The Day My Life Changed – My Journey To Adventure Wedding Photography

Adventure weddings have become the thing that many photographers would kill to shoot. A beautiful couple and some incredible scenery is an Instagram winner. Adventure wedding photography is coming in to fashion, and I’m so excited about it. But for me it’s so much more than just about getting pretty images on a mountain that will make me Insta-famous. It’s something that is a part of who I am and what I love, something that’s shaped my life as I know it now.

My Journey To The Mountains & Adventure Wedding Photography

I’ve told the story many times about how I first left the UK to work a winter season in the Alps, but I don’t usually go much further back than that. But my journey to the mountains started much earlier than that, before I even knew I was on it.

Adventure Wedding Photographer Cat Ekkelboom-White by Alice Lodge Photography
Picture by Alice Lodge Photography

How It All Started

I graduated university with a music degree in 2006, full of hopes and dreams of changing the world and finding creative fulfilment working in the arts. After a short-term position at a local theatre, I landed my dream job at a big UK theatre which featured to a lot of touring West End shows. I had the dream job and I felt like now I was expected to start settling down to a career, find a partner and all of that. The pressure I had put on myself to do these things started to take it’s toll and I became pretty depressed. And living in a city where I didn’t know many people, I felt pretty darn low. But of course I never talked about it, because I had my dream job right and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. So I bottled it up and felt worse and worse.

At the theatre they offered a personal development fund as one of the employee perks. Some of my colleagues used it for gym memberships or dance classes with the resident dance company. For my 15th birthday I had tried to learn snowboarding on my local dry ski slope, and despite my desire to be awesome at it, my ambition outweighed my ability and well, I sucked! And after some severely bruised knees, I decided it wasn’t for me. Seven years later, with an indoor ski slope a short drive away and the funds to take a course, I decided to give snowboarding another go. I booked an intensive 1-day course, and that was the day my life changed.

The second time around, things went so much better. I was actually snowboarding and by the end of the day I was linking turns, which was an incredible feeling. I left feeling on top of the world, and within a month I’d bought myself my own snowboard and I was going to ride at the snowdome 1-2 times a week. I even got a second job there so I could ride for free. And slowly, snowboarding became so much more than just a hobby. It was my life. It gave me the confidence to chat with people I didn’t know and to go holiday to the Alps by myself. On that holiday I made new friends (one of whom I hit the slopes with again last winter) and I felt like I’d found my place in the world.

Cat Ekkelboom-White snowboard instructor

Nobody likes a holiday to end, but on this trip I was devastated to return back to my “normal life in the city”. It wasn’t long before I started thinking about how a couple of weeks a year was never going to be enough, and before I knew it, I’d got myself a job as a chalet girl and I was going back to the Alps, this time for the whole winter season. That season, I worked hard and I spent as much time as I could on the mountain. As spring rolled in that feeling hit me again. I wasn’t ready to go home. It actually makes me quite emotional to think about it now, but I think that even then I knew that I already was home. It wasn’t the home I grew up in, or the home where my family were. But it was the place that I felt the most alive and yet at the most at peace.

Because nobody wants to be a chalet girl more than once, I went and trained to be a snowboard instructor in New Zealand during the southern winter and newly qualified, I knew exactly where I wanted to head back to – Austria. And it’s this journey that eventually led me to a the ski resort of Mayrhofen where I’d meet the other reason that the Alps would continue to be my home. Ten years have now passed since my first winter in the Alps, and no matter where I go in the world, I always look forward to coming home again. Living in the Alps is like living in nature’s most incredible playground and every moment possible, I’m out exploring.

Adventure wedding photography hiking in Austria by Wild Connections Photography

Becoming An Adventure Wedding Photographer

I didn’t intentionally set out to be an adventure wedding photographer. After our wedding I fell in love with photography and weddings, and I decided to follow that path to see where it might lead. Of course, for someone who is more at home in ski gear and a beanie, I always felt like I didn’t quite fit in to the world of weddings as I knew it. After all, I got laughed at when I asked if I could include our skis in our own wedding photos (we had a summer wedding so that’s kinda understandable) but I did it anyway. Because mountain life is just a massive part of who I am, and becoming involved in weddings hasn’t changed that.

When I started out, I didn’t have many weddings to photograph so I blogged about the things I was doing in my free time; skiing and hiking and climbing. I did everything in English because my German was rubbish, and couples who shared my love of the mountains and for adventure started to find me. They came to me, not because my photography was the best, but because we connected through our love for the mountains, for adventure and doing things that people would say was crazy! Because that’s quite simply just who we are.

It’s been an incredible journey, one with ups and downs. And it’s not over yet 😉

Skiing wedding photographer in Kitzbühel - Wild Connections Photography

Faroe Islands Wedding Photographer Cat Ekkelboom-White from Wild Connections Photography in the Faroe Islands in Winter

Want to know more about working with me?

Adventure Wedding Photography
Adventure Sessions

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