July 2, 2014
As I was chatting with a friend recently, she reminded me of how important it is for us as photographers…as creatives…as artists…to share our journey. She’s right. So, I thought I’d take a moment and do just that. Yep, I’d grab that coffee or tea…maaaybe a biscotti…or a protein shake 😉 and sit back, as this may take a little while. ha! It’s something I hadn’t taken the time to do, because frankly, it felt too vulnerable..and who would want to hear that anyway? However, I’m sharing it because I realized, recently, when I was contacted by a very sweet woman regarding the mentoring sessions I offer, that even if I could help to encourage just one more artist to create what they find joy in or hope in, then it’s worth every moment and every word on this page. As she explained to me that this mentoring opportunity would give her the boost of confidence and equip her to follow her dream and to get out of a situation that is less than ideal, I was humbled. It made me realize that what I do affects others even more than I had ever dreamed. It also made me realize the responsibility which comes with being an artist. We have an innate ability to express..to put words, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings into motion and to let them flow. Whether it be through dance, song, paint, sculpture, photographs, etc, we have the ability to influence others more than we even realize. How we influence others will have a lot to do with our journey. Where have we been? What have we seen? Who do we think about? Where do we want to be? So many things have influenced all of us in our journeys and it’s that journey which influences us and it’s that influence as artists that becomes our filter.
So, where to start? Well, I will not, can not, should not start from the VERY beginning, so let’s start at my photography beginning. You’re welcome 😉 Family has always had a different meaning to me when I was growing up than a lot of my friends. My parents were divorced pretty early and considering that my family on my father’s side was still in Colombia, we didn’t see them and since my mom was estranged from her family of 7 brothers and sisters, our “family” consisted of my mom, my sister, and myself for a while. The funny part was, it didn’t affect me too much b/c my mom was always instilling in us a sense of “friends are family”. Our Holidays were always warm and always spent with the most wonderful of friends. It wasn’t until I was older and had children of my own when I realized how much family history meant to me. That’s when I realized why I treasured photographs so much aaaaand why my mom was ALWAYS asking me, “Did you take a picture?” To my mom, each photograph she took was her way of creating our history. It was those captured memories which created a place of belonging and unity. My mom was forced to leave home and when she did, she left with one photograph. One. It was a school picture of her. To this day, I have no idea of what some of her siblings even look like. Crazy, right? When my husband and I were first together, I remember walking into my mother-in-law’s home for the first time and just standing in awe of all the vintage photographs on her wall….and then hearing the stories of who they were, how they related, etc. That would bore a lot of people , but I could have listened for hours.
So, fast forward a few years…my husband and I were married for a couple of years and I expressed my desire to “take pictures” with a zoom lens. I know, let’s hear it, “ooooooooo” ha! So, after pawning his favorite stereo system, he surprised me with the coolest Minolta camera, ever. Yep, I still have it! After capturing lots of images, as well as some beautiful flowers in Balboa Park, San Diego which I covered my daughter’s walls with, it started to become too expensive and difficult to develop film. So, on the shelf it went. However, since I am a creative at heart, I then focused on my dancing, writing, and event planning even more. Then enters the camera phone ~yep, me and my Motorolla Razr “What What!” hahaaaa! We were tight. Life sped up with littles and the camera phone kept up with the demands of Grandmas harping for photographs of their grandchilren . So, fast forward even more (this is where it gets good) I find myself having just had our fourth child and a close friend mentioned she needed some quick shots of her daughter who was graduating. (Here comes the good part) I told her I could take them for her (wait for it….wait for it….) using my CELL PHONE! mmmhmmm…I was “that” friend. Being the cool friend she is, she said “sure”! So, off we went. My first “photo shoot” and I had that poor girl climbing trees, laying down, sitting in the middle of the road…huh. Funny. So, maybe not a lot has really changed 😉 haha!!! Needless to say, she rocked it and I created a watermark. ha! After much prompting of friends and family and a few more iPhone photoshoots involving my children and a horse, I decided that may be I COULD do this for others…but maaaybe lose the iPhone. hehee. It wasn’t until I was talking with my oldest daughter one evening and telling her what I would love to do…what I would love to create, that made my decision. She asked me, “Then why don’t you, Mom? you just need to do it.” I realized then, that she was right. What or who was holding me back? Me. What or who was in my way of doing what I love? Me. What or who was keeping me from being creative? Me. So, I called my sister and asked her opinion about it and told her I was looking at cameras. Her response was quick and to the point, “Which camera?” After tons of research (my hubby is the research KING) and lots of going back and forth, I purchased a Nikon D5100. Yep, a cropped sensor that was on sale for $500…and I started photographing anyone who would let me and adopted a mantra of “Do it afraid!”
