Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why am I a photographer?

Recently, I have been asked a few questions repeatedly-
What got you started in photography?
Do you want to do this forever?
Why are you a photographer?

I am a photographer. My hand forms into the shape of holding a camera on a regular basis. I see better out of my left eye than my right eye, because it's the eye I shoot with. I sit back, and I watch and observe. When I am behind a camera, everything goes down to slow motion, and I can hear my heart beat, and see the smile and laughter of my client in a slow-motion movement.
It's beautiful. It's those black and white home videos of your grandparents you wish you could live. It's the part in a movie where you are about tojump from your seat because the problem was just resolved. It's the beat of your heartwhen you are enjoying a perfect day with the ones you love.
Photography, for me, is the body of a dancer, the voice of a singer, the hand muscles of a pianist, the pen of a writer.
Photography is simply....

When I was a freshman in high-school, I was doing online school. I wasn't allowed to see friends, I was home alone, and I had zero self-motivation.
One day, while on a walk, I noticed so many things-birds singing, trees dancing, bees buzzing. And I was thinking how beautiful it would be to capture this. This moment, when the world seems so still.
So, I brought out my parent's camera (that we were forbidden to use), and went on a walk. And I tried and tried to take a picture that moved me, shook me, and created a fullness in my heart.
But I'm not really much of a nature photographer. I couldn't get it...just right.
And then I thought to myself-what betterway to capture emotion, than to use the person that is feeling. So I grabbed my tripod, and found hidden places where I could set it up and take photos of myself without being absolutely embarrassed.
As time went on, I was feeling more. I had sad days,happy days, hard days, and easy days. And I found that the only time I felt truly connected with myself, God, and the world around me was when I was taking pictures. I wanted so badly to photograph others, but my family generally hates being in front of a camera and wouldn't do it.
So I learned to observe. I learned that it wasn't that hard to photograph the honesty of the moment-when the person had no idea they were being photographed. It became a competition, and struggle, and defeat, for me to take pictures of my family members that they didn't know about.
And each time...it kept getting better.
I bought myself my first (and so far my only) dslr. A Nikon D40. I was in love with it, and I didn't even know how to use it.
It became my best friend. It became what usedto be writing-my outlet for feelings. I used my photography to capture myself. Pictures such as these were the ones that meant the most to me.
These images were who I was. Looking back on them, it breaks my heart because I was so broken, and I was so scared and I felt so alone.
My photography became the only thing I had. The only place that I could fully be myself, and not put on the face of- I am perfectly okay.
So to answer the question of how I started-I started because I needed to get out. I needed my innards to be placed out in the open, so that they would not burst from me. I needed to be myself for an hour or so of each day, so that I could be okay with not being okay.

Soon after I felt myself "really starting to get good", Christopher came along. He added me on facebook, we talked all the time, he bought me a lens for Christmas (and brought it to me in a freaking blizzard!), and he soon taught me everything I needed to know about the manual functions of a camera.
My camera and I became even closer. I began to speak her language, so that my language would be spoken to those who saw my photos. My heart began to connect to her heart, and she was soon my only friend in my broken and confused world.
God was, by then, reshaping my life. And my heart was so caught up in the emotions, that I rarely paused to see how I was actually feeling. And it bothered me. So again, I picked up my camera. And although I stayed with self-portraits for awhile, I became comfortable in finding other things to express my feelings. Stephanie became a regular model. I was again capturing the emotions of my family, because restoration was beginning to happen. I started to find smiles on faces, because they were able to realize that they were stunning, pretty, beautiful, intricately created perfectly to how God intended.
And there was nothing more filling than that.
Chris and I began to shoot together. And it was overwhelming, and it was scary.
I was being pushed and shoved around for the sake of photos, and it felt good.
We have had good talks, bad talks, hard talks. But they've all come down to the fact of-our goal is to comfortably shoot, in our own styles and voices, together.
My favorite photos began to look like these-

Still capturing life, but differently. My photos didn't include only me, and it felt so good.
Soon enough, Chris asked me to shoot his clients along with him, and I loved it, because I was always capturing the inside moments that he couldn't get. Eventually, I was getting people asking me to do their photos as well.
I am still learning to capture honesty in a posed photo. I am still learning that it is okay to ask people to pose ways that seem uncomfortable, because they'll love the photo that comes from it.
My new favorite photos are photos of seniors, weddings, families, and much more.

To answer the question of would I like to do this forever?
Recently, I have been given to opportunity to literally SHOOT OFF my work, and my clients. I have been getting more clients than before, and Chris and I have learned how to successfully shoot together.
This is not only a hobby, but it is a business. I do not wish to put the label of "business" on it, simply because I'm not a fan of shutting things into boxes. But I do know that I long to share what I see with others. I long for people to see in themselves what Christ sees of them.
So I will make that available, to anyone that asks. Because I am a photographer.

Why am I a photographer?
I am a photographer because that is what Christ has instilled inside of me. That is the drum that my heart beats to. That is the rhythm that my mind and body form to.
Christ has given me an eye and a heart for people. I love being a photographer, because it forces me to find the good in every single person. It forces me to find beauty in all.
Christ has given me this eye. And I will not ignore that. I will not attempt to remove that, because it is forced into my heart.
Sometimes I debate whether I have what it takes. I wonder if I am good enough, if I have enough motivation to get things like editing and meetings done. But the truth is- of course I do. Because this is what Christ has made me.
And if for the rest of my life I have 8 seniors a summer, 3 families a year, and two weddings a year, that will be enough for me. Because that gives me the chance to intimately know each of those people. It will teach me about those around me, that Christ has created to have relationships with.
I long to deeply know people.
And photography is the way that I am able to do that.

I do not wish to be "successful" in the eyes of the world. I do not wish to be a world-renowened, international photographer. Yes, that would be nice.
But my dream is to be a photographer for those in need of one. My dream is to be that for those directly in front of me, here and now.

I am a photographer.
It is my sweaty palms. It is my butterflies in my stomach. It is my itch in my throat. It is the beating of my heart.
But most of all-It is my worship.