My Story My Voice - Chelsy Weisz


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Chelsy Weisz

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Chelsy Weisz

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Hello! I' wedding photographer and educator in western North Dakota.  I am so thrilled to see you here on the blog!  Grab some coffee and dig into some wedding planning tips, business hacks, our farmhouse renovations, as well as  some behind the scenes at #chelsywieszphotography

more about Chelsy


My Story My Voice

How heart surgeries made me a better wife, mom and photographer

I started my photography business in 2013, and for the first couple of years photographed families before transitioning to seniors for a couple of years before really finding my love and passion for wedding photography.  I have been shooting weddings exclusively for 4 years now. 
When I graduated high school I wrote in the yearbook I wanted to be a photographer.  I really have no idea why I choose that, we didn’t have a school paper I didn’t work on the yearbook, but something about the idea of owning my own business, and getting to be creative sounded like a good idea.  

The following fall I headed off to college to prose a degree in Business I figured this way I could learn the business side of things and if the photography thing didn’t work out I had something to fall back on. Honestly though one of the only reasons I went to college was so I could college rodeo. I had rodeoed all through high school and was actually the North Dakota High School Rodeo Queen in 2009. 

Happily Ever After?

In the winter of 2011, I got pregnant with our daughter Skyler so I only ended up completing two years of college.  God certainly had bigger and better plans for my life.  Justin and I got married in the fall of 2012 shortly after Sky was born.  I started my photography business the next year.  
In summer 2016 my husband Justin was scheduled for a heart valve replacement surgery.  He has known since he was just 18 months old that he would need surgery.  Surgery well, we actually found out I was pregnant with Grayson the night before his surgery.  
START HERE FOR RE RECORD In December of 2016 Justin started to get sick. We figured it was just a cold but it got serious fast and we ended up back in his surgeon’s office being told his new mechanical valve was infected and had de-histed and he would be going into surgery the next morning just 8 days before Christmas.  

Alone and Scared

That was a pretty hard and scary night sitting in his hospital room just the two of us.   Surgery the next morning went okay, there didn’t seem to be any complications. He went home with a pic line and I hooked up his home infusion med balls three times a day for 6 weeks. 
After 6 weeks we made the 6-hour drive back to his surgeon’s office for his post-op checkup.  Something got a little messed up with his scheduling so we saw his surgeon before they did his echo, but his blood work looked good so she signed off on his return to work papers and we headed off to Montana to a bull sale the next day.  

Now I thought we lived in the middle of nowhere but this bull sale was really the middle of nowhere.  There was no service at the ranch so we missed the call from his surgeon.  She left a voicemail on his phone telling us that this second valve was leaking and she was sending us on to the Mayo Clinic.  Mayo called us the next day and got us set up for an appointment the following week.  Justin, his mom Debbie, our daughter Skyler, and my 33-week baby bump made the 16-hour drive to Rochester, MN.  

Mayo Clinic

Justin and I walked into the echo appointment not sure what to expect.  About halfway through the scan, a doctor walked in and the atmosphere of the room completely changed.  She asked for a few extra images and then proceeded to tell us it was much worse then we had thought.  The valve was hanging on by a thread and we needed to go downstairs and get on the next patient shuttle and head to St Mary’s Hospital.  
We spent the next week in a cramped hospital room as a parade of Doctors, PA’s, and Different teams came in to review his history, administer tests, conduct scans, all to create a plan of action for what would be his 3 mechanical valve replacement in 8 months. After 13 hours of surgery, I got hold Justin’s hand in the ICU. We ended up staying in the ICU a bit longer then we had hoped as we waited for swelling to go down and prayed for Justin’s heart to start beating on its own.  A temporary pacemaker was the only thing keeping him alive for about 7 days until doctors made the call to have a permanent pacemaker placed.  

After he was discharged we made the two day drive home. We were only home for a day before we headed into labor and delivery to welcome Grayson into the world.  I looked pretty funny sitting in my hospital bed just hours after delivering Grayson hooking up Justin’s pic line up to his antibiotics. 

The following January less than a year after his 3rd heart surgery we were back at Mayo once again this time the infection was eating away at his sternum and doctors actually ended up removing his entire sternum.  They opted not to replace it with anything since all foreign objects in the body are essentially magnets for infection especially for Justin! 
So what does this crazy story have to do with my photography business and starting this podcast?  Well, thanks to my systems and workflows was able to continue to deliver images, book weddings, and reply to inquiries quickly and efficiently with a little toll on me, and my family.  I’m also completely blessed to have had the career I had at the time.  By being my own boss I was able to work when I needed to and take as much time off as I needed to care for my husband and our new baby. 

My Mission

My photography income helped to pay hospital bills and provided me with some space from all that was going on.  I know if I hadn’t had defined workflows, and systems set up Its likely I would have had to shut the doors on something that I find so much joy, and freedom from, and probably would have to of picked up a 9-5 job that would end up sucking my soul! 
We live at such an amazing time in the world where we can create careers that allow us to be creative, and flexible with our schedules, while still being able to contribute to the household income in big ways, or even be primary breadwinner! 

But you have to be wise about it, and treat it like a business because friend, it is a business, a business capable of so many amazing opportunities and possibilities! 

That’s why it has become my goal to help other photographers to build solid businesses that are profitable, purposeful and joyful, without sacrificing your time with family and friends. 

How heart surgeries made me a better wife, mom and photographer

Honestly, these were just the highlights of our heart surgery story I shared an 8 part series on my blog sharing our story in its entirety which I will link in the show notes if you are interested in reading the entire story of how my marriage and faith were tested during this two-year storm. 
Thank you so much for tuning into the very first episode of the Wise photographer podcast! Be sure and check out the next two episodes which are already qued up and waiting for you!  
I’ll see you in the next episode! 

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I'm chelsy


I'm Chelsy a small town farmwife from western North Dakota. I built an elegant wedding photography business in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a camera and a google search bar. When my husband's one heart surgery turned in to a three-year-long battle, it turned everything on its head. I vowed to help other small business owners put systems into place to ensure the business can still run even if you have to step away.

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