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It Gets Better

“It gets better but it has to get much much worse first

On September 14, 2014 I wrote a blog post that got a lot more attention that I had ever expected. It was the day that I came out of the closet. I was driving down the road with friend Meka when we passed a hardware store that had a huge sign over the exit that said “Out”. I immediately pull in and insist on her taking photos of me jumping in the air and doing the splits I was just going to send it to a couple of my friends when she said “if you ever come out, you need to use one of these”. I though that was genius so I took a couple of serious photos too. This led to the conversation of when/if I ever publicly come out.

Have you ever fantasized about winning the lottery? Like when your driving down the road and a Rolls-Royce passes you and then you get lost in thought thinking about what it would be like to have that kind of money, how much happier you would be, how literally every struggle and worry that you have today would just disappear over night? Then you snap back to reality and remember that you don’t even buy lottery tickets? For me, that was how I felt about coming out. Everything would be perfect, but I knew I never would. September 14th felt like the day I found out I won the Powerball.

I could finally be myself and not have to hide anymore. I could show the world who the real Hunter is. I had it all planned out in my head of how my life was going to be from this point on. I was finally ready to just be happy and free. And just like every good lottery winner, I, instead, lost my mind lol. The plot hole in my fantasy was that didn’t even know who the “real” Hunter was. I had built up this whole life around me and over night everything was completely different. I was walking into this whole new world as a “blank” person, but was completely oblivious to it. I didn’t have my own thoughts or views on anything, those were the thoughts of the person who’s “role” I was playing.

Needless to say, it didn’t go great lol. I found myself back to the person I was when I was in high school. All those old insecurities came back up but the most pronounced one was the fear of not being liked. This is an insecurity that I dealt with for a very long time. I thought that I had overcome this fear because it wasn’t really something I dealt with anymore. I had built up this whole perfect life around me where I was liked and I knew I was. I had molded my life to a T to be a life where I would always be accepted. I was a successful, southern baptist man who had a wife and a kid and never made any risky decisions. If I ever felt “not liked” back then, I had the excuse in my head that if someone disliked me, they actually disliked this role that Im playing. I guess it was kind of a coping mechanism. But now it was the real me so it was so much worse and personal.

I slipped into a pretty deep depression because of it. I went from feeling like I had won the lottery to feeling completely alone. I developed a pretty severe case of social anxiety and got to the point where it was hard to even have a conversation around new people without the constant fear of them not liking me. This depression effected me in all areas of my life and even into my photography. I would post a photo and someone would leave a somewhat negative comment and I would delete the whole photo. Even if there was 100 good comments, I would think that I wasnt good enough. I would even teach a workshops and go to my back room where my assistant was and would say “literally they all hate me, I can tell” and she would laugh and act like I was crazy. I got to the point of taking a year off from wedding workshops because of my anxiety and depression. I started doing more solo projects where I could just be by myself.

Fast forward to me standing alone in the Newark airport’s gift shop. For some reason that day was a particularly bad day and I was looking for anything to cheer me up. I walk over to the book section and try to find something funny to read. Then I see the book “You Are A Badass”. I, being the complete opposite of a badass, decide that this is the book for me. I read the entire thing on the plane ride home and then something just clicked. My entire way of thinking shifted to learning how to love myself and no matter how other people felt. I worked for about a year on “finding” myself and learning how to love myself. I would leave post it notes all over my house with cheesy sayings like “Your good enough Hunter!” and “People love your company!” haha. I would wake up every morning and make myself come with with 10 things I like about myself. I even started meditating to youtube videos lol. Finding that one little paperback book was the push I needed to climb out of that hole.

So, Im happier today then Ive ever been in my life. Im ready to get back out there and doing what I love doing with my photography. No matter what your situation is, if you feel depressed or hurt and think there is now way out, that cloud won’t hang over you for forever. I promise you, everything will be ok. It gets better.

I get so many inquires about doing wedding workshops again and Im now honestly so giddy thinking about it. One of my all time favorite workshops has been my Great Gatsby inspired one, the sets were some of my favorites that Ive built and I always wished I could have gotten more shots on them. So, now that Im doing them again, what  better way to reopen workshops than with recreating the entire Gatsby workshop!


Where: Shreveport, Louisiana

When:    Feb 9-10, 2018

Investment: $900 (half due to register, half 30 days before workshop)

Past workshop attendees get 50% off of this workshop!

When does registration open: October 7th at 12pmC on the Three Nails Facebook page

How long will registration be open: Registration will be open until the seats fill, there are a very limited number of seats once they fill the workshop will be closed.

What does this workshop include:

  • 3 fully styled photo shoots (an engagement shoot, a bridal shoot, and a full wedding complete with everything you would see at a wedding)
  • A “how to” get published segment
  • A full editing segment on exactly how I edit
  • Everything I do from inquiry to delivery with brides
  • A set of some of my custom foundation actions available only to workshop attendees
  • Small shooting groups so youre not fighting other photographers for your shot
  • A photo shoot makeup lesson
  • Learning the importance of social media for todays market
  • How to change your shooting style to book clients that YOU want
  • Dinner every night
  • I go into detail on why I pose the way I do and how to achieve a story line for your shoots
  • How I light sets
  • Every single set you see here will be recreated:



I can not wait to shoot this again! Im excited to get back on the horse teach again! Ill see you guys then!:)

-Hunter Leone


October 5, 2017 - 9:13 pm

Haley Martin - YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!! Oh hunter I’m so excited for this. Thank you so much for being you and being the badass that you are!!

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