Annie Steele Photography » Wedding Photography, Chicago, Illinois

A College Scholarship and WHY Presentation Matters

Perhaps, one the most valuable lessons I ever learned in life was in college.  And by college I mean, that time period in my life.  Not in a classroom.

I was a sophomore and had just changed my major from Business to Radiology.  I know exactly what you are thinking (my parents shared your same feelings with added panic), but these vital years of discovery are a time to explore anything you want to be.  In my defense, it was the only time I changed my major and proved to be the right decision for me.  The semester had just begun and like every other broke college kid, I needed extra income.  Waitressing part time was good and all, but it wasn’t enough extra cash to eat out more and add to my freshman 15(lb).  I started looking for scholarships and came across several that I qualified for based on my major.  I spent multiple hours applying, writing as properly as possible, while trying to sound all knowledgable on the ways of the world in my answers.  One day after a full day of class, I came home to my college apartment and saw a letter addressed to me.  I recognized the Fire Department and foundation name on the return address label and excitedly opened.  It was a letter congratulating me on a $500 scholarship I won.  I can’t explain the excitement I felt winning, and at 19 years old, that was the most amount of promised money I had ever dreamt of having.  The letter gave me specific instructions on when to show up to the fire department in order to accept the check.

A week later, nervously I showed up to the Dekalb Fire Department in a nice black skirt, ironed blouse and my hair neatly curled.  I was honored to have recieved a scholarship for allied health students in memory of a fire fighter.  I was greeted by a handful of very handsome on-duty firefighters.  They all shook my hand and congratulated me.  The chief was the last to walk into the fire truck garage and it was then he congratulatied me and told me why I had won.  He explained there were several applicants, but mine stood out from the rest.  He said my essay was nice and all, but the fact I had put it together in a bound presentation book with a cover page is why I had won.  I HAD SPENT LESS THAN FIFTY CENTS ON A THREE HOLE PUNCH FLIMSY PRESENTATION BINDER AND ADDED A TITLE PAGE WHICH INCLUDED MY NAME, DATE, AND SCHOLARSHIP I WAS APPLYING FOR.  He explained the dozens of candidates all submitted nice essays, but my presentation stood out above the rest.  Every other scholarship I had applied for and never won, my presentation was the exact same.  For whatever reason, presentation was key to this man.

This message has resonated with me since that day I stood next to those fire fighters and learned one of the most important lessons in my life.  At first, I felt awful that it wasn’t my neatly typed essay on how I plan to give back to my community as an allied health professional.  I quickly changed my mind, and realized how you present something will always be remembered.

Fast forward several years later to my love of photography and my business.  After photographing an engagement/portrait/family/wedding session, I want to hand my clients something that I’m proud of.  Something with a beautiful bow that makes them feel just as special as they did on their memorable day.  I want them to be reminded why they hired me and when scrolling through the pictures, they remember all the joy, love and laughter.  At the end of the day, if I make my client (that has become my friend) happy, I will be reassured this business is for me.

Announcing, Annie Steele Photography Wedding Packages!  This is a recent wedding package I sent out to a wonderful bride and groom I photographed in September.  Oh yes…I am a prompt editor and deliverer of pretty little packages…



All edited, high-res (300dpi) digital images are on a pretty little portable flash drive for you to SHARE, PRINT, or to make Christmas Cards from (and send me one because you know how much I love receiving Christmas Cards:)

What is this you wonder?  My absolute favorite Chicago sweet treat!!!

I decided to not do DVDs anymore.  There are USB drives on all computers and lap tops (not all have DVD drives) and I opted for these because they are so compact, magnetic, durable and BEAUTIFUL!

These was a very large investment, and I’m not going to lie, the embossed on the back sealed the deal.

A hand written THANK YOU card is the best investment for any business

This weekend, my lovely bride that just received her ASP Wedding Package wrote a lovely message on our Facebook page.  The message made my day and for this, reminded me that presentation will always matter.  Of course it will always be important on what’s on the inside.  However,  if you deliver something wrapped in a pretty bow, with a dash of genuine, handwritten love…I promise you, the gift will be much sweeter and make a difference.


“I got a beautiful wedding package today!! Let me begin by addressing those who are “likers” of Annie’s page, you are all geniuses, not only for liking amazing work, but for believing in a beautiful person. I could not have asked for a sweeter, more professional, funny, and all around in the moment photographer. Annie, what you created for us is more than we ever could have imagined…you made our day sweeter and I cannot thank you enough. If you didn’t consider Annie before, I hope you will now, because I can assure you, it will be the 2nd best decision you make (the first of course being that you are marrying your best friend!) from the bottom of our hearts, thank you again!!”

-Love, Jose + Amber 



Happy Monday, friends!


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