I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell…
Some days I feel like I’ve fallen under every cliche known to mankind, especially when it comes to photography. I had my DSLR for all of 8 months when I started charging for photos. I call myself a professional photographer. I’m a mom. Yes, I started really getting into shooting kids when my son was born. Yes, I do have people that tell me my work is awesome, which is part of what prompted me to start a business. Yes, I call myself a natural light photographer. Yes, I claim to be a lifestyle photographer. Yes, I have done the holding hands and walking away pose, more than once. And yes, I would KILL for an Epiphanie Bag.
So, before the “real professional” photographers start on me and before I get hit with “fauxtog” comments, here’s a bit of my background and why I’m choosing photography.
I love art. Any sort of art. For me, writing (good writing) is a work of art. I love painting, drawing, music, dance, writing, all of it. I am incredibly creatively inclined. I have pictures that race through my head, things I have to try or else the ideas may just kill me. I have been this way for a very long time. Reading and writing started it. Then music. Then dance throughout middle and high school. I’ve never taken a dance class, but I can watch it and copy it within the limits of my body (still trying to get my foot up over my head). I took various art classes through middle and high school, even a photography class in eighth grade. I didn’t pick up a camera until 12th grade, though, and that was for a photojournalism class (yearbook). That did it for me. I never wanted to put that camera down. I loved capturing the moments between people, loved capturing how people connected to one another. That summer, I did some shots of the girls I babysat, shots that would make me cringe now. I carried a point and shoot with me everywhere and used it almost every day. I was constantly trying out new things to the point where I could go no further with that point and shoot. That took me 6 years. I played with light, decided I hated on camera flash (still do), and started venturing into landscape photography, vowing to never go into portraiture. All through college I played with my point and shoot. I even did mini sessions with it. I loved it.
I spent four or so years exploring landscape photography, but I kept coming back to portraiture. I love working with people as much as I love solitude. I love seeing the relationships that develop between others, and that’s something a cliff face, no matter how dramatically beautiful, can never show you. Two and a half years after our wedding, my loving husband, my number one critic, bought me my very first DSLR, a Sony a33. I immediately started shooting with it, trying to get the perfect pictures I was seeing everyone else get. And I failed, on numerous accounts. So, I switched to Manual mode. Shooting in manual made me realize that the reason my photos had been turning out, to put it bluntly, horrible, was because I had no basic knowledge of how a camera works. I was taking everything far too quickly. So, I started learning. I read everything I could get my hands on about aperture, ISO, exposure, shutter speed, composition, manual focusing, anything and everything to do with photography. And I practiced. My quickly growing son was my main model, but I had a few others as well. Soon, though, I started growing tired of the same. I love my son, and I love capturing his life on film (or SD card), but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to see how I would do with other kids, with families, with people, in a professional setting. So I started marketing myself, and guess what. I got hits. I did pretty well for someone just starting out, and I had a blast.
The images I took for each session I took as my own mini lessons. I’ve submitted many of them for critiquing, and every critique is stored in my brain and written down, then applied to the next session, which is then submitted for critique, and the cycle continues. I never stop growing or learning. This isn’t a craft where you can take the luxury of hitting a plateau growth wise. In order to keep up, you have to be ahead. You have to stay on your toes, and you have to keep learning.
I started charging for my work not because I feel like I’ve hit that place where my work is that fantastic, not because I wanted to get rich, but because I do value my time. I put a lot of effort into what I do. A lot. I spend hours in processing, putting finishing touches on, resizing and saving files. I spend countless hours now on my business aspects, marketing materials, learning tools, new equipment. I don’t make a living off of photography. I never wanted to.
I love to create beauty. I love creating lasting memories that families will hang on their walls, and thirty years down the road will look back on and remember the moment. That’s why I’m in this business. That’s why I pay taxes to run this business. That’s why I have a business license. So that, maybe, in twenty or thirty years, I will get a call from a former client saying how much that moment meant to them, and what it still means to them.
