Ugly. At least that’s what she told herself every day when she looked in the mirror. Plain. What she thought when she compared herself to other people. Her teeth weren’t straight and she had worn glasses since the third grade. She believed the names people called her – four-eyes, nerd, snaggletooth. Or her favorites – chipmunk and donkey-face. The lies from her peers far outweighed the truth she knew in her heart – that she was beautifully and wonderfully made. Self-confidence was a daily struggle. She hated taking pictures and would hide any time someone took out their camera.
This was me. I bet you didn’t expect that from a photographer, did you? This was a daily battle in elementary and middle school. I’m not sure what moment was the pivoting point for me. Maybe it was when I started reading a chapter of the Bible each day. Maybe it was when I found friends that encouraged me. Maybe it was when I ditched the glasses and started wearing contacts. Maybe it was a combination of all these things.
I remember in middle school when I started taking a disposable camera with me everywhere. I loved taking photos of my family and friends and putting them in a scrapbook. In high school, I got a digital camera and a cell phone. That 2MB digital camera with the tiniest viewing screen made me feel like the coolest person in the world. A few years later, my parents gave me and my brothers cell phones that could take photos. It’s funny to look back at how much technology has advanced just since I was in high school!
Fast forward to my junior year of college. I did a few photo sessions for my friends (with a point-and-shoot camera) and I was hooked. It took me three years to decide what I wanted for my high school graduation gift from my grandparents and I finally decided on a digital camera and a zoom lens. Being a business major, I wanted something valuable that I could also use to make money. That particular semester, I took 24 credit hours (what was I thinking?!) and I didn’t have much time for my camera. That is, until I saw another photographer doing a photo fundraiser for a mission trip and I had a light bulb moment that I could do the same thing since I was planning to go to Belize that summer. I started photographing all types of sessions for only $20 and all the money I made went to pay for the mission trip to Belize. I was able to pay for the entire trip and meet some amazing people in the process. Little did I know that just a few years later, I would have a successful photography business!
I never dreamed of becoming a professional photographer. I never could have imagined that this would be my reality. How ironic it is that someone who hated being in front of the camera would enjoy being behind it so much and would eventually choose to get in front of the camera! I’m glad that I struggled with self-confidence because I’m able to recognize when my subjects are self-conscious about the way they look and make a point to encourage them.
To me, photography is way more than just taking pictures for people to hang on their walls. It’s freezing moments in time so that you always remember the love you shared, the details from your wedding, how tiny your baby was once, and those loved ones that have now passed on. I have built so many relationships through my business and shared laughter, tears, and happy memories with the people I photograph.
Clicking a shutter has allowed me to click with people from all walks of life.
This is why I do what I do. I’m so thankful that God uses me in this way to bless others. All the credit goes to Him because I would not be where I am now without the growing pains of starting from complete brokenness.
One of my goals for this year was to start a blog. I envisioned sharing photography tips at the beginning of each month, but somehow that has turned into posting weekly. I will be blogging all my weddings, sharing personal stories, and sharing photography tips. I hope you enjoy reading about my photography journey each week! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or send me a personal message.