Finding My Why (Part 1): My Journey to Photography | Whidbey Island Family Photographer
I’m not sure if “discovering your why” is just photographer-speak, if it’s something all creatives seek out, or if we are all looking for the meaning behind what we do and WHY we do it.
Regardless, from the time I started my photography journey nearly seven years ago to today, I finally know why what I do is important – and I’m making it the center of what I do going forward.
Why I Began
Ryan and I had a long journey to parenthood. We experienced loss after loss, along with several healthcare providers that frankly didn’t want to help us. Our prayers were finally answered when we found an awesome doctor in Corpus Christi and were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in 2012.
When Sophie was born, I left my corporate job and tried to settle in to the stay-at-home-mom life. And while spending time with her every day was such a gift and I loved every minute of it (well, nearly every minute), I knew pretty quickly that it wasn’t enough.
That’s hard to admit, right?
It’s not that she wasn’t enough, or that motherhood wasn’t enough. We felt SO lucky to finally be parents. But I had always been driven and motivated by chasing down goals, working on projects, and finding success through school or work. I mean, let’s be honest - I wasn’t getting any gold stars for the fastest diaper change.
I didn’t miss working in the corporate world, but I did miss having something that filled me up, gave me a purpose, and helped get my creative energy into the world.
I started following a few photographers who were also military spouses, and an idea began to form. Maybe photography could be a fun hobby, and one that I could take with me no matter where we were stationed.
While most female photographers I look up to admit they started taking pictures when they had kids in order to document their family, I picked up a camera because I was suddenly staring at minutes and hours that needed to be filled. I needed a hobby.
I needed a sense of purpose beyond motherhood.
Part of me feels guilty admitting that, but guilt is a part of motherhood for me in so many different ways, and I’m working to move beyond the guilt and see the good that comes from hard choices. One thing that makes it easier is when I hear the girls answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and they say over and over, “An artist and a mom.”
When I started learning about photography there were not nearly the number of resources out there for beginning photographers (I’m old, people!). I had to comb the internet for information, teach myself Photoshop, and mess with code to design my first website.
But the research was fun, finding answers was fun, taking pictures was fun, and editing was fun. Everything seemed like a puzzle, and once I put one piece in place there was another question that needed an answer.
I found that I enjoyed almost every aspect of photography.
It became something I wanted to do every day, with new goals set for myself month over month, year over year. I started to believe that what was at first just an (expensive) hobby might be my calling after all.
Why Family Photography?
When I first started out, I took pictures of just about everything. I thought you had to show work from newborns to weddings to look legit. And don’t get me wrong – there are amazing photographers out there who work seamlessly between subjects – but I wasn’t one of them.
Over time I realized that even as I was improving, I was trying to be a jack of all trades while mastering none.
I started to take online classes in subjects ranging from indoor natural light photography to storytelling to fine art photography. Inch by inch, the classes helped my camera become an extension of my body. And even though I started to feel like maybe (maybe) I knew what I was doing, there was still something missing.
Enter the class that changed it all for me.
A longtime fan of Clickin Moms and the Click Photo School, a friend I’d met at the Click Away conference a few years back launched a new class “Connected: Images with Heart.” My friend Virginia Greuloch was one of the most energetic, passionate people I’d met in the photography world, and since I’d only taken technical classes up until then, her approach sounded different and fun.
Virginia challenged us with exercises that drove down to the core of what we wanted to do with our LIVES (not just our art) and why. WHY. Through her exercises and the invaluable feedback from fellow students (many of whom I now consider close friends), my reasons became clear. My beliefs became clear.
The focus of my photography became clear.
You’ll find these exact statements on my website, as a means for my clients to understand my process and why I do what I do:
What I Believe
- I believe in being authentic.
- I believe in showing women how lovely and loved they are.
- I believe in imperfections.
- I believe that every family has a unique story.
- I believe in leaving physical proof for children of how much their family loved them.
- I believe that art can change the world.
- I believe that taking family pictures can be FUN.
It was suddenly clear what I should focus on – family photography – and why. I wanted mothers to feel beautiful and confident. I wanted children to have pictures of their whole families, WITH their parents in the frame. I wanted families to have fun and enjoy being together. And I wanted to capture real moments of joy and love.
Stay tuned for “Finding My Why (Part 2)” where I break down everything I’ve been working on behind the scenes over the past year to infuse my WHY into every aspect of my business and brand.