Why I am a photographer
Someone ask me the other day, 'Why did you become a photographer?" Of course I have thought about it in passing, but I started to give it some real thought lately. I think it all began long ago, even as a child I loved art, crafts, photography, creating pretty much anything.
Yes, that is me, in my old lady nightgown, at maybe 8 or 9 years old already taking photos. As an extreme introvert I went more of the art path for most of my early life. I took all the art classes in school. I do not think my school even offered a photography class, and I would have never been able to do something like yearbook with all the personal interaction that it would have involved. I still love creating art for myself, painting, drawing, embroidery. I work on things on the side when I am not trying hard to make sure all my photo sessions are perfect. And when I am not doing all the other grown up things we have to do, cook, clean, run kids to and from sports, exercise, watch too much tv, read, laundry, dishes, help with homework, volunteer, maybe catch a spare moment to talk to my wonderful husband.
But I never tried to make art a career. I honestly never considered it. I went to college, earned a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, got married, worked on the psychiatric floor of the hospital and I thought I would work my way up to being a social worker. Instead I had a baby and became a mother. I quit my job and stayed home with him full time. Up until this point I had gone to school, while working full time, and then got a full time job. I had a life as a student, an employee, a resource case manager in the summer, but all of a sudden (of my own want and doing) I felt like I was only a mother. No one ask me how I was or what I was doing. I felt like my only identity was being a mom. I loved my baby and being his mom, but I wanted something else for myself. At this time I was taking photos of him every moment of the day. It give me something to do and I loved having them to look back on. I quickly started to learn as much as I could to improve. Soon I wanted a "fancy" camera, but I wanted it to be mine, I wanted to earn it for myself. I worked on my mom's farm a few days a week to earn money to buy my first nice camera. For a while the photos I took were not good by professional standards. I wanted to get better so I practiced, a lot. I still love looking though those photos though, and so do my kids.
I wanted to get better so I read, I watched tutorials, I joined chat groups, I spent my "me" time learning and practicing and getting better. The first few years of my children's lives are very well documented. When a friend ask me to take some photos of her kids I thought it would be fun. It would give me experience with other children and hopefully teach me how to think on my feet while shooting. I started with just shooting a couple of friend's families here and there. After a while when we went to hang out with people they did not just ask me about my children. They ask me about cameras, and photos, and how everything was going. I felt like I was my own person again. I had another identity. Photographer.
Photo credit to Elisabeth Sturgis who snapped this while I photographed one of her daughters and the other one snuggled up to me.
At first I did not want to own a business. I thought it sounded like a hassle and would take all the fun out of photography. However it grew more than I ever dreamed it would. I never imagined I would have my own business and studio. The thought that I could be running a full time photography business seemed too overwhelming for the shy introvert that I once was. However here I am. I get to meet new people all the time. I get to hold new precious babies, play games with toddlers to get smiles, help adjust a bride's dress. I get to capture the best moments in people's lives.
I am not sure if I could go back if I would choose to change the way I became a photographer. Would it have been better to go to school and learn the technically correct way to shoot, edit, and run a business? Would it have been easier? Would I have felt it become so deeply a part of my identity if I had not lost my identity first? I am not sure. I like to think this is where I was always going to end up. Photography has taught me how to be a little less of an introvert, how to multitask like a boss, how to work hard at something I love and how to be so incredibly grateful to everyone who allows me to share my passion and dream with them.
So why am I a photographer? I am a photographer because telling the story of a family that can be passed on is important. I am a photographer because you choose me to capture your memories. I am a photographer because photography fills my soul with joy.