What Made You Want to Go Into Photography?

Yesterday one of my blog friends asked me this question and with my Wednesday Words post coming up the next day I new I had my topic.

What made you want to go into photography?

The short answer is that when I was in high school my mom called out my passion for it and told me I had an eye for it.  But the long answer is way better…

When I was a Freshman in High School my family took a trip out west.  They picked me up from summer youth camp in Laramie, WY and we trekked further west in our gargantuan RV.  We called him Moby, like Moby Dick the great white whale.

We took two main stops:  Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton Mountains.  What I remember from that trip I mostly remember through the pictures I took with my little Canon point and shoot and journaling.  I don’t remember specifics other than that it was a little silver camera.  But that little camera and I captured a lot of beauty on that trip.  After I got pictures printed I remember my mom looking at them and telling me I had an eye for photography and that she saw I really enjoyed it.  Leave it to Mom to point out that I carried that camera everywhere and, unlike most kids, was more interested in photographing life from weird angles with intentional framing than photographing with my friends.

A couple of years later I took the best class I have ever taken, Yearbook, with Mr. McCallum.  McCallum, I hope you are reading this because any time I talk about why I do what I do I always say something about how your class was the most influential class I have ever taken.  It ignited a passion in me and taught me all of the most important tools and tips I use in my writing today.  In this class I mostly learned about how to write a good journalistic story.  He taught us all about “Be verbs” and storytelling.  That year I won a state yearbook award for a piece I did about a local haunted house.  That simple award pushed me to the realization that maybe writing wasn’t just something I loved doing but something I could be good at.  I also shot the pictures for that story so when the end of the year rolled in McCallum asked me to be a part of the editing staff as either a section editor or a photo editor.  I had a choice.  At that point I knew I loved designing layouts, writing, and copy editing as a “job” but I didn’t know if I would like photography as a “job.”  So, for adventure’s sake, I chose the position of photography editor.

The next year, my senior year, I hit the school scene with my camera always at my side.  I attended events of all kinds and relished photographing every event I was assigned to.  I specifically remember feeling so honored being on the sidelines at the football games, bantering with the guys and with my fellow ninja photographer, Eli.  Only a few months into taking photography assignments I knew I was home.  So I dumped out my pile of college information and selected only the schools with at least two or three photography classes.  My mom and I took an extended weekend in the fall of 2006 and toured my midwest choices.  Judson University was the last school of that tour and not only was I completely underwhelmed by the other schools, but Judson captivated me.  I remember specifically loving the quaint campus, the prospect of being close to Chicago, the Ugandan study abroad option, our tour guide Jaimee Bartha, and something far less material.  This school wasn’t my ultimate ideal, I did really want a rigorous photography program and Judson could only give me two photography classes, but I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to trust in Him and commit to this school.  By October of 2006 only a few short weeks after my tour, I was fully enrolled for a double major in Visual Communications with an emphasis in photography and Media Studies with an emphasis in writing.

I continued through my senior year at Buffalo High School soaking up every minute behind my camera and was so engaged in my college credit courses.  But the capstone of my whole year came at the end of the basketball season when our guys not only made it to state for the first time in 80 some years but they won it.  Each of their games Eli and I sported special press passes like all the big shots with their expensive cameras and official jobs.  We sat with them on the sidelines of the Metrodome courts like equals.

In the spring of 2007 I hit the books, or, rather, my sketchbook, hard.  For the first time in my life I gave up sports for school as I quickly discovered the art program would demand all of my energy.  And, just like in high school, I quickly became known as the girl with the camera.

At the end of my four years I graduated with a major in General Art and a minor in Writing.  My senior show was a photographic examination of water (CLICK HERE to see that project).  My plans of graduating with a photography major fell away when I fell in love with Joshua.  I even visited other schools intending on transferring but when he asked me to stay I simply couldn’t deny him.  But I’m glad I did, because I finished at Judson I also fell in love with engaging with photography as art.  I learned I love marrying my passion for biology and art together in fine art photography.

My photography business wove itself neatly, but discreetly into my life.  I started booking random sessions with families and seniors the summer after my freshman year of college as a way to make a few extra bucks.  Again, this idea came from my mom.  The last semester of my senior year at Judson I quit my part-time job at Starbucks and launched “a Sunshine Moment” full time.  I shot my first wedding a few months later at Hotel Baker.  And then the dreaminess of the job died.  That wedding met me head on with every technical difficulty and misstep.  And the rest of the summer on the job gave no respite.  Building a business identity and client base is hard and I dreaded every wedding and session until I arrived on location; however, when I arrived at each shoot I bloomed with excitement and creativity.

I approached the next wedding season, last year, full of apprehension.  I was nervous I would dread every shoot again, especially since I was booked for around 25 weddings and ongoing portrait sessions.  There was no turning back at this point.  But, lo and behold, I hit the photo scene full stride and brimming with confidence.

And now, here I am, working from home and supporting my family with my photography.  I thank God so often for providing me with the means to do the work I am so passionate about, especially right out of school.  a Sunshine Moment certainly was a leap of faith; self-employment and owning a business is not for the faint of faith.  Yet I cherish every moment of it because it is so much easier to see God’s provision and faithfulness without the guarantee of a steady paycheck.  I am also so thankful for His gift of some key people.  If it weren’t for my mom calling out a gift in me and encouraging me to run with it, McCallum giving me a chance to grow and test my passion, and Josh’s continued support and encouragement there is no way I would be here.  Parents and teachers play such a vital role; by encouraging your kids and students into their gifts and passions you grant them the greatest treasure, work they love!