I get asked this question a lot. “When did you feel like you found yourself as a photographer? Your editing style? Your direction? ” This is by far one of the hardest questions to answer because although there are several moments that make up this path to finding all of these elements and really growing into them, this question is deeper to me than most are prepared for. So it’s hard to answer that on the spot when most people are waiting for a reply of workshops I’ve done, classes I took, presets I use. It goes beyond all that for me.
My husband and I are a Christian couple so life was supposed to be perfect you know. I married my husband and kissed him for the first time at our wedding day. Neither of us were perfect before we got married, so unlike most would assume, no it wasn’t the first time we ever kissed anyone and no we didn’t save ourselves for each other. When I met my husband I was in a renewed state of mind and had made a commitment to God that He just naturally desired to jump on board with. Together we chose to love God and dedicate our relationship to him this way.
I used to think that living a Christian life and marrying a Christian man would guarantee me a perfect marriage, a perfect love, and a perfect home. And in my mind, perfect meant…no mistakes, no flaws, you know…just perfect. I’ve been married for 12 years now and perfect is funny to me. At least my initial idea of perfect. Literally before getting married Jimmy said he couldn’t ever possibly get mad at me (ask him if that’s true now!). Jimmy and I went through one of the hardest years of our lives in 2015. I honestly didn’t know if I would make it through to see our marriage survive..let alone thrive. But by God’s grace it did…and it has. We not only fought for our marriage, but we’ve had the best marriage since. (And please don’t get me wrong….our marriage was not a rocky marriage before 2015, it was really “perfect.”-confusing I know).
What does this story have anything to do with my career, and photography itself….everything really. In 2015 during the hardest year of my life, I found myself as an artist. I found out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. My own marriage taught me lessons about life.
We are humans, and we make mistakes. We have flaws. But we love, we love so deep and that love is so perfectly IMPERFECT isn’t it? It goes beyond a feeling and being happy all the time. True love means you experience life together. True love means that you’re in it, in the good times and in the bad times. I love the life I live with my husband. I love that we have pressed through our hard times. I believe it has made us a better team. There’s no one I’d rather go through life with. We’ve had the best times together and we will continue to enjoy our lives together each passing day. And now…this is the way I like to shoot. It’s in my editing style. It’s in my posing. It’s in the way I communicate with my clients. I no longer want to capture or create a perfect scene or moment…I now realize that real life is authentically perfect.
I’m the photographer who now likes the joy and likes the solemn moments. The guys really love me because I don’t make them force smile throughout the whole shoot. I just like to be present you know. I love capturing presence, and if presence is busting up laughing, then great! But if presence is calm and soft smiles, that’s just as great! And if presence is serious and protective….fabulous. All of it…it’s great, really really great.
I found out who I was as an artist the moment that I experienced my own life in a different way. I started to see the life before me as something so imperfectly perfect. I no longer wanted to capture pretty things and make everything look blissfully perfect. I wanted depth and reality-authenticity and truth. It really changed everything. IT was then, that I fell in love with my own work. It was an outward expression of an inward emotion. Even in the moments that I stage my couples, there is something so real and so authentic happening. It’s a joy to capture LIFE.