My biggest fear in my journey of entrepreneurship and photography is that I will lose myself in the process. The photography industry tends to paint a very pretty picture for everyone in regards to what a photographer should be like. And the truth is: I am not that photographer.
I am not the sugary-sweet photographer with the Pinterest-worthy home and the outfit that is perfectly tailored to my body and style, nor am I the incredibly artsy photographer who has the moody/edgy photos that can sport a hipster outfit and hat. I LOVE those photographers, I really do. They are some of the most talented and kind people I know. I am not saying that all photographers are the same, either, because that is far from true too. But, I am saying that whatever it is that you think the typical photographer is, I am not her.
The truth about me goes as follows:
I am kind, yes, but I am not outwardly sweet. I’m actually quite awkward in person. My sweetness is not the characteristic that naturally radiates from me. I tend to fall on the more sarcastic side of the spectrum and my kindness is usually displayed in a compliment followed with a joke that may or may not actually be funny. I am bubbly sometimes, perhaps, but I’m mostly playful. And want to know what else? I curse. A lot. NEVER in session with clients, but the real me has a vernacular that is identical and then some to a sailor.
My life is far from perfect and I’m allergic to too many things to be able to post beautiful photos of macarons and donuts like a lot of people out there do, and my co
llection of succulents is sorely lacking. My favorite flower actually changes quite often and I tend to lean more toward leaves, rather than flowers these days (eucalyptus leaves are stunning to me). I am not dainty and I do not stick to just one glass of wine per sitting. And sometimes, it’s not wine! It’s actually mixed drinks. I put my foot in my mouth constantly and have NO idea how to put an outfit together that feels even remotely stylish or suiting to who I am. I still like to wear Vans and I enjoy sparkles on things because I’m five on the inside and I have no idea how to accessorize my jewelry to my outfits. No idea. Like, not even the slightest.
I am so flawed, you guys. I need mental breaks sometimes after a shooting a large crowd of people because I get so easily overstimulated and I sometimes get overwhelmed with how much work I actually do versus how much money the work is actually producing. I am scared at times for what the future holds for my business and am afraid that I gave up a college degree for a huge risk and a blind leap.
But, what keeps me on going will always be this: it is not about being perfect, or being just like other photographers, or even about how much money I end up making. It’s about why I started. I started this business because of connection. I have a never ending hunger to connect with others. It really fulfills me. When the computer is shut and off, the phones are away, and when TV’s become just black rectangles in our living rooms, all that is left are people. Face to face, breathing in the same air as you, sharing the space that surrounds us, reading each other’s body language, using instincts that we forgot we had, forcing us to speak into the silence hanging in the air around us; people.
When I’m in a photo session with someone, I am not thinking about my phone or the likes I’ll get or what to write in my blog or what my next Facebook status will be, I’m thinking about how to capture the connection between the people in front of me. The camera forces people to unplug for a second and be vulnerable with one another and with me so that they can convey something beautiful to hold onto for the rest of their lives. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, but look at what people photograph to understand what they most fear losing. For some people, it’s themselves, for others, it’s their families, and for me in my life, it is the fear of complete and utter disconnect from other people. And my fear that people will forget how to connect with each other. I’m so fearful that technology and text messages will replace an actual conversation. Who cares how nervous you are to talk in person or if you feel overwhelmed because talking in person is simply hard—-THAT is that beauty of it. Before I was a photographer, I was a poet, and the poetry in life lives directly in the vulnerability and shaking knees between people. To live, is to feel all of the uncomfortable feelings and look back and remember what it was like to feel those memories, not read them from a screen. Photography is vulnerable and there is nothing more human than that. Nothing more fulfilling, either.
So, my promise to you is that I will, from this day forward, ALWAYS be real with you. Whether you are a client, a friend, or a family member. I might curse sometimes. I might be awkward. I might be funny or sarcastic or quirky, but either way, I will always be myself. Because I can’t afford to lose myself. I’m quite fond of the person I am, and I hope you’ll grow to love her too.