So yes, I had my first DSLR for 8 months before starting Barefoot Photography, but I had been cultivating the skills necessary to be successful for years before that. I call myself a professional photographer because I charge for what I do and because I take myself seriously, and I want others to do the same. I am a mom with a camera, and that has changed so many aspects of my own photography and has brought out a different creative flair than I thought I had before. Yes, I started seriously getting into child portraiture when my son was born, mainly because before then, I hated kids. Yes, I do have people tell me that my work is awesome, but I have friends and colleagues who love me and respect me enough to give me honest opinions when I ask for them. If a photo is garbage, they let me know, albeit sometimes very ruthlessly. Yes, I call myself a lifestyle photographer and a natural light photographer. The pictures I want on my wall are those that reflect our lives, and I know my clients prefer those as well. And I still hate using the flash, though not because I don’t know how to use it. And yes, I have done the “cliche” poses. You’ve never held hands with your significant other before? It’s life. Cliche is a part of that life (although I’ve never done the heart over the pregnant belly, and I’m hoping I never will).
And yes, I would still kill for an Epiphanie bag.
It’s after eleven. I’m lying in bed next my husband and toddler son, listening to them both saw logs. My brain, however, has decided that it is fine not sleeping tonight. Truth is, I’m way too excited about tomorrow to sleep!
Tomorrow marks the day I finally start living. I’ve never been a risk taker, I’ve always just sat on the sidelines watching life sweep others off of their feet whilst I remain jealously immobile. Tomorrow, I’m stepping onto the field of the unknown and taking those risks that are so crucial to leading a life well spent.
I know you are just dying to know what changes are coming to my life, so here they are!
(1) Tomorrow, I will become an independent consultant for Scentsy!!! I’ve been very interested in direct selling for a year, but didn’t want to take the risks involved with getting started. One of my most awesome friends has gotten me hooked on the product and I simply adore it! So why not sell it? (hey, if you want to know what Scentsy is, or if you want information about ordering, hosting a party, or joining my team, leave a comment or send me an email!)
(2) I have spent six years in college. After last semester, i decided I had had enough of higher learning. College drained me of my love of learning and my finances. However, no matter how much I try, I can’t ignore the fact that I have zero job training and no degree, which means I have no way of paying back those loans that got me through those six years of college. Luckily, the army has a program for spouses that gives them the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to land a job in some of the fastest growing career fields out there. So tomorrow, I will be registering for an online course to begin training as a transcriptionist. I will learn the skills necessary to gain a job in this field, and will hopefully be able to use that income to pay off my student loans. That is the hope and goal.
So there you have it. I’m feeling amazing about the changes that are coming into my life, changes that are well thought through. I can’t wait until tomorrow! It’s time to start living!!
Let me just say, I despise moving. Like really do. The Army makes it easy on us by having people come in, pack everything up, and then shipping it all for us. But still. I hate trying to get everything organized and in their proper rooms to be packed up. I just cleaned out our storage shed and discovered years worth of junk that my dearest husband (the packrat) has been hoarding. Like, things from when he was maybe 5 (he’s 27 now). It’s driving me insane. I don’t keep anything unless it’s majorly symbolic in my life (like my baby book or year books). He has things stashed I don’t think he even knows what they once meant to him. It drives me INSANE!
I’m generally a pretty well organized person. Things become cluttered, and I go through and reorganize everything again. I’ve been avoiding the storage shed like the plague since I started renting it earlier this year because 90% of it I can’t go through until John gets home.
Can you tell what one of my pet peeves is yet?
I think it’s as good as it’s going to get for now. A few more things to put up in our storage closet (i.e. Balian’s closet) and it’s on to something else.
Are we there yet?
It’s that time! Well, almost that time. But I’m going to be (hopefully) super busy the next few days and John comes home on Friday, so I’m writing out my New Year’s Resolutions today (before I forget. Because we all know how awesome my memory is.).
