Having a Career You Love

Inspiration

My parents wanted me to have a practical career. Something stable, with normal business hours and a steady salary. And then when I was twelve, my mom handed me a camera to take to a concert, and that concept went promptly out the window. Luckily for me, throughout high school and college, my parents realized that my passion for image making wasn’t going anywhere, and they were not only supportive but insanely helpful in making sure I had opportunities to develop and cultivate my craft. They helped me get my first photography internship, and agreed that I should study photography in college. 

Fast forward five years and I’m living the dream in Manhattan. And by “living the dream” I mean I work three part time photography jobs, often work nights and weekends, and haven’t slept since February. But guess what? I love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s the most rewarding career I could have imagined for myself.

I’ll be honest: having a career you love is hard. You’re 100% invested. You live and breathe it every day. You wake up thinking about it and answer those last few emails before bed at the end of the day. It’s not going to be the easy route, because the hustle is just as important as the passion. That whole “Get a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life” phrase is quite honestly garbage. I have to work hard day in and day out to further my career, and all the weight and responsibility of that is solely on my shoulders. It’s intimidating, but that makes it even more rewarding when there are successes. 

If you are ready for a challenge, if you’re ready to get to work, if the unpredictability excites you, then take the leap and go for it. Lately my office has been in a Chicago airport, the Rocky Mountains, a coffeeshop in Manhattan, a farm in Missouri, and who knows where else in the world I might be. There’s not a lot of stability, and there are no guarantees, but it’s what I love. It takes a lot of work and a lot more self discipline, but the challenge is part of the excitement. So get out there and make that dream a reality. I promise it will be worth it.

I Like Photography Because It’s Perfection

Inspiration

In a boundless world full of life and people and action and movement happening in an endless constant every instant, my task feels simple: fill a 2 x 3 rectangular frame, and capture. It’s entirely my choice what to fill it with, and the possibilities are delightfully endless. You can add–or subtract–anything your heart desires. Color. Contrast. Intense, sharp drama. Sparkle. Beauty. Excitement. Sweet, nuanced emotion.

When you’re holding the camera, you’re in charge, which means you have complete control of the orthogonally shaped box where 22.3 Megapixels will be swiftly preserved in multitudinous quantities. I painstakingly pick what’s special and what sits inside my picture. I create the rules. I choose the light, the tone, the angles and the presence or absence of any and all form. Then, later, I alter and meddle until it’s exactly what I want, until it’s precisely how I envisioned it in my head. It can be an exhaustive undertaking.

I’ve done it for so long that it’s now familiar on an instinctual level; I know how I prefer the smallest details in minute ways I could never verbally convey. It’s ambling into a room and surveying the light like it’s a tangible object. It’s immediate, automatic previsualization for composition and the slight, specific angles I hold the camera, in a manner that doesn’t even always make sense to me–but sometimes you just know, and it just feels right. It’s the way I can work my Canon with my eyes closed (and, once, inebriated, but I’ll save that story for later).

I drag the bundle of pixels into Photoshop and begin my surgery. Observe the mess and mayhem. Begin work. Spot remove the imperfections. Adjust the color balance, smooth things out. Scrutinize. Carve out the important pieces; let the rest melt away. Make it clean. Precise. Intentional.

I find an absolute perfectness in the chaos of it all: the way the human face and figure will never be exactly symmetrical. How ordinary light can create enchanting and extraordinary photographs. The way nothing can be replicated ever again. The feeling you get when all the elements come together faultlessly and are captured exactly as you envisioned.

The odds of getting a flawless, immaculate shot are almost none, and yet I still wake up every day in search of another, no matter how elusive. It’s an art form of creation not quite like anything else, and it’s become a part of who I am. And for a girl in a constant strive for perfection, sometimes, during brief moments of magic, she achieves it, and contained within the lines, according to her, is something beautiful. Something perfect.

Why I Do This Photography Thing

Inspiration

Usually I focus on writing about tips and techniques within photography, but with my college career culminating this year, I have been thinking a lot lately about why I even got into this in the first place. And the truth is, I fell into it.

I picked up my parents point and shoot camera, like many kids do, in middle school. I remember it was summer, and I took a photo of a lady with a white sun hat that had blue beads that matched her blue shirt. She was looking away, and I clicked the button. I gasped when I saw it, without even realizing that I shot my first portrait. When I showed it to my mom, to my dismay, she scolded me for taking photos of a stranger. She didn’t see what I saw: the beauty captured within that moment.

Moments. That’s really what it all boils down to, for me. I capture moments, sometimes insignificant and easily forgotten, sometimes grand and gorgeous. I look for things that other people might miss, for moments in life that carry emotion, and connection, to other human beings. That’s what I love about shooting portraits, whether it’s weddings, seniors, or just a candid of a stranger in the park. 

On days like today, when I have a long day of my internship, then night class, then Photoshop homework, then answering emails, setting up shoots, and applying to grad school, I try to remind myself why I do this. It’s for those moments. They keep me going.