With that came loooong nights of researching, learning, studying, reaching out to other photographers, asking questions, apologizing for being such a bother, and dreaming… The funny part is, other than my gear and knowledge base, not a lot has changed. That’s why after a lot of pondering, I decided to offer mentoring workshops. It’s a way for others that are walking a similar journey to feel safe in asking questions and to leave feeling more knowledgable. I was asked recently, why I would want to share what I’ve done and aren’t I afraid of the competition. Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid, as there is something very valuable I have learned along my journey and that is that the ONLY competition which should exist is between the photographer you were today and the one you’ll be tomorrow because each day holds new opportunities. Competition is defined as: to try to get or win something (such as a prize or reward) that someone else is also trying to win : to try to be better or more successful than someone or something else. So, if you’re finding yourself competing with other artists I want to encourage you to ask yourself, “Why?”” What is it that you are trying to win? I then looked up the word “win” : to achieve victory in a fight, contest, game, etc. So, I have to ask, ” Why are you fighting?” Art is an outward expression of an inward emotion and all competing does is cloud that emotion. Often competition is sprouted from seeds of jealousy. It’s easy for jealousy to overwhelm you and overcome you. We have all been jealous at some point in our lives. It’s a feeling that can find it’s self growing in the most beautiful of places. It’s no respecter of persons and has the ability to take something beautiful and corrupt it. Friendships have been broken, wars have been started, and kingdoms have fallen all from the seed of jealousy. No one is immune to it. It’s what you do with that seed when it starts to sprout that really matters. Are you choosing to water it and cloud your vision or suffocate it to make room for your light to shine? I asked myself these same questions when I was first starting out. I found myself looking around at others work and attempting to do what they were doing. Sure it’s great to do your research and learn from others, but let it be an inspiration to learn skills so that you can have your own voice. This world is filled with imitations, what it needs is you…the original you with all your influences and the way YOU see the world. Find inspiration. Thankfully, the majority of clients I have had up to this point have been nothing bust trusting and allowing me to create, which has been a true joy. There will always be the Pinterest requests, but I can honestly say that even other photographers whom I’ve had the honor of photographing have trusted me to create and for that I’m so grateful, as that’s the heart of why I love what I do. It’s the relationships and creating images which tell your story. The majority of my clients I now consider my friends and I absolutely love it when I receive texts with photos of their newborn(s), notes of thanks in the mail, and even gifts that warm my heart. I feel blessed to be able to tell stories with my images….to be able to create an heirloom that is passed on for generations…to create a history. I encourage you to hang those images on your walls and make it a home…a place of belonging. Photographers, no matter where you are in your journey, embrace it. Remember that it’s a journey and not a fight to be won and your journey has the ability to influence. What influence will you be? The world needs to hear YOUR voice…and see YOUR heart…
Of course no post can happen without images 😉 Here’s a few images and what I shot it with…hopefully, it encourages you that you can shoot with anything..and most of all, in whatever your journey may be or where it’s taking you, remember that we ALL start somewhere.
May you find your voice,
follow your path,
do it afraid,
never stop learning,
and most importantly…NEVER give up!
Iphone 4: (used for only 2 shoots…unpaid)
Nikon D5100: (used for a little over the first year)
Cannon 5D Mark III: (currently using)
A HUGE thank you to those of you who believe in me. Thank you to my sister, The “A” Family, The “B” Family (ha!), and especially my daughter for believing in me in the beginning and put their words into actions. Your faith in me is never taken for granted. Thank you to the many friends and families who have trusted me with turning their sweet moments into beautiful memories. If it weren’t for you and for those who encouraged me to “Do it afraid.”, then I would not be on this journey….
..and for my Man. If it wasn’t for my husband, following my dream would be near impossible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.