1.) I am going to lose 40 pounds, preferably before the start of summer, but definitely by the end of the year. This will put in between 140-150. 130-140 is a really healthy weight for me, but I’d be thrilled if I could just get below 150. I’m not only doing it for the vain reasons (though that has something to do with it) but because I do have a lot of medical issues that I’m hoping will go away once the weight is gone (like the high cholesterol and the fatty liver).
2.) Take better pictures. This past year (2011) I started the process of opening up my own business. Let me let you in on a little secret… i still have no idea what I’m doing… I want to spend this year and grow in my love of photography, to remember why I fell in love with it to begin with, and to learn as much as I can so I can better serve my clients. I’m also hoping to get in a few more maternity sessions, at least one birth session and at least one newborn session, and lots of kids sessions.
3.) Enjoy what I love. I love playing my flute, reading books, playing with my boys. My husband will be home for the year. I’m going to do my best not to take advantage of the time we have together, because who knows how short it will be? One thing this past 19 months has taught me (John has been gone for just about 19 months) is that life is too precious to spend it being selfish, ungrateful, and angry. I’m going to try to be happy, gracious, and giving, as much as I can be this upcoming year.
Those are my three biggest resolutions. I am feeling super confident about them. I know this year is going to be an awesome year, because I will make it awesome! .
I really need a shirt that says, “I’m a Senior English Major. I own my own photography business. I’m a mother of a 17 month old boy. My husband has been away from home for 18 months. What’s your story?” I always wonder what type of reaction something like that would get.
I attend the largest Christian University in the country, probably in the world. I love Liberty, with all of its flaws and horrible decisions. The people, however… Oh the people… Because of its size, very few students bother to get to know, really know, another human being (outside of dorms). Even in some of the smaller classes you can see this happening. I have a class of less than 20 people, and I personally know maybe four of them. Would I like to get to know more? Of course. Will I? More than likely not.
Students who attend a school the size of Liberty tend to place their judgments of others on that first meeting, that first sight. They take into consideration what the other wears, what shoes, do they have makeup on, do they need makeup, do they seem confident, are they lacking in intelligence? English Majors are notoriously horrible about this. That first impression could make or break an entire semester, even an entire year. Even worse is listening to someone in class. Again, this is worse in the English field (although I’d imagine Theology majors are bad about this, as well). If someone raises their hand in an upper level English course, you expect them to have something enlightening to say. If they don’t, you begin to question their intelligence. Have I done this before? Absolutely. Have I been judged like this? More than likely.
I’m a pretty friendly and open person, and I am more than willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, repeatedly if necessary. I have a tendency to try very hard not to judge people (at least, not harshly). The only thing I ask is to not be judged in return. That request is repeatedly ignored. Which brings me back to my original point.
I am 24 years old. I am a wife, first and foremost. My husband is Army, and has been away from home for 18 months. Secondly, I am a mother. I have a 17 month old boy. He is my reason for getting up in the mornings. Next, I am a photographer. I have turned my love of photography into a business so that I can help others capture those special moments in their own lives. Finally, I am a student. I am taking 12 hours of 400 level English courses (the sane English majors typically stick to 6-9 hours), and an additional 3 hours in an upper level Theology class (which I actually adore). This is my final semester.
Don’t tell me you understand how I feel when I say I am overwhelmed. You don’t. Do not whine at me about how difficult your life is, because you’ve no idea what that term means. I don’t want sympathy. I want a friendly ear to listen. I don’t want judgement. I just want you to understand where I come from. And I want to hear your story.
If I can do all of this, so can you. So do many other people on a day to day basis. Most other people in this world have more worries and cares on their shoulders, much much more, than I ever will. I am thankful, every day, for the sacrifices that have been paid so I can live this lifestyle. Yet I will not disguise my troubles. I will not disguise how much it hurts when I am judged.
Until you know my story, how can you pretend to know who I am? And until you know who I am, how can you pretend to judge me?