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Conversations with the Inspiring Jaclyn Cage

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaclyn Cage.

Jaclyn, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was looking for an internship before finishing college, so being a photographer, I reached out to the only photographer I was familiar with–Jackie Cooper–who photographed my best friend’s wedding. She took me on as an intern/2nd photographer and within one week of learning with her, I had photographed a senior session and my first wedding! I honestly didn’t think I would like photographing weddings, but I fell in love with it! After that internship, I started my own photography business and did that for five years until I needed a break and cut back on shooting weddings. I mostly 2nd shot with other local photographers for a while after that.

Then, I met Ryan, my now fiance, by going on a month-long road trip together (we didn’t know each other beforehand, but had friends in common). He was previously a traveling photographer, doing a lot of big hikes and exploring the West. As we fell in love and our relationship got really serious–we realized that what we both wanted was to combine our passions and move out West to focus on elopements and intimate weddings in the great outdoors.

We love National Parks (we lived and worked in the Grand Tetons for a summer) and so do our clients. So, to be able to hike with a couple who want to be immersed in nature, with the one they love, saying their vows in a secluded spot… it is just amazing to me. I love how each couple can bring the focus of weddings back onto what matters – expressing their love and committing to one another. And instead of a church, they get to do it how they want — hiking up a mountain, doing a sunrise session in Sedona, off-roading in their jeep in Moab, whatever they want, we help them make that happen.

We’ve really been in the pursuit of freedom, or what that means to us, and living our life in a way that speaks truth to who we are. We’ve lived in a van, a National Park, traveled overseas–anything that helps us have richer experiences in life. It’s what we do to nurture ourselves, but it’s also what we do for our clients. It’s very fulfilling for me, and now that I have this lifestyle, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to where I am hasn’t been smooth–but it’s been well worth it. I think the primary struggle, especially for any young women starting out, is that you get told “no” a lot. Any time that you’re diverting from your current path in life, even the closest people around you might be in opposition. And that can be really tough. We moved out West, invested all of our savings into our van, and went full-time building our business from the ground up together. There was zero experiences in my life, other than having experience shooting weddings, that said, I should do this. I had an instinct and I stuck to it.

We haven’t been truly comfortable until this Spring. For 3 years, we’ve put ourselves in uncomfortable situations that force us to grow. But after all of that growth, you become a totally different person. You become the person that your instincts lead you to be. We’ve had countless struggles living in a van 24/7 together running a brand new business (as you can imagine). So often, we’d sit there thinking, “Are we crazy? Are we supposed to do this?” My advice, and understanding after a while, is that if you’re doing anything worth while–you’ll probably feel the same way. Challenges come as a force of friction when departing from your current reality, and if they come from a deliberate plan of action–those challenges are a positive thing. We got in the habit of acting on our ideas–and learning from mistakes, rather than wondering in fear.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into More Van Anything story. Tell us more about the business.
Through figuring out exactly what niche of photography I wanted to do, I have landed on outdoor adventure elopements and intimate weddings. I work with couples who are marrying on the side of a cliff with just the two of them, I work with couples and their immediate family down at a beach where they have a picnic in the woods right after, I work with couples and a handful of their closest friends as they hike Half Dome in Yosemite. I work all over the US – mostly the West half, and I love it. My fiance is my 2nd shooter, who reads the maps and knows the trails better than I do, and we live/travel around in our van, Moonbeam, to most of our sessions. We tag-team a lot of aspects of the business, and I am forever grateful for that. We’ve built a business off the knowledge of my other photography business and are having the time of our lives! I’m probably proudest of our lifestyle being a reflection of the couples and weddings we’re a part of. Our work and our couples really reflect who we are–and that tells me I’m doing the right thing in life. We’re experience-driven people, so while I’m a photographer, at the forefront, I’m more focused on creating a beautiful experience. I’d like to think that most clients who walk away from their wedding day gain more from the experience of working with us than the actual photos. That’s just how much we emphasize experience.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I had people in my life help build my confidence up in my artistic way of living – I painted, took photographs, traveled, and loved helping others. This has translated into me being a people person and feeling confident that my job is a real job – not an “artsy-fartsy” job that won’t make any money. I believe wholeheartedly that if you work hard and learn everything you can about your job, you can succeed in making a living.

I love working with couples, and their guests, in creating a fun, relaxed adventurous day for them to get married! When I am working with them, I don’t feel like it’s a job, it’s like friends hanging out. Then, I get home, sit in front of my computer and realize, “Yes, this is a job. Bring on the hours of editing, million emails and to-do’s.” 🙂

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