How Photography Cracked Me

Sometimes people ask, 'what got you into photography'? And I usually say it's a pretty boring story. I do not have one of those old stories of how I got my first Polaroid when I was 7 and instantly knew I was going to be a photographer. While that may be true for some, it seems like an opportunistic story. I also got kitchen toys . . . and I am certainly not a chef. [Although I'm hoping Chef Charles can help me out with that.]

You get my point. No one ever says they knew they wanted to be something when they were a kid if it doesn't pan out.

Anyway. I did take an awesome film class in college. I don't remember much about the printing process. I only remember being stuck in the small dark room closet, on my hands and knees, looking for the roll of film I just dropped. I spent a good 20 minutes and I was positive that tiny room grew to the size of a basketball court. Being on the gymnastics team at Illinois State University, I took advantage of shooting one my favorite things, athletics, on black and white film. It was awesome and challenging and really really cool.

This class was the bees knees. But no, this class was not what hinged me into a career of photography.

Moving on.

About 5 years ago, I purchased my first Nikon dSLR. That was a huge deal. As a young professional, it's a tough nugget to bite, seeing all my hard-earned dollars leave my checking account in one lump sum. I took this camera on a trip to Japan with my grandma. [I realize I need to find those images and blog the street photography. Maybe this winter.]

That trip was one of the most memorable experiences for so many different reasons. And this might've been the gateway to what has ensued. I remember around that same time, I was loosely dating this guy and we were talking about photography. And I remember saying something to effect of 'yeah, I think I can do this. I'm going to apply myself and work at building a photo practice'.

Relax, the photo credit doesn't go to this guy. But I remember this conversation so vividly. When I say something out loud, it puts the accountability in my hands. [And yes, his identity will remain anonymous.]

I also remember, being in one of my best friend's weddings. Her photographer was, well, interesting. The word diva comes to mind. At one point I asked him, very kindly, about the kind of equipment he was using. He was quick to let me know that equipment doesn't matter, because it's the photographer who makes a great photo. [And he never told me what lens he had.]

While that is true to some extent, for pete's sake man, I was just asking an innocent question. As an outsider observing, shooting felt routine for him and his presence just felt like 'bride x and groom x's photographer'.  I admired his work, but I couldn't believe he wanted $40 for a 5x7 print.

Riiiiiight. I couldn't even buy it out of principle.

It was soon after, that I began the pursuit of wedding photography to offer brides and groom, high quality, creative and economically priced photo options. Obviously every photographer has his/her own prerogative to charge what they wish, but my goal was simple. Photos are the stories of moments in time. It was important for me to create an offering that would allow the most amount of people to obtain these memories.

I knew I was going to love photography, shooting the details and borrowing from my journalism degree vein. To me it became a way to selfishly fulfill a need for myself and shoot what I wanted.

What ended up happening was a little different.

Photography cracked me. It morphed into more than just seeing it as working with baby x, bride x, groom x, wedding x, etc.

Whereas I started photography for me and what I could create and how it made ME feel. It quickly became about Steph and Brad, Brittany and Rick, Payton, Cohen, Leni, Betsy, Katie and Paul, Dayna and Jason, The Halls, The Alejoses, Katie and Kelly, Stephanie and Richard, and so many more.

I was invited into their stories and exposed to the wonderful relationships they held. I can't believe they allowed me to document some of the biggest moments of their lives. I would love to go have a drink with every single person I've worked with and with whom I'd love to call more than just 'clients'.

Photography cracked me.

It made me more human. I started seeing love and families and life changing moments, rather than 'projects'.

And for that, I'm thankful to everyone who has ever allowed me to work with them. You've made me a better photographer and a warmer person. [I'm also less terrified of babies. :)]

I will always work my hardest to deliver these images that capture perfect moments of time in your lives.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.