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I Was a Homeless Teen Who Became an Award-Winning Wedding Photog


My name is Carsten Schertzer, and I’m a wedding photographer. My life right now is spent hopping from one wedding venue to the next, but it wasn’t always that way…

I picked up my first camera when I was 11 years old. I was completely enamored by the skateboarding culture and industry photographers at the time. I dreamed of photographing skateboarding for a living and tried relentlessly to make it in the skateboarding industry.

By the time I was 16, I dropped out of high school and was living on the streets of southern California. I was sleeping in public parks and friends’ couches but still pursuing my dream of being a skateboard photographer.

A self-portrait

At 18 years old, and still not a professional skate photographer, I decided it was time for a change, I decided to pack my camera bag and drive to San Francisco and become a wedding photographer.

I spent weeks living out of a car and using Starbucks as my office. Slowly, using my skateboarding portfolio as my only reference, I was able to start booking clients, eventually turning weddings into my full-time job.

Today, I am 24 years old. I have traveled to 12 countries on 4 continents, all because of wedding photography.

I am so proud to say that I have the greatest job I could have ever imagined — one that’s even better than shooting skateboarding for a living!

About the author: Carsten Schertzer is a wedding photographer based in Los Angeles who offers his services as Ilumina Studios. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Schertzer’s work has won awards with Fearless Photographers, the Wedding Photo journalists Association (WPJA), Wedisson Awards, and SLR Lounge Awards. He is also an ambassador for MagMod flash modifiers. You can find more of Schertzer’s work on his website and Instagram.