Alumni’s passion is a dream career

Sabrina Hounshell

University of Kentucky alum (’12) Sabrina Hounshell has always been known for her spontaneity and plans for the next big adventure.  She loved sharing her ideas and career plans with her parents, whether it was deep sea fishing off the coast of Australia, photographing the African jungle, or announcing that she would study abroad and was leaving in mere weeks.

     Hounshell’s parents never knew if their daughter was actually going to follow through with her plans, and their canned response became “Seriously, Sabrina? Really?” The nickname “Seriously Sabrina” stuck and even spread among her friends.  Today, just one year after graduating from UK, “Seriously Sabrina” is a legally recognized enterprise named for the 24-year-old dynamo who made a career out of her passion for travel and photography.

     When Hounshell came to UK in 2007, she was an agriculture communications student and although she changed her major several times, and graduated with a degree in integrated strategic communication (ISC), she always knew she wanted to be a photographer.

     “In high school, I pursued leadership opportunities and traveled as a member of the 4-H organization, which is most well-known for its agriculture background. I did many photography contests, taught photography classes at 4-H summer camp, and always loved documenting my life since I got my first digital camera at age 14.”

      Documenting life became a theme in her photography that followed Hounshell throughout her academic career at UK.  She enrolled in darkroom photography classes and wanted to work for the Kernel, but the editor turned her down because she didn’t own a professional camera. After months of convincing her parents to help her buy a camera, she went back to the Kernel and started shooting assignments.

     Hounshell attended the Kernel’s photography workshop called Picture Kentucky, where she worked with seasoned photojournalists on how to tell a story with images in an interesting way. After months of shooting as a self-described fledgling photographer, her first published photo was taken at Greek Sing in 2008.  Hounshell’s interests also spread outside the Kernel. She was a member of the Student Activities Board and the K Book Editorial Board; she participated in Alternative Service Breaks, and was a Dance Blue coordinator.

photograhy by sabrinia hounshell

     In 2009, Hounshell decided to leave the Kernel to study abroad and spend the next semester in the United Kingdom. It was here that she fell in love with travel photography and knew that whatever avenue of photography she took, travel was a non-negotiable must.

     When Hounshell returned to the states and resumed her studies at UK, her photographs from the 2010 Dance Blue marathon had caught the eye of Kelley Bozeman, director of Marketing at UK, who offered her a job as photographer for UK Public Relations and Marketing, which Hounshell did from February 2010 until she graduated in May 2012.

     “I took photos of everything from award ceremonies and receptions to being the only photographer in the room when Bill Clinton came to UK,” Hounshell said.  “I photographed Homecoming, huge concerts and even the press conference when the Cats came back to Rupp with their National Championship win. It was an absolutely amazing experience, but I knew deep down that my real passion for photography wasn’t in documenting events.”

       She had been following wedding blogs for years and developed a huge interest in the creativity, angles and editing techniques that wedding photographers were using in California. After booking a few weddings and attending photography workshops across the country, Hounshell traveled to Louisiana, California, Las Vegas and Chicago to learn from photographers she admired.

     “I was hooked. Portrait and wedding photography had stolen my heart,” Hounshell said. “I grew up with a lot of European influence from my mother, who’s German, and the inside of my childhood home is seriously decorated like a castle, complete with tin knights, stained glass windows, a spiral staircase, tapestries and medieval touches. I was fascinated by fairytales. I began combining the skills I was learning from the photography workshops with whimsical, fairy tale inspired shoots and editing style. My biggest influences for my work come from wedding photographers in Southern California, fairy tales, and the drive to document a day in the most beautiful and complete way that I possibly can. I fell in love not only with weddings, but as a hopeless romantic, I was in love with love. As I shot more weddings the light bulb went off — dream job: destination wedding photographer. I would get to document love, get paid to travel and be doing something I love in the process. I now had a goal.”

     In April 2012, just weeks before graduation, Hounshell experienced the tragic loss of her only sister, which left her feeling depressed.  Rather than allowing it to derail her, she used her sadness as a fuel to fire her dreams and in the summer of 2012 Seriously Sabrina Photography became an LLC (limited liability company).

wedding photography by sabrina hounshell

     “While working another job, I used free time and knowledge I gained while earning my ISC degree to advertise and market myself through social media to begin booking clients,” Hounshell said. “By January 2013 I had started booking enough weddings and getting enough inquiries that I was able to quit my day job to be a full-time photographer. I am beyond proud and privileged to be photographing 30 weddings and countless other portrait sessions in 2013. My jobs are taking me coast to coast in the United States, to Vancouver Island in Canada and I am photographing a wedding this summer in Austria.”

     Hounshell’s work has caught the attention of many blogs and publishers, including Kentucky Bride Magazine and blogs such as Style Me Pretty, Poptastic Bride, Offbeat Families, Evoking You, Borrowed and Blue, Trendy Bride, DIY Bride, WedLoft, and Fab You Bliss. Last month, Hounshell opened her photography studio, a space that she uses to hold workshops for amateur and seasoned photographers on improving their photography skills, building their portfolios, and improving their businesses.  She also hosted her first wedding photographer workshop this past April.

     “I am living and thriving in a creative profession. I’m able to pay my bills, travel, create, and feel fulfilled on a daily basis,” Hounshell said. “I created a successful business in less than a year and am sharing the experience with so many incredible people who push me to be better every day. My success is largely based on the success of those who surround me, their success is my success. I am living the dream and rising with my friends; what better success is there than that?”

By Ann Blackford, University of Kentucky News,


Published by on May 2013. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette NewsWire/AAPNW, Bugle Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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