I shot my first image the my 12 part series on the first of February. I am shooting my second image on the 12th, this Wednesday! AND I am shooting the third image on the 17th, next Monday. I am really excited to get so much accomplished halfway through February. Now the really hard part, to edit each of these to perfection! I am not even starting my editing until I get the third image shot so that I can focus all of my energy on making sure I shoot these perfectly so I don't have to figure out how to fix it in post.
In the meantime, I wanted to share with you more of my backstory.
In junior high I took my first photography class. 7th grade to be exact. It was a darkroom class sine this was well before digital. I absolutely loved to watch my image come alive as the developer worked it chemical magic. I was definitely hooked. In high school I decided to take more photography classes as well as art classes. It was in my junior year in high school that I decided I wanted to work for National Geographic and travel the world photographing EVERYTHING. Wildlife, wilderness, people. I never really believed I could do it so, I forgot.
My dad got me my first SLR camera when I was 17. It was film of course. I wore that poor thing out. I did glamourous photo shoots with my friends where we would dress up in all of my gowns, and do hair and makeup. I would have to get their permission to post any of those, but they were so much fun. I discovered later that my favorite thing to photograph is people. Looking back I think I always knew that but I never acknowledged it.
After high school I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew college was the next step but I hated homework and studying. I loved art. I took a year off and took choir classes in community college.
One day I received a postcard from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the cover image was by one of their photography students. The image was eerie and beautiful. Something inside me stirred. My heart quickened and I wanted to learn how to make art like this, to learn how to take photographs like this one. I never even thought of looking into art schools. I wish I had someone to help me in high school, but I suppose I wasn't ready until this point. I started researching art schools that had great photography programs. I had it narrowed down to a school in southern California and one in Pittsburgh, PA. I chose Pittsburgh because it felt comfortable and welcoming. I felt at home with the green hair, mohawks, multiple piercing, tattoos... even though I had none of those things. I just felt accepted. I loved my time there. This was still the days of film although digital was starting to surface. It was a lot of film, grey cards, metering, darkrooms to load your film from the canister to the reel, wet lab darkroom to enlarge and print your images via the chemicals. I made friends with students in all art fields. It was such a creative environment, I just loved soaking it up.
I took a break before I graduated to serve a mission for my church. My dad was not pleased that I was quitting school and told me he would not pay for it if I wanted to go back. He probably would have if I had asked but I didn't. 7 years later I enrolled again and finally finished my bachelor degree in fine art. I am glad I took the break for many reasons. 1. When I started, the photography program was only an associates. 2. When I finished, digital was A LOT more developed and I got to learn all of the cool digital tricks. 3. I cherished the time I spent serving a mission and grew in so many ways. I was more able to talk to people after and to put myself out there.
After I was married I told my husband of my desire to go back to school. I felt it pulling me, calling me back home. He agreed and moved across the country with me.
When I went back I still only intended to do an associates degree because you don't need a degree of any kind to be a photographer but I changed my mind because I wanted to learn more. I am so glad I did. I learned a lot more about technique, skill, and my own self. I had a baby in the middle of a quarter and still finished all of my classes. I graduated pregnant with my second. Family is important to me and there was nothing stopping me from having both a family and my education.
My plan, while I was in school, was to start my own lifestyle photography business and make money at that. I failed at that attempt for several reasons. I was really bad at marketing myself. I was really bad at pricing and sticking to it. I was not really passionate about what I was doing. That was the biggest reason. I had fun, but I did not love it. I did weddings for a few years and enjoyed working with the brides and capturing their special day but at the end of the day, I wanted to do more creative things.
I did a lot of personal projects to practice techniques I had seen or different styles and colors. This shoot below lost me a lot of Facebook fans but I loved every minute of it. I was told I should not post the images because no one would hire me based on these images. I looked at them and saw that these were the best images I had shot thus far but everyone is freaked out by them. I did not take them down and I did not apologize. They were beautiful and the kids that modeled for me were strong in their faith, mind, body and they loved every minute of the shoot... in January... while it snowed.
Are these perfect? No. But they were an artistic expression for me and it felt really good to put it together. I added the tulle to the dresses myself. I bought everything for this shoot. At thrift stores and on clearance of course.
Anyway, so I did a few more shoots like this but not quite as bright or load and loved it. It was in my last couple of quarters at school (about the time of these shoots) that I realized my passion was not just photography. It was not to take family portraits, but to make works of art. So, I secretly decided some day I would be a gallery artist. It has taken me 3 years to get to the point where I am ready for that leap. Well, and here we are, me taking that leap. :)