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Conversations with Colette Waters

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colette Waters.

Hi Colette, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
To go back and start from the beginning, when I first walked out of my small-town high school graduation toward the excitement of college, I knew I wanted a career where I could create. I craved creativity, freedom with my time, and the opportunity to help other people. I’ve always loved to write and read, so I thought I’d pursue an English degree. On a whim, I added an Introduction to Photography class to my schedule, and to put it simply, I fell in love. I slowly learned the technical side of things, but in that first class I loved being creative with the assignments and dreaming up photoshoot ideas. While at Columbia College, I finally decided to major in photography and graphic design and minor in business with the end goal of owning a photography business.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
One of the biggest struggles with owning my business was when I moved to a different city and had to meet new clients. The summer after I graduated from college, my high school sweetheart Michael and I got married. He was finishing school in Oklahoma, so I moved there for us to start our married life together. After being long-distance for years, I was excited to finally live together, but as an introvert who was just starting her own business, I definitely struggled with booking photoshoots that first year.

After Michael graduated, we moved to an apartment in Overland Park, KS, where I got a part-time job as the Photo and Marketing Specialist at Hoffman International Model and Talent Agency. The way the job came to me was such a God moment in my life. The timing worked out perfectly. I was interested in fashion and had a job where I used my graphic design and photography knowledge. I also had the flexibility to book photoshoots when I wasn’t working in the office. Perhaps the most important part though was meeting new people every week while being in the office which opened doors for me. I soon began photographing models, either for their portfolios or for their senior or family portraits. Later we moved to our first house in Olathe, KS (where we lived for several years), and at the beginning of 2021, we moved to Liberty, MO. Moving around the Kansas City area has not been as big of a shock as moving to Oklahoma all those years ago, but changing neighborhoods isn’t the easiest thing in the world when you’ve built relationships with clients who are in your same community.

Personally, the biggest struggle of my life was the journey to becoming a mom. Michael and I have three loved and missed babies in Heaven. I had two miscarriages in 2017 and in October 2018, our precious son Bennett Oliver was stillborn.

Back in January 2018, I had the idea to style and shoot a winter-themed photo shoot. As I was preparing for the shoot, I was reminded of what a stranger said to me in May 2017, a few weeks after my first miscarriage. He said God showed him I was in a dark place—a season of winter—but that he saw me walking in fields of flowers. God saw me and my pain, and spring WAS coming. I wanted to symbolize the beginning stages of the end of winter and start of spring in the photographs. So I booked a model, texted my friend and hair and makeup artist Michele Taylor, and we took photos with flowers in the snow to represent those first hopeful stages of spring coming even in the midst of a cold season.

After we lost our Bennett, I started taking similar self-portraits to help me process my grief, even incorporating dried flowers that were given to us when we lost Bennett. Taking these photos, and writing about Bennett, was therapeutic to me. I soon felt God whisper in my ear that I should offer these types of photos for other women as well. Seasons of Hope photoshoots were born.

Seasons of Hope photoshoots honor babies in Heaven and the strong women who have experienced heartbreak whether from the loss of a child or the emptiness caused by infertility. I want to help validate women’s feelings, offer them a platform to tell their story, and give them a tangible photograph to honor their children, grief, and hope. Similar to during my first photography course where I loved dreaming up creative photoshoot ideas, I talk with the women about their experiences and then create a photoshoot concept specifically for their story.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
With my background in the fashion world, I allow everyone the opportunity to have a personalized and creative photoshoot experience. I book professional hair and makeup services, help style your outfits and have a Client Dress Closet for the ladies. We can shoot in my studio in Liberty or outside anywhere in the Kansas City area. I really enjoy making the photography experience relaxing and special.

Growing up, my mom was always mindful to take photographs and then print them out in albums for me and my sisters. I think part of my sentimental personality stemmed from this practice growing up, and thus, I love documenting all stages of life. Lately, I am focusing a lot on photographing motherhood—whether their family is complete here on Earth, they are awaiting the arrival of a new baby, they have lost a child, or are yearning to add another baby to the family. I also enjoy making the moment even more memorialized by placing the right words alongside photographs. I love it when photography and writing come together.

What I was most proud of?
I am most proud of my family which includes my precious daughter Pepper who was born in 2020, honoring my beloved son Bennett with photographs and words, helping women by providing Seasons of Hope photoshoots, and shooting portraits for so many amazing people over the years that they can cherish for the rest of their lives.

How do you define success?
To me, success is having inner joy in my day-to-day life.

Pricing:

  • Head Shot Session $100
  • Miniature Session $300
  • Signature Session $600
  • Full Experience Session $900
  • Seasons of Hope Sessions are gifted.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Colette Waters Photography

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