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Life & Work with Erica Carlberg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Carlberg.

Hi Erica, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’ve grown up with cameras all around, from my dad making home videos and trying to capture every serve at a volleyball tournament, to grandma catching that moment we opened our stockings on Christmas morning. I was always curious about the camera, but I never imagined I would be looking through the lens professionally. Event planning however, that was the dream occupation. After seeing the movie, The Wedding Planner starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, I dreamed of living a life like “Mary”. Being able to help someone plan and execute, problem solve, and more and all to make sure one of the most memorable days of someone’s life goes off with only one hitch sounded like my own dream and fairytale.

In 2014 I started working for Chick-fil-A. I worked at the local franchise for 7 years, and within the first two years I worked my way up from the role of team member to the role of Director. I played many different Director roles in my time there, but my favorite of all was as the Marketing Director. The Marketing at a Chick-fil-A franchise is not like most marketing practices you may be familiar with. Each franchise focuses on creating a strong brand relationship with their local market and region. To me this meant that I could get involved in local events that matched our company purpose, plan and create community experiences and events, it meant jumping all in and unloading my extrovert and networking skills like my life depended on it. I spent two years in this role, from 2017-2019, which was my longest-lasting role with the company. I exercised and opened the door to my photography as well as my passion for event planning. Once I had moved onto a new role with the franchise as Drive-Thru Director I desperately missed the ability to flex those skills. I knew that event planning and photography were what I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, so I departed from the company and ventured to Dallas Texas in the fall of 2020.

In the meantime, beginning in 2017 I decided to start serving on the photography and social media team at Paradigm, a young adults ministry in Lee’s Summit. It was there that I was trained by a great photographer Lauren Boley, the creator and sole proprietor of LaLa Lensart, and brought to love the view from the lens of my camera. As I began to develop my photography skills and grow my love for the picture, I began the process of building my portfolio outside of the ministry. My friends and their families loved the idea of free photos, and any weddings or showers I was asked to help with I brought my camera.

I strongly believe that every picture carries a story, and every event creates a memory. That’s what I love about photography and event planning. So, I started my photography business in 2018. Then in May of 2020 I started an online course with NYIAD, New York Institute for Art and Design, to hone my event coordinator skills and add some tools to my repertoire. I knew that event planning and photography were what I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, so I departed from Chick-fil-A and ventured to Dallas Texas in the fall of 2020 to pursue my dreams.

While in Dallas I was taught under the great Laura Mayfield with Mayfield Events. I had the pleasure to work with her and the brilliant team at Mayfield Events. The Wedding Planner dream was coming true. The golden gates were opened, and I was walking into the glamorous world of high-end wedding planning and design.

Come fall of 2021 the opportunity arose for me to return home and continue building my resume as lead event coordinator at a beautiful and unique venue in Blue Springs Missouri. I just couldn’t say no! So I packed my bags and returned home to Kansas City. Now, I am working full time with Colonial Gardens as the Event Coordinator on staff as well as with Hitched in KC event planning all while building the reputation and portfolio of Erica Carlberg Photography.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s not easy to build up a photography company while also maintaining a full-time job, part-time job, and school. There have been many challenges such as time management, marketing, finances, social intimidation, and at times self-doubt. One of the greatest experiences and memories I have is when I was in Dallas. I went with Laura to the Crescent Court Hotel in Uptown for a venue tour and a band showcase with a client of ours. The Crescent hotel is gorgeous! I felt like I had just walked into a world where I did not fit in. Laura, our clients, the venue staff, and even the guests in the lobby of this hotel were dressed so elegantly. Everybody else was in high dollar brand-name clothing and they all walked and held themselves with this sense of confidence and importance. I had never been exposed to this kind of crowd as an equal. That’s what was intimidating to me. So, between the tour and the showcase Laura and I went out to dinner close by. She had asked me many questions and we spent the time getting to know each other better. As Laura shared with me her story and that she hadn’t grown up wealthy or had any extravagant lifestyle her whole life I realized, I’m not that different from her. She had a passion and a desire, and she went after it and worked to reach her goals. That’s simply what I was doing and what I was going to continue to do.

Continuing to set annual goals, plan and execute all that I need to do to reach those. That is what I want and will continue to do to keep on the pursuit of my future in the event planning and photography world.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?

My work is my passion, and to me it’s my dream. As far as event planning goes, working with Colonial Gardens and Hitched in KC is just a start. I’ve helped with many friends’ weddings; in fact, I single handedly planned my sister’s wedding back in 2019. On the other hand, Erica Carlberg Photography, is back in KC and is ready to help create and capture your memories with your loved ones.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
I definitely did not get here on my own. My story includes a lot of influential people. So let me start at the beginning, Lance Spencer the Operator of the Chick-fil-A I started at as well as Kevin Holman. These two taught me the importance of innovation, perseverance, leadership, integrity, ownership, and care. My friend Lauren Boley who showed me so many of the ins and outs of photography during my time serving at Paradigm. Laura Mayfield and her team at Mayfield Events. Without that opportunity and experience in a world of extravagance I would not be where I am today. My grandma Ann, who just recently passed in 2019, who had an admiration for photography. For her, it was only a hobby, but she would collect lenses, slides, and other attachments from all over the world during her extensive travels around the world. She shared and left me her photography equipment to help me pursue my creativity. My dad also gets a lot of credit as he was always holding a camera at sporting events and holidays. He more than anyone in my life understands the importance and value of creating and capturing memories.

Pricing:

  • Portrait & Family Sessions: $60-$175
  • Branding: $250-$500
  • Weddings: $1200-$3500

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Erica Carlberg Photography.

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