"Holy smokes people, just SHUT UP AND SHOOT for crying out loud!" Was the response I had meticuously typed out, proofreading it three times over because I knew that if I let my fast paced typos out on this one, my point would be demolished. Crap. I don't give in to the drama. Best leave it be... I backspaced all fifty letters and exited the photography forum, yet on my way out I noticed a response to all of the hooplah surrounding a particular shooter and through all the smack and insecurities Photographers were seeping from their keyboards, a series of posted questions stood out to me:
"What drives you to be a photographer? What makes you pick up a camera?" What inspires you to continue down this path?"
For most the answer grows from the same rooted desires: to capture everyday moments. To show the beauty in the mundane. A creative release for the tension that builds in every day life. And for me my answer isn't much different at all.
Because if I didn't shoot I'd die.
I didn't go to school for photography and I never even had conscious intentions to make it a career. It was in my first trip to O'ahu when I was 16 that I only dreamed of a new camera (other than the one I'd had since 10 that shot panoramic!). My mom placed an old Canon t50 in my hands and I ventured through Hawai'i shooting what I still consider to be some of my best work. I documented the trip, shot what moved me and I recorded the things I never wanted to forget. It was simply my perspective, the way I saw life unfold. When I returned home, my mother (errr, I mean, SANTA!) had two shiny new 35mm Canons under the tree for my sister and I. I was quick to pick it up my new gear and start shooting everything in my path. Horses. Landscapes. Jewelry. Friends at school. All the little bits and pieces that make up life. I appreciated the artistic outlet and the nearly unbearable anticipation during that one hour of developing time. Boxes upon boxes of printed images stay tucked away in my closet, and after a Bachelor's degree and a few year span as an Interior Designer, I still always found myself camera in tow. Anxious that if I didn't bring it that it would inevitably be the day I missed the photo of my life. Scoping out the urban scenes of downtown Charlotte for a Flickr worthy shot (where I first got my real photography education, mind you!). It was in a moment of conversation that my generous mail lady mention that since I was always out taking pictures, maybe I should apply for Creative Loafing's internship. I had no experience working for a newspaper on assignments and as I finished my degree wasn't really sure if photography was what I was meant to do, but what I DID know was I wanted a reason to keep shooting. I felt it. An internship turned into paid weekly assignments (and a great friendship with Editor Kim Lawson!) and my experience photographing anything under the sun grew and grew. It was after reluctantly accepting my first wedding ("com'monnnn, you're going to be there taking pictures anyway" he coaxed) that I shot and fell in love with my first wedding. The people, the scenes, the dress--and of course the details. The perfect mixture of design that this Lover of All Things Creative dreams of. It isn't just the sought after wedding details that I am drawn to, but the small overlooked pieces that curate a story--evoke a memory. They are what made me pick up a camera in the first place.
Truth is, I would be happy still shooting anything under the sun. It is my own selfish reasons that I love weddings and all the pretty they involve, it's what I live for. The super cool elaborate invitations unlike anything I've ever seen. The loud heart stopping beat of the Lion Dance drum. The luscious way tulle effortlessly falls from a Bride's gown. These things excite me, drive me, and keep me looking at each event with a different perspective. And truth be told it's not about how much I make, because if I boil down the costs running a one woman business tends to not as lucrative as one would think. My career path has never been based on a dollar sign--ever-- it's been about what I am called to do in my heart. All the gorgeous things aside and perks of ending Saturday nights with a slice of cake it's the couples that fuel me. It's the desire to be that person who is at their wedding that they love and trust and know has their back. Who treats THEIR wedding day and their experience like it's my own. It's through my experience as a Bride that I have learned the highs and lows, excitements and potential disappointments in all that an event holds, and I want to be there for my clients. A friend when they need one. A saving grace with a needle and thread in a pinch. And someone to remind them to breathe and enjoy one another. Not just a photographer but a person who in the moment encourages them to make the most of their beautiful time together. That's what keeps me on this path.
Anyone can take a beautiful photo, but to me, it's more about the connections I make with my clients and how I can be there for them on a human level. Thankfully that friendship happens to allow for some stunning images.
Me photographing Leslie & Ben at Ko'Olina, shot my one of MY BFFS, Marissa! We go barefoot shooting around here. Thanks girlfriend!