Going Viral … a case study

Photo by Karen Rainer

Karen, a photographer who does portraits and weddings, wasn’t ready for it. She’d just been rejected by a number big-name blogs for a wedding shoot that she themed after This is Us.

Kari (her childhood nickname) posted on Facebook:

“Guys I have never been more excited or proud about a shoot in my life, and I waited impatiently for weeks just to have it rejected by a few big name wedding blogs.
So, rather than keep submitting and becoming a slave to the blogs, I decided screw it, I am excited to share it so I will just to blog it myself!
I don’t work for badges from blogs, I work for my amazing clients and friends and I want you to see this because I am proud of it! I have to remind myself that just because a few editors passed on this doesn’t devalue my hard work and it shouldn’t effect my confidence.
So, don’t be discouraged if you get rejected in any area of life. Refocus your energy on what matters instead!
Also I hope you love This Is Us as much as me!
HUGE shoutout to all the vendors who made this shoot possible and Emily & Peter for being such a freaking adorable Jack & Rebecca “

She immediately got a huge reaction from all her Facebook friends, and the moment I saw it, I knew it was going to be successful but I had no idea how just quickly it would take off.

The next morning Mandy Moore included in it in her Instagram story and shortly thereafter a Buzzfeed article appeared written by Kristin Harris. Just hours later articles appeared from E! , Cosmo, Hot 101.9, Womanista, Gossip Bucket. The day after it just kept coming, Redbook Magazine, Bride, Hello Giggles, The Knot News, Huff Post, Entertainment Weekly….

Her reaction was predictable “I can’t BREATHE GUYS. Send help.”

No doubt the panic attack induced by having no idea that her success would be this big. It’s like the feeling a driver of a Dodge Viper has the first time they mash the accelerator all the way to the floor: they expect to go fast, but have no idea just HOW fast and how completely out of their control it is.

It’s a dream many entrepreneurs have, getting that one idea, story, product and boom it goes viral. Karen’s story is right out of one of Grimm’s fairy tales. She came to photography as a hobby. Karen was a grade school teacher. Her husband, Josh, is a nurse who often works the night shift. I know he’s on the nightshift ’cause the day is spent on long Facebook discussions on opposite sides of the political topic at hand. He speaks his mind freely, and has the courage of his convictions. When he wasn’t working and looking after his 2 handsome sons, he found time to rebuild their kitchen. He’ll have his school debt paid off in just enough time to take on his son’s tuitions. Karen’s flight of fancy is most definitely made possible by the Gibraltar-like launch pad that Josh provides. But it’s her fairy tale wings that will take her to the heights she is headed for. Oh I forgot to mention, she is drop-dead gorgeous. In her wedding dress, she would have rivaled any of the top fashion or wedding mags’ covers.

When she stopped teaching to raise her 2 sons, her photography got serious. She took some classes, honed her digital editing skills, and built her portfolio starting with friends and acquaintances then expanded by word-of-mouth. She built her website just about a year ago with a template and full of her own style.

Karen has the magic. Her shots are lyrical compositions brimming with light whose subjects exude the emotion that only come from being very connected with a photographer who is charming, simpatico and sweet.

Photo by Karen Rainer

She’s now a woman who has it all: her own business, two adorable sons and a rock-solid supportive husband. And she knows where the balance is: even on the day when everything was going viral, she unplugged because it was her oldest son’s sixth birthday.

The Rainer Family- Photo by Karen Rainer

I’ve always wanted to meet a celebrity and ask them this question “What was it like just before your career took off?” Since I’ve known Karen all her life, in a way I got my wish. She was a shy quiet girl, with a pretty face framed by golden cherubic curls. Whether this is just the 15 minutes of fame that we are all promised, or just the beginning of a steep climb to a stratospheric career, I’ll always remember her undaunted demeanor in the face of rejection, coupled by work done full of love. I don’t know how many people will be inspired by Karen’s example, but I know at least Juan.

All photos by Karen Rainer.