The next Q-and-A takes us on a journey back to Northeast PA, where WZP was based out of for about a year before our family's move.
I met a lot of incredible creatives who became friends -- some of them still my closest friends that I've already shared on this blog -- and Seneca was an incredible person I had the pure joy of meeting in 2015. After cyber-stalking her slightly for a few weeks ahead of time, we met at a styled shoot we were both participating in and she just gave the biggest smile and loveliest hug! I'll never forget feeling so welcome to this new area and to these other established vendors.
And her work. Wow! She captures some of the most beautiful images I've ever seen and she does it with a mix of grace, faith and kindness. She shared with me a little bit about getting into both wedding photography and her bridal dress shop business, plus her favorite styled shoot and what the future holds.
Tell us a little bit about you and your journey. How did you begin? Was there a "moment" where you just knew this is where you wanted your life to go?
I’m Seneca & I’m a wedding photographer & dress boutique owner from small town Montrose, PA! I started photography 7 years ago (in January) when my mom had my little sister, Selah, the first girl after 4 brothers in a row! I was beyond thrilled & took photos of her constantly! I then began to help our family friend, Lindsey Bonnice, with different things with her business. She is a children & family photographer and was gracious in letting me help & learn through everything she did! After working with her for a couple years, I started shooting a few sessions on my own for friends & families we knew. I quickly learned that children & families were not my foray, and seniors sessions always left me inspired and wanting more. I am the oldest of 10 kids, so when I go to work, I didn’t want to be chasing kids around! ;) With that, I started photographing seniors! In those early years, my business grew from purely word of mouth, I didn’t have any website or social media at all because I was still young! My first wedding came in 2013, when one of the girls I took senior photos for got married! It’s one of my favorite weddings and ignited my love for weddings!! Since then, I have just chased after that! I wouldn’t say that there was a specific “moment” , but there were lots of little moments that helped me along in deciding which direction to go!
What has been the biggest challenge in this adventure so far? How did you overcome it? What lesson did you learn in the process, if any?
One of the biggest challenges in my adventure so far was overcoming the fear of doing something out of the ordinary or what society tells you to do. My high school (& now college years) were definitely different than my friends lives and at times I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t chose to chase after the photography dream & now the bridal shop dream too! Although, at the end of the day, I’m so thankful for making the hard decision, and working to get to where I am now. I got through the hard decisions with the love & support of my parents, family, and closest friends. I think I have the best support group & cheerleaders, as they seem to know when I’m having a day that I need a boost to get through! The lesson I learned through the process is that life is more than just the ordinary and God has so many wonderful surprises & blessings when we choose to follow His path for our life, even when it is hard!
Let’s talk about styled shoots for a minute! How many would you say you’ve done and why are they so important (and enjoyable)? Do you have any favorite vendors you love working on for these? (and links, please)
Styled Shoots are one of my favorite things to do, I try to do one each month! These are a creative outlet for me and also an opportunity for me to build relationships with other vendors in the industry! I want to be able to refer my brides with confidence to certain vendors and by working with them on styled shoots, I am able to see their quality of work & their customer service! A few of my favorite vendors are
Patchwork Planning : www.patchworkplanning.com
Forget Me Not Vintage Rentals : www.fmnvr.com
Flourish & Grace Calligraphy: https://www.facebook.com/flourishgracecalligraphy/
Tell me a little bit about your favorite styled shoot so far and why you loved it so much.
My first styled shoot holds a very special place in my heart…I still remember the planning process of it 3 years ago! It was held at The Olde Birchardville Store’s Tea Room, and my best friend, Lindsey & her husband were the models along with 6 of our other friends! I was so nervous to approach vendors asking for them to get involved because even 3 years ago, the idea of a community of vendors was almost non-existent, especially in our town. The dresses we used in the shoot were from Ruthann’s Bridal, which became Seneca’s Bridal just 9 months later! How crazy is that? God works in crazy ways!
And we need to talk about Seneca’s Bridal and Dress Boutique! When did this begin and how did you come up with the idea?
Oh boy, this was a journey I never ever planned on! I was a senior in high school and all set to go to business school at one of the local colleges. I wasn’t excited about college because I knew I wanted to be a photographer but at the same time, I wanted to go away to school. In May of 2014, my mom heard that the bridal shop in our small town was for sale & mentioned to me in a car ride how it might be a cool addition to the photography business. I should mention that I am a dreamer & a planner…so when I get an idea, I immediately started thinking of the possibilities. But the reality was that I was 18 & all set to go to college, there was no way that buying a bridal shop was a possibility. However, my Dad and I decided to go talk to the owner, just to see. Well, the rest is history. After talking to the owner, I spent 2 weeks praying and thinking, and praying some more. I had never felt so much peace about a decision, which was extremely scary at the time! After the 2 weeks, I decided that this was where God was calling me & I took the next steps. My prayer through this whole process was “God, if this is not your will, slam a door in my face, make it so clear to me”, and He left all the doors wide open. On June 1, 2014, I became the owner of the bridal boutique in Montrose Pa & it became Seneca’s Bridal!
What does it offer? What new additions have happened this year?
We offer bridal dresses, bridesmaids dresses, tuxedo rentals & prom dresses! In July, we moved to a brand new location just down the street and we love it. Our old location was an old building that had heating & plumbing issues, so when there was an opportunity to move, again God made it clear that this was the right choice! We moved to The Tannery which was the old publishing company in Montrose, & newly renovated this past year by a local business!
Will the shop continue to expand? What are the plans for the next year?
Our prayer is that it does!! We have a lot of exciting things coming up this year, including Prom Pop Up Shows in Binghamton & Scranton, along with bringing in new bridal dress lines!
Seneca's Bridal and Dress Boutique opened in Montrose in 2014.
How should a woman go into searching for a dress? Is it the same philosophy regardless of bride versus bridesmaid versus a high school prom? What do you recommend as far as planning and timing?
We always recommend for women to go into dress shopping with an open mind because what you might think looks good, might not be what you’re expecting! If you’re open minded, we can help you find the dress that makes you feel amazing but if you aren’t, it’s a hard blow when you realize what you always thought you’d wear, doesn’t make you feel great! Yes, I would say that its the same philosophy for bride & prom. As for bridesmaids, be easygoing & wear whatever the bride wants you to! It’s her day, don’t be miserable about what you have to wear!
For bridal, plan on four to five months, bridesmaids about three months, and prom can be off the rack or anywhere from one month to three months for ordering!
What brings you the greatest joy in what you do?
Photography is my first & greatest love, and nothing brings me greater joy in the businesses than when I get to spend time with a couple who is madly in love & capture that for them. I believe that as photographers our mission should be capturing today in a way that will evoke stories & the feeling of being there when the photos are pulled out in 50 years to show our grandchildren!
I also love getting to work with my sister Hunter! She is 2 years younger than me and is my second photographer for all the weddings I photograph. We’ve become the best friends throughout the past couple years and she is amazing! We complement each other well and it’s a joy to be able to work alongside of her!