My name is Marianne Bley. I am a wedding, newborn & branding photography specialist. My home studio is located on Chadwick Beach Island in Lavallette, Ocean County New Jersey 08735.
I am passionate about capturing life's milestones, both big and small, for couples and growing families and assisting them in preserving their images by creating stunning wall displays and tabletop heirloom products to grace their living spaces with the ones they hold most dear to their hearts for generations to come.
35 By 33 | NJ Wedding Photographer’s Journey to Fit & Fabulous
I have been unhappy and uncomfortable in my skin on and off throughout my life thus far. Since I was little, I never had the “perfect” body. I was always a few pounds over weight, even when I was really active in sports but when I moved to college, I did not gain the “Freshman 15”, I lost at least 15lbs from not eating as consistently throughout the day and from walking everywhere that I went because my college did not allow freshman to have a vehicle on campus. I actually got used to not having a car and walked miles upon miles each day to meet up with friends, go to the beach, go to work, etc… It wasn’t until I was 21 that I really enjoyed drinking alcohol but when I did, I took it to a new level, lol. Let’s just say I enjoyed being out and socializing until the sun came up. My early to mid-20’s became all night social gatherings and days upon days that I just slept through only to get back up that afternoon and get ready for the next event.
It’s really funny looking back now because as I am thinking about this time in my life and wondering what else I am willing to share with the world about my 20’s and my many mistakes is: all of that brought me to where I am now and this entire experience made me fall head over heals in love: with my career, my husband and myself.
I bring all of this up because I LOVED myself from Freshman year to Junior year of college. LOVED. It was the first time in my life and that I felt really good about myself, who I was and I was confident about the way that I looked. Looking back now, I know why I was so happy. I was at the weight that I wanted to be at, guys paid a lot of attention to me and I did all of the things that I loved most in the world. As an art major, my days consisted of sculpting, painting, drawing, photographing… All of the classes that I took, were truly inspiring and instilled the passion that I have for art history and theory. I LOVE art in general, photography just became the perfect outlet for me to express it.
Now, fast forward 1o years… That’s right, 10 years went by and it has been a wild journey. In 2004, I graduated from Monmouth University and it took me 2 years to find a graphic design position (what my degree is in). As I mentioned above, I was still not fully ready for the real world and was still enjoying late night social events and as time went by, I started to get heavier and unhappier with myself.
In 2008, I chose to move to North Jersey by myself, away from all of my friends and family, for another graphic design position that paid more money. I did not know anyone in North Jersey so I was alone and it was very depressing. I realized that I hated city living right away but I thought this was a good career move. I thought being away from the partying with friends would help too but it just forced me to make those choices alone and at home instead of out in public. I was not happy at all, my weight was getting worse and I was lonely as hell. Note to self, a social person should not be left alone for days upon days. I would come home from work, make myself a big carb-filled meal and watch tv and movies while having a few beers and then do it all over again the next night. On the weekends, I would go visit my Dad or a friend but that too was rare, everyone was busy with their lives and I was just too far north for anyone to come visit.
Then, I turned to the internet to try to meet someone and a miracle happened. I met my super, fantastic, amazing husband! I met Mike on Match.com. I know?! Match, of all places but it was weird, we both knew right away that we were the perfect match for each other. We met in person after about 3 or 4 weeks of talking online and on the phone and when we did, we both knew. We spent Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon together on 3 separate dates on the very first weekend. It was a marathon date but on that Sunday, when we met up to go play mini-golf before I make the drive back up north, I saw him waiting for me in his car and that was THAT moment, that I knew I had fallen in love with him. He was so much fun and very supportive of me and together, we did lose about 15lbs each on Nutrisystem in about 3 months time but I started to get sick of the food and we both ended up going back to the way we ate over time. My weight and size were always on my mind but I could never find the right program for me to be really successful and keep it off.
Later in 2008, I moved out of North Jersey and moved closer to my boyfriend and where I grew up, about half way. I decided that since I had so much free time because I was not sitting around feeling bad for myself or hanging out with my boyfriend because we were still a distance from each other, I started working out again with friends (I was close enough now to meet with one) and I decided to buy a camera. I wanted to buy a professional camera because I realized that over time I had lost all of my creative hobbies. When I left college, I lost access to all of the awesome things that I had access to before like a darkroom, painting aisles and computer software so I sent my friend Jessica an email asking her what type of camera I should buy and the rest was history.
