St. Augustine Family Photographer | Danielle Brooks Photography
St. Augustine Family Photographer and Family Portrait Photography Studio. Specializing in Family Photography, Senior Portraits, and Head Shot Photography.

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St. Augustine photographer specializing in families, children, and seniors.

Building My Legacy | St. Augustine Photographer

As an incoming freshman at Flagler College you have to attend the annual convocation. As you enter the Auditorium members of the staff and faculty hand you a railroad tie. During the assembly, they are told that today is the first day in the journey to building their legacy.

For those who don't know, Flagler College was originally the Ponce de Leon Hotel built by Henry Flagler. It became a college in 1968. Henry Flagler is most famous for the founding of Standard Oil. He was also the mastermind behind building the East Coast Railway. It runs all throughout Florida and up the East Coast. Henry, being a business man, decided to build a hotel along the railroad, so the elite in society had a place to vacation.

Before he made it big in the oil industry, Henry originally went into business with his brother-in-law to form the Flagler and York Salt Company. With the American Civil War, the demand for salt drastically decreased and they eventually went out of business. Flagler lost the 50,000 he borrowed from his family as well as another 50,000 he saved from years of working. Because Henry Flagler didn't let that failure stop him, he went on leave a legacy that is still standing and impacting thousands of students every year.

I graduated from Flagler College in December of 2009 with a degree in Communication. I got a job straight out of college working at Channel 4 in Jacksonville. After a year, I determined journalism wasn't for me. This was a crushing blow to my career. All my life, I wanted to be a journalist and it didn't work out. Broken and a little lost for direction, a former teacher offered me a job writing press releases part time at Flagler. After a month or two the Web and New Media Services Department, decided to take me on as a contractor for a couple of video projects. Once that work ran out, my boss asked me if I knew how to use a camera. (Rule 1 in journalism, is never pass up an opportunity no matter how unprepared you may be) So I lied through my teeth and started taking pictures. Horrible pictures. But I was doing it, and I was learning quickly.

What was supposed to be a few weeks as a contractor turned into a 4 YEAR stint. I have been so blessed by my Alma Mater. Flagler has given me so many things over the years. It helped me earn a degree, and it gave me my passion for photography.

However, at the beginning of the year, I really started thinking about DBP and how I was going to make it succeed. Because of my job I was able to invest 10 hours a week, but it wasn't enough. My business was stagnant. I wasn't generating enough consistent income to leave my job. I made the decision to give it my all and really start making the effort to get my name out there so that in a year or so, I might be able to reduce my hours. During that time, friends would ask me when I was going to go full time, and I would always say, "I'll know it when it happens, but the time is not now."

Two weeks ago, I was informed that due to budget cuts, my contract had been terminated. Terminated. That's such a horrible word. I was lost again. What was I going to do? I applied for a couple positions, one of which was in the department I was currently working in. But as time went on, I really thought about where I saw myself in 5 years. And if I was honest with myself, I didn't see myself working 40 hours a week for someone else. But I also didn't think I could be full time in my business.

Ironically, I was out for a run the day I was told my contract was terminated and I felt like God was saying, now is the time to run with it. No. That couldn't be it, I wasn't ready for that big decision. But as the last two weeks went on, I started to see how God had prepared me for this moment. He has shown His faithfulness in very apparent ways over the past few months, and He has also shown how He has been preparing me for this moment.

It's time for me to run.

To bring things full circle, if you haven't already drawn the parallel, students are given a railroad tie to remind them that, like Henry Flagler, they too can build a legacy. They are told that throughout their 4-years at the college, they would be given the tools they need to grow and succeed. Most people need 4 years to learn all they can from a college, I'm lucky enough to have had 8.

With all that being said, I am happy to announce that I am officially investing full-time with Danielle Brooks Photography. This is me investing in my legacy. I have been given so many tools by so many people at that school. It has truly been an honor to be there for as long as I was. My good bye was bittersweet. Tears were shed, but I know that what God has for me in the future is far better than what I am leaving behind.

I don't know what that looks like, and that's ok. I hope that as you all journey along with me, you will see how faithful God is to his children when they fully trust Him. I might not get it right all the time and I might epically fail on some aspects of business like Henry Flagler, but Henry never let it stop him, and neither will I. Like Flagler, I won't let failure stop me from building my legacy.

Thank you for your support. I'm so blessed to have you all as my cheerleaders. What big dreams and leaps of faith have you taken recently? Are you on the cusp of greatness, but just need a little nudge? What is your biggest challenge right now?

FYI. For my last day, my super cool former boss, Will, took me and a co-worker up to the roof of the library. I have dreamed of going up there for as long as I've worked there. It was an epic way to end the day. Will also has a website where he discusses fishing and his obsession with Jeeps. It's pretty cool. Do me a solid and check out his stuff, ok? Thanks!