Ten years ago, at the age of 12, I took this photo. It is the reason why I do photography now. I never imagined I would be where am today when I snapped this photo. All I knew was that as soon as it appeared on the playback screen, I was hooked.
As a kid, I was always fascinated by the concept of taking pictures. The fact that you could capture a moment in time and look at it later amazed me. Polaroid instant cameras were one of the most intriguing inventions I could get my hands on. I even had a toy Polaroid sort of like this one.
When I was 7, I got my first camera--a point and shoot film camera. I was thrilled. Many of the rolls of film were filled with pictures of my brother and my cats. I tried to take some pictures of flowers but it never went well.
Then when I was 12, my mom had just bought a digital camera. (This was back when 5-megapixels was top of the line.) Again, I was amazed. You mean, you can take a picture and see it right away?? And you can delete whatever ones you don't want?! One day I asked her if I could take some pictures of our potted flowers outside. She agreed, and so I happily went outside.
When I saw this photo on the 1" x 1" playback screen, the way the front was all clear and the back was all blurry, I was hooked. I started saving for my first camera that day.
I eventually upgraded to a fancier camera, and then later, my first DSLR.
In recent years, I have had so many cool opportunities because of my interest in photography. Sports photography, senior photos, a marriage proposal, events, launching this website, hosting an online store, and so much more. I say it all the time but I really mean it: I am so blessed to be able to do what I love and have other people love it, too.
But the thing is, my photography isn't just about the skill and the opportunities. In fact, I would say my photography is where it is today because of some pretty tough things I experienced as a teenager. When I was 15, I started "blogging" through the photos I posted on Flickr. I would upload a photo that represented a person or event and include a quote or lyrics that helped to illustrate what it was about. Sometimes I would include my own writing. Every time I would put up a new photo, I could feel a weight lift off of my shoulders.
I remember one day in particular, I was so frustrated with myself and what I was going through. I just need to take pictures. That thought came out of nowhere. I paused to think, and realized that maybe photography was my thing. Some people write songs or poetry. Some paint or draw. I take pictures. That's how I make sense of life. So that's what I did.
It's not like the pictures came out to be fantastic, but it helped me process and deal with the things I was experiencing, and that made it worth it.
As I've grown and become better at dealing with life's less-than-stellar moments, I've strayed away from uploading to Flickr in that way. But it's amazing to me to look back at each of those photos. To this day, I can tell you what each one represents. I can feel what I was feeling in the moment I uploaded it. I could probably even tell you how I came up with the composition or what was going on the day I took it. To be able to look back on all of that and see where I am now is so encouraging. If you want to see what I'm talking about, you can check it out here.
Photography means more to me than any amount of views, sales, awards, or jobs. Ten years later, I still get that same feeling I got when I took that photo of the marigold, and I hope that never goes away. But I'm not worried about that. Photography is my thing.
My early photography was supported by the words of others, so it seems fitting to include some of the most influential quotes I've come across. Robert Hayden said, "Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a way of confronting life." And I couldn't agree more. Asher Roth said, "Do your thing. Do it every day. Do it 'unapologetically'. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they’re going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing." Between the two of them, they sum up my approach to photography pretty well.
Thanks for an incredible first ten years of practicing my art. And thank you for encouraging me to "do my thing" even when you had no idea just how much it meant to me.