As soon as I purchased a camera and a few lenses, I started to work for Jess as her 2nd photographer at weddings. I did this with her for over 2 years until I decided that I wanted to photograph weddings on my own. There were several long car rides with Jess that I can recall, where we discussed what we hoped was in our future and how we would make a career work with the rest of our plans. I came to the realization that I wanted to make photographing weddings a career. I kept working for her and other photographers in my area that I reached out to and soon after, I started a wedding photography business with one of my friends. We were in business together for about 3 years and then we decided to go off on our own as well.
In 2012, Mike and I got engaged! 3 weeks later, Superstorm Sandy happened and we lost our home. We went from an extreme high to an extreme low. Stress, anxiety and panic did not help the situation. We weren’t even allowed back to our home for several weeks so our hands were tied and we had no access to our own belongings. We moved in to with my future mother-in-laws home in North Jersey and it was a hard time for us both. Mike lost the home he has renovated and we both lost most of our possessions. In the spring of 2013, I was determined to get fit by our wedding in the fall of 2013.
I did a pretty good job, I worked out a lot with friends. Mike and I made better choices when we were cooking and eating out. I was pretty happy when the wedding day came, I was not at an optimal weight but I felt good. Soon after, the pounds came rolling back on though. Over this last summer, I had a few heart to hearts with myself about my career and I decided that I was determined to be an amazing wedding photographer. I had been to countless workshops and seminars and heard some really great speakers speak and one of the biggest take aways that I took from last years mentorships was that it is not fair to your clients if you ever feel like you was not giving 110% of yourself to them because you are physically or mentally too tired. There were definitely times at weddings that I felt tired, I think any professional can say that but I never let it keep me from doing something that I was supposed to or wanted to do. Those words still added motivation and fuel to my internal fire and I started to think about all of the possibilities that I would have if I was in better shape…
And there I was, this last November 2014, after just celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary in Las Vegas and I was 20lbs heavier than I was on our wedding day. I was disgusted and when we got back from our anniversary trip, I decided to start a program called Nutrimost. I was very skeptical but I was so upset with myself that I would try just about anything. My husband was upset with me initially because I told him how much money I had just swiped on our credit card but as soon as I explained to him how I felt and I began to cry expressing my feelings towards myself, he knew it was the right choice for me. As soon as I started the program, I saw results. Pounds were flying off during the first 2 weeks. Then, it started to get harder and the numbers kept doing down but at a slow pace but I just followed the plan as best I could. My mother started the program soon after me and every week we would meet up at the doctors office for our weekly weigh in. It has been 4 months today since I started my Nutrimost weight loss journey but I am proud to say that I have lost 35lbs, 76 days before my 33rd birthday!
My first goal with Nutrimost was 30lbs and actually, Nutrimost has a 20lb guarantee. I actually fell 2 lbs short of the guarantee in 40 days, so I was offered to do a 2nd round on the program for free! So my goal naturally changed from 30lbs to 40lbs because I felt that if I was able to get 2 lbs away from the guarantee before, I could easily try to get to that and then possible double it. Disclaimer: I also started this diet right before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day. I had a lot of little obstacles but little by little, the weight has come off!
Now, I am just 5 lbs away from my 2nd goal and I am pretty confident that I can beat it in the next 76 days. I am also thrilled to start the rest of my life over again, especially my wedding season as a photographer, I know that I am in such better shape physically and mentally than I have been in years. I just can’t wait to make amazing works of art for my clients this year. I always have a lot of energy when I have a camera in my hand but now it is going to be even more! I am so thankful for everyone who has supported me throughout my journey. I know it hasn’t always been easy but it has made me such a better person and a better wife…and I am back….Back to LOVING MYSELF again!
You should be confident in being yourself, at any size and age if you are not, make the right changes to make yourself happy. As a photographer, I dreaded being in front of the camera, I have always stayed behind. I love making others feel great about themselves but sometimes, you have to take a step back and make yourself feel good too. Now, I am looking forward to having a new bridal portrait taken since I weight less than I did on my wedding day. I can not weight, lol!!!
If you would like more information about the program that I did, please contact me using my contact page and I would be happy to share more of my story and put you in touch with my doctor who really helped me get there. I honestly don’t think I would have been successful without a coach cheering me on via text message every day and having to be accountable with going to a weigh in every week but I have not been this happy in years and I hope anyone reading this can say that they are happy with themselves, if not, make whatever changes you think you should to make yourself happier. Trust me, it’s soo worth it! xo
Marianne Bley is a wedding, newborn & first year photography specialist that is passionate about capturing life's milestones, both big and small, for couples and growing families and assisting them in preserving their images by creating stunning wall displays and tabletop heirloom products to grace their living spaces with the ones they hold most dear to their hearts for generations to come.
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