A few things happened this week that made me stop and think. Not to go into much detail, but I realized that maybe my beloved readers, clients, friends, fellow photographers, don't really know ME.
I am in my 30's. I started my photography journey on Film, almost 11 years ago, in a darkroom, learning to feel my way around in the dark. I learned all the basics I needed to know to make a beautiful image, from one of the best film teachers at USU. From there I learned heart from my next professor - a man with a huge passion, empathy and kindness- Chris Gauthier. I learned to bring my heart and soul and process it in the darkroom, and make my love visible in art form. I learned frustration as I messed up print after print. I learned perseverance, to try again until I got it right. I learned to love the imperfect. The smudge of dirt, the ray of light leak, the heavy grain. I learned to listen to my clients, to really SEE them, not just photograph them. To feel their story, to see their pain, their joy, their life. I did projects that were painful - I took a trip down the memory lane of WW2 survivors, reading journal entries and making photos to match those entries - tears ran out of my eyes as I presented my pieces on film to my class mates.
I learned failure. I failed. And I failed. And with the love and support of many wonderful classmates, and a wonderful professor, I finally learned to succeed. I learned what it meant to give up hours of sleep, hours of time with my baby and husband, hours of life, as I tried to make perfection in that darkroom. Rather not perfection in the sense of a project that was flawless, but perfection as in learning to love all the flaws and show them in the best way I could.
I was lucky enough to land my first real job with Icon Health and Fitness with the most talented crew. I started as an assistant, and quickly worked my way to product photographer, and then producer, where I thrived and shined. I was able to travel, and be on many shoots, and be behind the scenes with some very talented individuals who taught me what working in the commercial field really meant. I learned from some amazing photographers and mentors and was able to get the courage to be behind the camera more and move in a direction that would allow me even more time behind and in charge of the camera. I worked with lawyers, dentists, many doctors, and various commercial artists/owners. And most recently for the past few years I have been blessed to work on many jobs with USU Distance Education.
My passion for wedding and birth photography began about 6 years ago and has made a steady climb. I learned to first love my clients, then work for the money. I learned that people are more important then the price. I learned to listen first, and charge second. I learned that it's a tough market, and an emotional journey. I learned there are other photographers who would uplift and yet others who would tear down. I learned kindness triumphs always.
I thrived growing behind my lens. And while my art was thriving, my family was growing. I added two more little girls to my family, making it a family of 3 girls, a supportive husband, an incredible assistant, and a crazy busy me. There were moments I lost sight of what was more important. Moments I didn't balance it all well. But we came out kicking, and growing all together. I kept trying, I kept climbing the ladder, I kept learning...and I still do. I did not grow up in the age of Social Media, I used old fashioned referrals, knocking doors, and sharing my art in any form I could. In January of this year I decided to jump on the Social Media train as I saw the benefits and further reach it can create. It's an amazing tool that has so much potential for good and growth, but comes with it's own set of problems. The problem of people only seeing a small slice of your journey and the things you have done, people only seeing what I put out there and not the real pieces of the puzzle that make up my 11 years of work. The journey my business has taken, the times I failed, the times I've worked free. The times and things that have gotten me to where I am now.
I have worked with so many amazing photographers and individuals and companies. I've been blessed to learn at the feet of some of the best photographers in the world in places like Chicago, Vegas, New York and California. And I've come out remembering that I'm still small, the world is large, and there are times of pain and times of pleasure.
I am real. I am honest. I am anxiety. I am mistakes. I am success. I am a believer in God and faith. I am mom. I am insecure. I am love. I am worry. I am failure. I am try again. I am a true friend. I am a watchful eye for someone in need. I am kind.
Of all the things I am, I am most proud to be the child of amazing parents and sister to the most amazing siblings. The youngest of 11, raised poor, raised to say "Aunt", "Uncle", "please", "thank you", "Excuse me". Raised to hold open doors, and look people in the eye when they were talking to me. Raised to try and try again. Raised to be kind - always. To give the shirt off my back, to listen before condemning. My father was a stalwart man who passed away a few years ago. He taught me to always think of others over myself. To be proud of others successes. To try harder. To give people the benefit of the doubt first. My mother is a gracious woman, who raised me to never give up, to persevere. To stand back up when I fall, to apologize when I do something wrong. She taught me the pure love of Christ, and what it means to continuously reach out to others first before caring so much about myself. They both taught us children to give more then we take.
I met my husband when we were 12. Friends first. And later lovers. We were married and within 3 mths he was gone to Iraq serving in the army reserves. I was pregnant and my parents were on a service mission in Guatemala. If ever I felt alone, it was then. A wonderful lady - with the biggest heart, invited me into her home. The mother of my childhood best friend. I would live there for almost a year, I would have my first child - without my parents, without my husband. And I would learn what it really meant to be strong. & I would learn humility as I allowed others to help me. I would fall to my knees on the hospital floor after my c-section having not seen my baby the first two days of her life, and there you would find a lost girl, crying alone. In that moment I learned how to get up on my feet, and work through the pain and loneliness. To carry on when I wanted to quit. I would take care of my baby and my husband would watch her grow up in pictures for the fist year of her life. This is how I came to be me. This is where I really learned what I was made of.
I have lived. I have loved. I have hurt others. I have been hurt. I have forgiven. I have asked forgiveness. I have grown and matured. I have failed. I have tried again. I have had a true friend. I have been a true friend. I have dissapointed someone I love. I have reached out and helped someone in need.
This is me. I will be real with you. I will capture memories for you to cherish. I will hold dear to me your story and I will do my very best to document it for generations to hold near. I will be me, and let you be you. I will cry with you, laugh with you, hug you, and become a lifelong friend. If any of that sounds like a person you want photographing your journey, I'm your photographer, but first, your friend.
Let's document life. love. and YOU.