March 10, 2020
I want to let you guys in on a huge secret. For the past few months, Tanner and I have been praying, hoping, wishing and waiting to get into PA school. Over the past few years we’ve been really big about supporting each other’s dreams, and as you can see he’s supported mine, and now it’s my chance to support his.
It has been Tanner’s dream his entire life to work in the medical field.
When we got married, Tanner was a freshman in college, and I had just graduated and was pursuing my dream as a wedding photographer. He ended up realizing that Physician Assistant (PA) profession was the one that he wanted to do so after so many late nights becoming an EMT getting certified as a CNA and taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations). Working endless nights doing anatomy and physiology, he finally realized that he needed to apply to PA school.
Something about us is that we have always been a photography and videography team. We’ve lived in the Rexburg area and have served the Jackson Hole area for several years now. He’s actually so good at videography, and it’s so funny seeing him actually pursue this incredible career because he’s so dang good at video. You can see some of his works here.
PA schools are incredibly competitive and honestly we had no idea where we were going or if we were even going to get in this round, most often it takes a few rounds of applying to get into a PA school. We spent so many nights lying awake and praying and talking and worrying and wondering where our future is going to be especially with me having built a business in Jackson Hole that has helped support us throughout his entire college experience.
Let me share a little bit of our journey and how we were able to find out we got into Knoxville. Tanner started applying to schools in July. He took the GRE, he’d spent hours laboring to get a really good GPA, and then build up those clinical hours so that he could be competitive amidst all the other applicants. He applied to 11 schools. We invested so much time and money into that it was crazy. By the time August hit, we were all submitted and it was absolutely terrifying putting ourselves out there into the world, without knowing we were where we were going to go.
We got an interview at first for Hardin Simmons in Texas. Tanner flew out there by himself, interviewed and we still actually haven’t heard anything back. Getting an interview even, just ONE interview your first round is such a big deal, we were so so excited. We were surprised in December to receive an invitation to interview in Knoxville at South College. This time, I wanted to go because if he ended up making it into Knoxville I wanted to be able to have enough work to showcase that when we did move or if we did move we would have some experience with the locations, and people there.
I set up three stylized shoots, and an amazing interview with a great wedding planner in the area. Tanner racked his brain studying anatomy and physiology for an exam that he was going to be taking during the interview process, and we both took off on the plane, nervous and excited and completely jittery. Honestly, I don’t think we’d ever been so terrified discouraged exhilarated, or worried.
As soon as we landed we got to the hotel, dropped off our stuff, and then immediately went to a stylized shoot. A photographer in the area, Jade Adams, had helped me set up a stylized shoot with the cutest couple ever. We wondered around this gorgeous river and began photographing them. After being in Rexburg for so long, basically covered in snow from head to toe, it was so nice being able to feel the sun on my face and be able to shoot. After shooting that night, we rushed to the nearest Italian restaurant and shoved as much food into our faces as possible. It was so good.
We fell asleep talking about how nervous we were. Tanner literally forgot a white shirt for his interview and had to run out to the store to grab one last minute, just to show you how scatterbrained we were!
The next morning we woke up, got dressed and I dropped off Tanner. I remember my stomach dropped as he left the car, and I literally called my mother-in-law because I was so terrified what we would do if we got in and what we would do if we didn’t get in. I kind of felt like we were putting everything on the table and that this was our last chance. We had been rejected by several colleges already, and we didn’t have any interviews left, so we basically assumed that this was it. Tanner left the car thinking he wasn’t going to get in at all.
I remember driving to my session and thinking okay, if he doesn’t get in, then at least I had an amazing experience seeing and visiting Knoxville. I honestly feel like those stylized shoots were such a great way to keep me calm. As I got to work with the amazing couples and photographer Jade Adams, I was able to shoot and learn about the area and ask all of the dumb questions about what Tennessee is like, what the South is like, and what kind of areas I could photograph at that would allow me to still become a destination elopement photographer.
These guys answered so many questions and made my experience so incredible. Honestly, I could feel so much peace from God about this place. as I drove around and looked at all of the incredible beauty that Knoxville has to offer, I felt like it could totally be our home. After the session, I drove to the most amazing breakfast spot, and I finally tried grits, biscuits and gravy and all the good southern food that definitely made me gain 3 lbs while I was there.
Allison from Live Love Laugh Weddings took two and a half hours of her valuable time to just talk to me about all the incredible things that Knoxville has to offer. She taught me about the amazing culture that Knoxville has, what’s important to brides here, and how I can serve my clients even more effectively. She honestly took me by the hand and led me down an awesome path and I’m so grateful for her.
Right after our meeting, I got a call from Tanner saying that he was about to be given his notice as to whether he got in or not. Something that’s really unusual for PA schools to give feedback right away, but with South College, they will tell you at the end of the day whether you got into their program or not. Talk about intense!
So, I started driving back to our hotel, saying prayers and wondering if we were even going to be getting in. Honestly, I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I just started to try and accept the fact that we weren’t going to get in. I didn’t know how long Tanner was going to take so I just waited in the hotel room, nervously watching TV and waiting for him to call me.
I called my mom super nervous and just tried to tell her about my morning’s experience when Tanner called me. He told me that he needed to be picked up. like a jerk, he didn’t tell me anything about whether he got in or not.
He must’ve been able to tell that I was super stressed out by that call, because he called me immediately back and told me the biggest news. WE GOT IN. I remember being so relieved and then like “Wow, we know exactly what we’re going to be over the next few years!” It was so terrifying, but so relieving to know that it was going to be okay. I was so grateful that I was able to get those shoots and meet so many incredible people.
We celebrated by walking around downtown Knoxville and eating food at the most delicious place. I also then tried southern fried chicken for the first time and it was incredible. The place where we went had ribs that literally fell off the bone. It was probably the best choice we could have ever made to celebrate our entrance into Knoxville.
Some of the things that I learned about Knoxville were kind of awesome. First off, Knoxville has all of the amazing stores that we don’t really get in Rexburg, so they have Trader Joe’s, Target, and all of the great big stores that I have been missing since living in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. If you drive 10 or 15 minutes away from Knoxville, you’re in a gorgeous lush forest, and we’re only 45 minutes away from the Smoky mountains and blue ridge, and of course Tanner’s favorite, Dollywood.
I definitely see such a great environment of southern hospitality, general kindness, and amazing southern accents. I see Adelaide really loving it as she enters into preschool and possibly kindergarten here, and I feel like this is such a great place to raise a family. I’m so excited to be able to call Knoxville our home for the next few years if not forever. We’ll be in Knoxville starting in September. We have a full wedding season before that all throughout Jackson Hole and Rexburg.
We will be traveling internationally this year and will also be traveling to so many places across the West Coast. I’m starting to assemble a destination list of all the spots I want to hit before we end up moving to Knoxville.
After that, I have so many spots and people I want to work with once I get to the East Coast. We are going to be living so far away from family, and that’s terrifying, but if my experience there is anything like the experience of when we came to Knoxville for the first time, I know it’s going to be one that is surrounded by future friends and people that will feel like family. I’m so excited to give my heart to Knoxville and be able to photograph such incredible locations and weddings.
Lookout Knoxville the Reese family is coming at ya!
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Look for the Light Photo and Video is a Wedding and Elopement Photographer and Videographer Team, located in East Tennessee. They service Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville. They specialize in epic elopements, traditional southern weddings, engagement sessions, and videography in all of the above.
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