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Disciplined from years in the military, Debora Schwedhelm is a self-taught photographer and mother of three who “dreamed big” and achieved her goal of running a successful photography studio and business.

Name
Debora Schwedhelm

City / State
San Diego, CA

What was your big dream?
My big dream has always been to become a photographer. I clearly remember saying to my friends, “I would love to be a photographer one day. Some day.”

I didn’t have much parental guidance growing up. No help with homework. No guidance as to pursuing a degree, goals, aspirations, etc. When I graduated high school, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse (because what else was I supposed to do or become?). I didn’t like nursing in college and decided to take a semester off and enlist in the Army Reserves. Don’t ask me why? Just lost I guess. Came back and continued in the nursing program, graduating with a BS in Nursing in 1992. In 1993, I joined the Air Force as a Registered Nurse (I felt like I had nothing keeping me home, in Detroit, MI). I did really well as a Nurse, receiving numerous awards and an Air Force scholarship to get my Masters in Nursing, which I completed in 2000. But I never really loved nursing…I knew it wasn’t for me. I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do in life. Prior to 2002, I’m not sure I ever imagined myself pursuing my dream of becoming a photographer…it was always just a dream…and I thought I would always just continue plugging along doing a profession (a job) that I didn’t love.

How did you accomplish it?
In 2002, I married my second husband and began pursuing getting my oldest child a cochlear implant (CI). She is hearing impaired with a progressive loss and finally in 2002, her hearing loss became bad enough that I could begin the fight for her to qualify for a CI. I knew that being in the military and the therapy involved with a CI were not compatible and in 2003, after 10 years Active Duty, I applied to get out of the Air Force. And pregnant with my second child, I became a stay at home Mom (something I never dreamed of doing…but ended up loving). In 2005, with the support of my husband, we decided to invest in camera equipment and I would pursue my dream full force. I studied all night, every night (9 PM – 2 AM usually). And practiced a couple hours during the day, every day…usually with my three kids as my subjects. Today, I’m proud to say that I’m an entirely self taught child, family photographer. I have my own successful photography business, Deb Schwedhelm Photography, have been internationally published and recently received my first gallery acceptance.

Where did you find inspiration to get started?
My inspiration came from dreaming big, following my true passion, having the confidence that I could do it and the support of my husband. Without these things, I could have never have done it.

What motivated you to keep going?
I want to say nothing. But does that make sense? When you are following your passion, it doesn’t really take anything to stay motivated. I’m so loving what I’m doing. And truly, you just have to dream big because what do you have to lose!!

What’s your next Big Dream?
My next big dreams are to continue getting published in magazines, get accepted into more gallery exhibits (I was accepted into my first exhibit a few weeks ago) and someday have a photography book published. I’d love to be a ‘famous’ photographer too 🙂

When you were 5 what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can’t remember

What about when you were 15?
a Doctor

Now, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Exactly what I’m doing now

What book is on your night stand?
None

What’s your Guilty Pleasure? (Grey’s Anatomy, Peppermint Mocha Lattes)
Reality TV and morning coffee

What song moves you?
Any song by my friend, Ashley Gramins. She’s another woman/Mom following her dreams. My children and I totally dig her music.

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