Like most people, I wasn’t born with a camera in my hands.
When I was 10 years old my family moved to a new house. In the move, I found a treasure trove of old polaroids and 4×6 prints hidden away in two identical Winnie the Pooh boxes. I was amazed at how much of a story they told. I got to see my father’s reaction as my mother walked down the aisle in her wedding dress. I saw my uncles in the 70s dressed up like Michael Jackson, white glove and all. I saw my sister and I playing with Skip Its at my cousin’s birthday party. Those photos were a window to my own life and everything that made it what it is, from the people that came before me to the ones I was growing up with.
You know that saying about walking through a door and instantly forgetting what you went into the room for? That’s me navigating nearly every interaction in day to day life. Luckily, at 27, I’ve built up quite a few systems to help me hold it together. I have a calendar for work and for home, a billion post it notes, and three notebooks I carry with me everywhere.
I also have at least one camera with me everywhere I go now. This was a habit I developed after seeing the lives of everyone I cared about played out in photos. And from watching my Dad walk around with his own camera.
The ‘90s, the era in which I was born and raised, were the heyday for amateur photographers. Digital cameras were on the horizon, but film cameras were much more accessible and more popular amongst families. The same could be said about video technology, too. Those were the days when you’d be watching a taped episode of “The Price is Right” and half way through a birthday party would start.
My Dad had a Minolta QTsi, little silver SLR with a 35mm – 80mm zoom lens and a pop-up flash. That thing captured a lot of memories and still is completely operational twenty years later.
My first camera was a point and shoot camera. I have no recollection of. My second one, though, I remember vividly. It was a 0.3 megapixel credit card sized camera from Oregon Scientific. I remember ordering it from a catalog when I was in 8th grade and bringing it to Washington DC during a school field trip.
The photos were tiny and it wasn’t very durable, but the rush of taking a photo and not knowing how it came out was what made that camera even more appealing.
Fast forward to my senior year of college. I saw my sister developing into a great photographer herself. She inspired me to rekindle my love for freezing moments of time. I took a Forensic Photography class and started to learn more about manual camera settings, completely changing everything I thought I knew about photography. Even though there isn’t room for artistic expression in photographing crime scenes, it gave me the ability to experiment more.
We did get to trash classrooms to create mock crime scenes, though. So, I guess that’s a form of artistic expression.
I started taking photos of everything and anything around me. (You can see some of my really old stuff here) I did photos for our Sports Information department. I chased my sister all around the country, documenting her high school basketball career. I worked a few parties for some friends. I was starting to develop my skillset.
But, it wasn’t until two years ago when I really started to develop my vision and felt comfortable with sharing it. Art is personal, vulnerable, and brave. Especially when you’re a dreamer — sometimes, it’s difficult to put that dream out there into the world. Photography is more to me than just a hobby. It is an extension of me, my thoughts, and my heart. If I’m not taking photos, I feel like I’m neglecting a piece of myself.
How do you express your creative energy?