The main question you get when you’re a photographer is “why did you decide to be a photographer?”. I have never, in my life, been able to answer this question. I graduated high school with the intention of majoring in ‘undecided’. I never would have dreamed photography is where I would’ve ended up. Aside from the getting-dressed-up-to-take-myspace-pics on a wild friday night when we were too young to do anything else, my photo knowledge was nonexistent.
Getting back to my “why”; I didn’t think I needed a reason. However, last year I created a project that made me think I had found my “why”. I used photography to express a piece of myself that others could relate to. I made myself vulnerable to criticism. I helped people and I helped myself. After that, I thought I was finished. I thought I had completed the chapter of my life that involved a camera. I didn’t think it was my “passion”. I didn’t feel this overwhelming joy each time I made an image. I didn’t feel like it was necessary for me to push how much I loved photographing families, babies, and weddings when I wasn’t quite sure that I did.
Something that I have always been consistent in is letting my fears keep me from moving forward. I’m starting to understand the balance between cautious wisdom and irrational fear. It is wisdom to not walk alone at 3:30am. It is an irrational fear to not leave the house during the day for that same reason. I wasn’t sure if starting my business was a good idea. I didn’t know if it was my passion. I wasn’t sure if I’d be good at it. I didn’t know if anyone would like my work. Mostly, I didn’t want to face clients and say “there is nothing that brings me more joy than to be with you on this day” when it wasn’t true. I was scared. I am scared. I am cautious.
I’ve come to realize that my passion isn’t photographing people for the sake of making photographs. It has nothing to do with being able to sell a canvas of your children with matching frames. I have no desire to walk in, pose you, and walk away with a payment.
How does this apply to my “why”?
I met my best friend 10 years ago. I have been by her side and she has been by mine. I have watched as the pizza delivery boy asked her on a date. I pleaded with her to not go on that date. I was proved wrong time and time again as she became his fiancee, wife, and (a year ago, today) the mother to his son. I have had the honor to document this journey for the last few years. I have captured the sweet, subtle glances. I have captured the single tear. I can look back on the hands that have been held, the laughs that quickly came and went, and the life that has been brought into the world.
Why am I a photographer?
I am a photographer so that my best friend can remember the butterflies she had when her future husband told her again and again how much she meant to him right before he presented her with a ring.
I am a photographer so that my best friend can relive seeing the face of her son for the first time without being fogged by the chaos of a hospital and pain meds.
I am a photographer so that my best friend can witness the moments, that are usually so fleeting, time and time again.
I am a photographer so that my best friend can forever cherish the milestones that happen so quickly.
I am a photographer because I experience joy every single time I capture a moment that won’t ever be able to be recreated.
I am a photographer because that baby boy won’t be a baby forever and I want to capture how wonderful he truly is; how wonderful his parents truly are.
I am a photographer because even though I let anxiety win on occasion, it can never take away the memories I’ve made, the people I’ve met, or the skills I’ve learned.
I am a photographer because I am.
My ‘why’ may have been realized through having a best friend that gave me the opportunity to capture her life.
However, my ‘why’ will continue as each new person I meet gives me that same opportunity.
Happy birthday to a piece of my ‘why’. I love you Sam!
And a big thank you to my best friend, Audrey Tucker, for being the most wonderful support I could ask for (she also writes a pretty great mommy blog…so check that out here).