Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Alepin.
Hi Sara, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started out as a highly extroverted Photography teacher in 2005. I worked my way through my MFA in Photography and Digital Imagery, which I financed by photographing weddings during the summers, and I taught collegiate courses in the evenings and summers.
Then, in May 2011, I was attacked by a student while verbally intervening (the way teachers are trained to do). One of the major nerves that run between my knee and my foot died.
Where I didn’t have numbness, I had pain; I suffered from PTSD (I am now in remission) and couldn’t go back to teaching. Huge bummer.
I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, so I kicked my photography business, Photos from the Harty, into high gear and started looking for a team of photographers to work with me so I would be able to physically manage capturing weddings and events.
I started attending networking events and struggled to find the “right” ones — events where there was a sense of community and people were excited to hear about your business and support one another.
I kept striking out. Other photographers saw me as competition, but I was trying to hire them.
I decided to break the system and founded District Bliss to bring people together who want to collaborate, support, and even hire one another. District Bliss now hosts networking socials, workshops, and events to help you skyrocket your business with ease! We’re all about authentic, meaningful connections.
In 2019, I started my podcast, The Wedding Dish, where I interview real couples and wedding pros about life, love and entrepreneurship. Through this platform, I’ve worked to shine a light on the importance of mental health, body positivity, inclusivity, and accessibility.
I will be speaking at Podcast Movement, the largest podcast conference in the world, in Nashville, TN, in August!
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My disability and mental health situations. I have limitations on the amount of time that I can stand, so if a wedding or event is longer than that timeframe, I have to bring an additional photographer to support me.
Obviously, the pandemic canceled and postponed a lot of weddings, which took a toll financially. Luckily, I went hybrid events for District Bliss in 2019, so that wasn’t much of a “pivot” (so sick of that word) and I was able to recover some of my finances through events, courses, and our yearly membership.
Running two businesses is obviously time-consuming, especially when one of those businesses is physically demanding and weddings generally take place on the weekends. That means that I’ve missed a lot of time with my friends and family. Luckily, I was able to bring on an administrative team that is incredible, so unless I’m photographing a wedding, I’m able to take evenings and weekends off without missing a beat!
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Photos from the Harty: I specialize in wedding photography. I love capturing weddings because it fills my extroverted heart up to be surrounded by so many happy people gathering to celebrate. Weddings are not without drama, however, because when so many people are invested in an important event in the couple’s lives, emotions come up. As a former teacher, I have a gift that allows me to soothe any drama that arises and helps everyone refocus on the positive.
District Bliss: I am a master connecter. I can hold space for what each of our community members is looking for or may need as a business owner and then connect them with the perfect fit; whether it’s referrals for a team or ideal client and everything in between!
Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I LOVE BALTIMORE! I can’t let a summer pass without going to at least one O’s game!
I love spending time in the parks, going to the zoo or the aquarium, strolling along the water, and frequenting bars to socialize with friends and people who are not friends yet!
Photographing in Baltimore is so much fun. From the water views to the parks to the cityscapes to the Inner Harbor – there’s a little bit of everything and it’s easy to move around the city (gotta love that grid layout!) to incorporate all three easily into one wedding day!
Crime is obviously a problem. I lived in Fed Hill in the early 2000’s and cars were constantly being broken into.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: photosfromtheharty.com, districtbliss.com, theweddingdishpodcast.com
- Instagram: @photosfromhart, @districtblissevents, @theweddingdishpodcast
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhotosFromTheHarty, https://www.facebook.com/DistrictBlissEvents, https://www.facebook.com/theweddingdishpodcast
- Other: I also have a comedy podcast called Laughing with Gingers: laughingwithgingers.com
Photos from the Harty