On top of being a mom, I label myself a Work at Home Mom since I’m a Photographer.
Photographer? That’s a sweet gig.
Kind of. It’s a fantastic form of art that some do as a passionate hobby and others for income. I sit somewhere in-between.
I chose Photography because it chose me.
No, really. It did.
In 2002, I was a student attending the Art Institute. I was feeling frustrated with my experience so far with the major I took up. Animation & Media Arts didn’t feel like something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. I was feeling uncertain about my future after college. One day I was wandering the school halls and came across this gorgeous picture. It was this photograph a student had taken of a couple walking in the park during autumn. Everything about it was amazing; the sharpness, the colors, and the mood all spoke to me.
“That’s it,” I said to myself. “I’m going to become a photographer.”
I was so confident of this decision that I changed my major to Photography that same day.
I didn’t have a lot of money at the time (what college student did?) so I purchased what I had hoped to be a decent camera to practice and learn with—the Dakota RZ-2000 by Olympus.
Ugh, it was terrible. Or maybe it was just that I was terrible. Perhaps a little of both. As a student learning, it was likely more me than the camera.
I was so excited to be part of that group of people that tells stories with a snap. It didn’t matter that I had not a clue what I wanted to focus on, I just wanted to take as many pictures as possible.
My first subject was a tree.
Boring ass trees.
For some reason I put it in my head that this photograph was a work of art. Looking back, I must have been blind. It was my first attempt at landscape photography. I was eager to pursue as a hopeful career path when I graduated since I have a love for nature and landscapes. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly on my way to National Geographic with this photo. Nevertheless, I continued practicing.
In 2005, after extensive research, I knew right away that I wanted to be part of the Nikon family. I dumped the Olympus and purchased the SLR Nikon FM-10.
Before the convenient joys of digital, I was a lover of old fashion dark rooms and film. With no dark room, I instead turned my photos over to drug store labs. Film was always a magical surprise in every envelope. I loved being able to get my photos back and see just how well my pictures came out. I loved capturing the entire world around me and putting it into my little album. It became my quiet hobby. It brought me so much joy during a period where I was still trying to figure out what did I want to do with my life.
My dream was to shoot pictures of amazing landscapes and beautiful terrain. Since I wasn’t near anything like that, I settled for whatever was around me. I captured anything that spoke to me on a creative level.
I wanted to become a landscape photographer. My dream was to travel the world photographing gorgeous terrain and open fields. But I also knew I wanted to shoot people, as well. I guess that’s why I jumped at the opportunity when it presented itself some years later.
Unfortunately, my first official portrait experience was lousy. Back in summer of 2007, I attended a small wedding in New York. Excited, I decided right away that I was going to bring my camera to film the day. Shot after shot, I captured the couple as we roamed the city and here I thought my pictures were going to be fabulous. But when I went to pick up my film, my heart sunk when the clerk told me they all came back blank.
My attempt to break into portraiture and wedding photography failed. Embarrassed and defeated, I decided to take an indefinite hiatus. It took a tragedy unfolding in my life to finally push me forward again.
July 30th is forever marked as the saddest day in my life. It was the day I learned my first child passed away in my womb at 32 weeks. While at the hospital, I was asked by a nurse if I wanted to hire a photographer for my little one. A photographer? I had no idea why this moment would need one. What is special about this moment that it requires photography? Curious, I accepted the offer and waited to see just how a photographer could help. It was a photographer who came in to capture tender photos of our little one before we let him go. He was a photographer called in from a volunteer group called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS).
NILMDTS is a non-profit organization composed of volunteers who service grieving parents. I didn’t understand it at the time but I was never going to remember my son through memories alone. If not for that organization, I wouldn’t have the pictures I do now of my son. I didn’t know it at the time, but that photographer re-sparked my love for photography again. That it didn’t have to just be a hobby; that it can bring people joy and make others smile. I had to pursue it again and stick to it.
With a new goal, I buckled down and invested into my third camera body, a DSLR: The Nikon D5100.
I felt like I could take on the world. And I did.
Right off the back, I jumped back into portraiture starting with a friend’s wedding. I wasn’t the official photographer, but the experience was just the inspiration I needed. I began building my portfolio and from there photography just took its own life. Every day I was learning something new. Every month I saw my work improve bit by bit. I was developing my own signature, style, and voice.
Portraiture took a highlight again when I joined a forum of women photographers. My dream of being a professional photographer turned real when I opened up my business. I knew how to a photographer, but I had not a clue how to run a business. The challenge felt like something I could conquer with time and commitment.
All the time in the world didn’t prepare me for just how challenging being a business is.
It’s been three years since I made the decision to run a business. The satisfaction of being self-employed isn’t there. I made a lot of mistakes, suffered more loss than profit, and find myself at a loss with the future of my business. I have a lot of soul searching to do in the next few months, but I don’t intend to go out or give up just yet. Not without a bang.
I love doing this too much to just stop.
Ten years ago, I said I was going to become a Photographer. I’m still that girl who enjoys taking pictures and was certain she wanted to make it a career. But where will it take me next?
I’ll find out.
Who is she? I remember asking that one day. It’s not a question…03 July 2016