Thursday, July 8, 2010
I have known Saleina Epperson for as long as I can remember. She has always had a sweetness to her. We weren’t close friends in school, but I think that was all for the best because now we have a mutual respect for one another that might have other wise not been there. I am grateful to have the chance to write about this amazing lady. Our community is blessed to have her as part of our history, the past, present & future.
Salenia’s story begins with a deep history in the community. Her grandfather Albert C. Mills worked at the mill in Port Gamble his whole life along his side was his loving wife, Agnes Mills together they raised eight children, Linda, Lil, Lois, Aggie, Rena, Liz ( Saleina's mom), Wayne, Kathy, Robert. Like her mother Elizabeth, Saleina attended David H. Wolfle, Poulsbo Middle School & North Kitsap High School.
Saleina was born in Bremerton and spent the first few years of her life bouncing around Kitsap, Mason, & King County, before her parents settled a few miles south of Port Gamble in 1982 when Salenia was just five years old. Growing up there along with her two brother’s Byran & Charles Nelsen, magicaly It was less than a mile from her mother’s childhood home. Her father, Tom Nelsen actually just sold the house not to long ago.
“One of the best things about Kingston is the towns ability to change the visitors state of mind both mentally and emotionally. They get off the ferry and waiting for them is a quaint, down-to-earth town and instantly they start to slow down and relax. They feel so removed from their everyday life, but they're really just a 25 minute ferry ride away from the city...that's awesome if you ask me.”
To watch Salenia talk about her home town is just magical. A true love story. From the little girl she use to be to the grown women raising her own children in the same towns that made her who she is today. It is a great feeling to get to see her be a city lover and small town girl all in the same personality. I like this because I know having family as rich as the two of us do that we have that extra love for our town. It makes us both feel like our town truly is a part of our family.
Ultimately what made Saleina start her business was all the encouragement she received from my husband, family & friends. They all really made her realize her talent and that she could with their love and support come out with a career, the amazing support has left her feeling that her choices have all be the right ones, that lead her down the path that she is on today.
What started her passion of wedding photography was in 2002 with her own wedding, “I LOVE LOVE LOVE weddings.” She said. Newly married, she found herself pregnant & at a family event, her brother had an old Nikon N65 with him, Saleina picked it up, fired off a frame and BAM! She was hooked. Saleina explains that there is really something different about firing off a frame of film.
"You feel like you've really captured that moment in time." In her past she had dabbled with photography and enjoyed it in High school. Like all kids in school she found a hobby at the time. We never truly know at that point in our lives if it will be something that amounts to anything or not. She remembers, “I can still smell the developing solution in the darkroom, yuck!”
From that family event on all she wanted to do was be a wedding photographer. It was the blending of all of her passions, relationships, weddings, photography & the start of someone’s history. She borrowed the camera from her brother that night and started offering to take pictures of everyone that she knew. One thing lead to another and it took her into taking some photography classes and off she went. “ I've never really looked back”. Saleina said.
Slowly she invested in new gear, computers, software, websites, wedding shows, bigger better gear, training & in this economy they did this all without accruing any debt. I know that this has to be a big challenge. In the end, I am sure that she feels so accomplished with doing it this way. One thing that it has taught Saleina is a great deal about patience. I find this so inspiring to be debt free with your own business is this economy is truly something to be proud about.
The word about Saleina Marie Photography is really spreading fast.
“I think building the business over the last six years has really prepared me to be able to handle where I am now.”
The very best part is the fact that she hasn’t had to miss anything in her children’s lives. Coming up with the hours she can or can’t work and having her life long love & best friend her husband, David or other family be able to be with their two children (one girl (5) + one boy (3)), When she does work it is a great bonus for any mom. Not having her own Mom in her life she knows how precious her time with her children is. It might seem silly or little to some people to not miss a school or sports event, Saleina is able to be there and not miss a beat of their crazy busy. (removed text) “I am so blessed! How awesome is my job? I get to meet & work with fabulous people, share a super intimate day with them, and create a journal of the day they committed to each other...a little piece of their history. That rocks! “
The one charity that Saleina holds near and dear to her heart is the Hospice of Kitsap County. When she lost her Mom seven years ago, they were amazing to her mother & her family as a whole. “They really helped my family so very much. What they do is absolutely unbelievable.” Every year she runs in the Whaling Day's race in Silverdale trying to raise money & awareness for them. They mean a lot to her and many families in the community. The other thing that she raise’s money for is the public & Private schools. Saleina donates a family portrait session to a couple of the local area schools every year. It is something she finds herself wanting to give back a little bit to her town.
Her plan is to continue to learn and grow as a person and photographer and sharing it all as she goes. feeling like the sky is limit for her and that to Salenia is a good feeling.
Saleina made it a point to tell me her outlook on her self evolving that on a personal level patience & perseverance is something that she tries to remember daily. This just tells you the kind of person Saleina is, she will continue to learn and grow. Not only as a photographer but in her personal life as well.
What is different about her then some wedding photographers is the fact that she takes the time to sit and reflect she thinks of her peers in the photography community as her allies, when most people would think of it as someone that is their competitor.
When she is meeting with a client she isn’t the important one. Saleina Marie Photography is the back ground, not the focus. “ I want to be a person that lifts up others...whether they choose me for their wedding photography or not,” she states.
When I asked her why she decided to keep her business local, She quickly and honestly answered “I love it here. I lived in the city after high school and I loved it, but in my heart I'm kind of a country girl. Being here I can have the best of both worlds. I really just can't imagine being anywhere else.”
So do yourself a favor & check Saleina Marie Photography out, she is crazy talented & I know the next time I do a family photo session I know that I will contact her for sure. My husband & I are planning on re-newing our vow’s next year and if I can talk Saleina to take the time to do our photos I know who I want to do them.
Salenia’s contact information is: www.saleinamarie.com or firstname.lastname@example.org