Cassie Madden Brandl is a professional wedding photographer, podcast host and realtor living in Sheridan, Wyoming. She initially wanted to major in English but finally came to terms with the fact that she loved photography and wanted to make it a career. While she didn’t get into the program at ASU, she did find a job under a photographer in Scottsdale and worked hard until she began shooting her own weddings. Now she does nearly 33 a year, traveling all over to gorgeous places to capture people’s happiness. Read on to learn some of the difficult lessons she’s learned along the way, her favorite podcasts, business books and online learning platforms and her favorite place she’s traveled!
- Name: Cassie Madden Brandl
- Location: Sheridan, WY
- Role: Professional photographer, podcast host and realtor
- Next Thing She’s Going to Learn: Build, run and market a wedding venue & invest + flip more real estate
- Go-To Learning Resource: Podcasts, business books and online learning platform Creative Live
- Favorite Place in Sheridan, WY: the river land on my family’s property in south eastern Wyoming
- Find Out More: www.cassiemadden.com | https://www.instagram.com/howtoadultpod/
Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.
Because my mom was an amateur photographer, we were always brought up to have a camera wherever we were going. Eventually on a family vacation (I believe I was 13), I was old enough to keep the Kodak safe and from then on, I was always the one you’d come to if you wanted a photo taken. From there, I started entering photos in the local fair competitions and eventually took a few classes once I got to college. Sadly, our high school didn’t have any photography programs, which I truly regret! I really think an extra 4 years of early education could have gotten me to where I am now much more quickly.
I went to college as an English major with the intention of either working as an editor in a publishing house or, you guessed it, becoming an English teacher. I finally admitted to myself that I wanted to be anything BUT a teacher, that I loved photography and it was a possible career – even though there weren’t as many photographers back in 2011, like there are now. It was a little scarier of a transition, because online education definitely wasn’t what it is now! I switched my major to fine art photography at ASU, where I had to spend a year creating a portfolio and apply for the program towards the end of time period. It was mostly here that I learned a degree in photography would only get me a teaching job – and didn’t I already decide I didn’t want to do that? When I applied, I didn’t get in!
I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do, though, so I searched for technical programs where I could learn how to both develop a style and run a business. I found one near Boston, and one in Santa Barbara. I chose the one in Massachusetts, and after months of preparing for the move and thousands of driven miles, I left before I even got to orientation. I knew it was more of a cop out to try and go to a school where I couldn’t learn what I could in the real world and on the job. It was then and there that I was bound and determined to find a job or an internship with a photographer, which I found back in Scottsdale, AZ with a wedding photographer.
After 2 years interning, learning, and eventually moving up to studio manager in Scottsdale, I started shooting my own weddings back in Wyoming for friends I had known for years. Eventually I moved to Texas to expand my career, and then back to Wyoming once I met my husband. I started shooting 3 weddings a year and eventually got up to my current 33, traveling all over the region to shoot with people I adore in incredibly beautiful places! I am so grateful for listening to my gut and understanding what I needed in my career and as a person rather than listening to what everyone else told me I needed to do.
What made you want to pursue your profession/area of focus?
I definitely tend to pursue whatever I feel passionate about. I chose to focus more on weddings in the realm of photography because whenever I would close my eyes and dream of a perfect photo, it had a bride and groom and their wedding clothes! Plus, I love organization and design, and each of those elements make up one really happy photographer that loves to problem solve on wedding day.
I also have a passion for real estate and interior design; I have my real estate license and my husband and I bought, flipped and sold our first home within the last 3 years. We’re wanting to pursue that more in the next 2 years! And of course, with the podcast, I have a real passion for sharing how I turned my life around when I was in my early 20s. I was an entirely different person with a different idea for mental strength (aka zero) and had to learn so much in very little time to get the life and career I wanted. So, I’ve loved sharing what I learned to change my perspective and reach my goals with other women!
What’s the best/most important thing you’ve learned or taught yourself? Why?
The best and most important thing I’ve taught myself is definitely to listen to my gut. After a major breakup, where I experienced the toxicity of shutting off my own needs (living where you don’t want, working in a job you dislike, being with someone who is less than what you deserve, etc.), I had to re-teach myself what my gut felt like and what I needed. I basically had to get to know myself all over again! Now, I listen to my gut every single day – whether a client and I are a good fit, on where my career is heading, and even if I need the day off or not. It’s by far the greatest lesson anyone can learn and definitely the least-talked about element of self-care: knowing what you need!
What’s the next thing you’re going to learn or teach yourself? Why?
I’m goaling for 2 things in the next five years: build our own wedding venue in Sheridan, WY and learn how to run and market that, as well as dive deeper into investment real estate and flipping houses! Both are very different realms than wedding photography, but both are branches of what I already know a little about and have huge interest in. The way I think about the venue and interior design remind me of my days before I got into photography – I just can’t stop thinking about them!
Favorite resources for ongoing learning? Why?
Favorite resources: I am such a nerd for learning anything and everything I can get my hands on!
- I love the Bigger Pockets for Business podcast to expand my ideas of business in general. I think it’s so important to have a grasp on more than just the industry you’re in to keep things moving forward.
- For photography and design, CreativeLive is an incredible resource for online learning.
- I also have a business coach (highly recommend) that helps me keep moving and is always assigning fantastic business books for me to read.
- One of the best I’ve ever read is You’re a Badass at Making Money, by Jen Sincero. 10/10 the most life changing book for any entrepreneur or human to challenge your ideals around money – spending or making it!
What’s your favorite spot where you currently live & why?
Even with all the beautiful places I’ve traveled for weddings and vacations, my favorite place by far is still the river land on my family’s property in south eastern Wyoming! It’s so simple and beautiful in so many different ways in all seasons.
The trees, the grass, the river – they all just feel like home. We used to spend a lot of time down there with my family when I was a kid, and it was the first place I started taking photography clients as I started my career. I know that place like the back of my hand and feel more at home whenever I get to visit!
Out of all the places you’ve been, which has been your favorite and why?
I am absolutely obsessed with Santa Barbara, CA. I traveled there for the first time with my dad when I was searching for a photography school and completely fell in love with the laid-back feel, the stunning cliffs and of course, the ocean. I love that you can wear a sweatshirt near the beach – I am NOT a fan of summer clothes! I got to take Jeremy back to SB with me for an elopement in 2017 and he loved it just as much as I did. The food, the atmosphere, the weather, and the scenery – both landscape and architecture – are too beautiful!
Bonus: what’s one thing you wish people would ask you?
What do you enjoy besides your work?
When people ask about me, I’ve so often equated myself to what I do. It’s taken me a very long time (almost 10 years) to realize that I am more than what I do. It’s still a concept that I’m coming to terms with and figuring out daily. But I do think that if more people had asked me this, I would have comprehended that I myself, as a person, am bigger and more than what I do for work or who people think I am. What you enjoy besides work means you’ve decided to TRY to enjoy things beyond your work and other obligations. That is the ultimate form of self-care!
Learn More About Cassie Madden Here
- Website: www.cassiemadden.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/cassie_madden
- How to Adult – The Millennial Woman’s Guide podcast: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/how-to-adult-the-millennial-womans-guide-pWqHFlxi4_7/
- Podcast Instagram: www.instagram.com/howtoadultpod