community 

When I went to college, there was nothing more important to me than finding my community. I mean, isn’t that what we all want? People that understand us, our hopes, our dreams… people who truly understand who we are at our core. It is our connection to other people that is ultimately the most important thing in life. Because once we find those people or that person who loves us for simply ourselves, we have found home.

And that is what I found myself a spot on the equestrian team at the University of Tennessee, Martin. I found a community of girls that shared the same passion that I did. I had teammates who turned into my very best friends and I will cherish their friendships for the rest of my life.

That is what I hope to also give to you as your photographer… A lifelong cheerleader who can be there for all of life’s biggest moments. To help you capture your graduation, wedding, first child, birthdays, and all of the moments in between.

You have already let me into your community and I value that oh-so much. I promise that I won’t let you down and thank you for inviting me in! 

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I'm Carley and I'm so happy you're here. This journal is a blog about my life, travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

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