After taking a six-year hiatus from pursuing portrait photography, I have decided to return to what I love doing most - providing lasting memories by documenting relationships and connections.
In order for you to get a full view of who I am today and why I do what I do, I'm going to have to rewind quite a bit, and get really vulnerable and transparent. I am an introvert, so putting myself out there is incredibly terrifying. But sometimes you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to live more authentically in the pursuit of your dreams.
Photography has always been an interest of mine, but it wasn't until after college that I started to develop a real passion for it, and first had the realization that it could be a career option. When I first started my business I really dove right in, and it was completely consuming in both the best and worst ways.
I was full of passion and excitement, loving that I was able to pursue this fulfilling career, but I started to allow too much of my identity to get wrapped up in being a photographer. I was completely self-taught, and felt like a total fraud. The business side of things was new, complex, and overwhelming. I started to question if I could juggle all of the responsibilities of running a business, and if I was even good enough. Self-doubt and comparison started to fill my mind. The fear of failure started to grow. And not just any old failure, mind you, but failing at a newly discovered passion that I felt was my true calling. This was huge!
After being in business part-time for almost two years, I moved from the Chicago suburbs to Houston. I was so overwhelmed with starting in a new city where I didn't know many people and those doubts, fears, and insecurities magnified even further and absolutely paralyzed me.
I didn't put myself out there and started creeping to a place of security. I got a part-time job with steady income. Gradually, I shifted from a place of wanting to grow my own business, to focusing more on just survival. I decided to go full-time at my other job and started working more and more hours there.
I'm going to be real honest here. On the outside, I tried to play it off like everything was fine. But the first year or two of working full-time there was one of the darkest periods of my life. I was living paycheck to paycheck, barely surviving, miserable, and above all just overwhelmed that my life was not heading in a direction I wanted it to go. And I felt stuck. I battled depression and numerous other health issues. I started to shrink back and shrink back until I realized I was no longer even in a place where I could give clients the attention and quality of service that they deserved. So I stopped trying altogether. I turned down inquiries that came my way, saying I was unavailable. Because you can't fail at something you don't even try, right? :\
I kept telling myself that eventually I'd get back to pursuing photography ... someday. But the longer I stayed at my full-time job, the more my time and energy went towards that. It's easy to get lost in the day-to-day and the comfort of security, to a point where you're just floating along. When you exist in a space that just isn't right for you, and you know it in your gut, it begins to eat away at you and can be completely draining. I developed patterns of thinking with a closed mindset. I stopped dreaming. I was bitter and resentful, and wasn't proud of the life I was living. And worst of all, I stopped loving myself. As a result, I stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship for far too long.
Surprisingly, that experience has become a great blessing in disguise. After going through another one of the absolute darkest periods of my life, it was the biggest wake-up call that I desperately needed to change and take back control of my own life. This hasn't been an easy, or overnight process; it has taken some time.
But in the process of recovering from that experience, I slowly built myself back up and started taking better care of myself - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I have rediscovered who I am and what I truly value in life.
Most people who know me would probably describe me as pleasant, happy, and easygoing, and while that is my true nature, I feel it is important to share my personal struggles and shed light into some of what I have experienced under the surface. These struggles have made me the person I am today - one with a renewed sense of purpose, passion, values, and true contentment.
The more I worked on myself and my awareness of my own thoughts and how they were affecting my moods, I learned to change them, and my life, for the better. Through practicing gratitude and meditation on a regular basis, I discovered I could still be truly happy despite any external circumstances. In the past couple of years I have gotten a lot better at accepting life as it is, but I have also gotten better at listening to my intuition.
Ultimately, we do have the power to be happy despite whatever obstacles life may throw our way, BUT we also have the power and freedom of choice! To decide the life we want to live...to pursue our dreams...to listen to the voice within us.
Sometimes our lives take us on detours, and while these can be incredible learning experiences, there is no greater feeling than finding yourself back on your own path.
So here I am. Not just a photographer, but one who values preserving memories, cherishing our loved ones, enjoying the little things in life, and treating people with respect, love, and kindness. A photographer who is also a big dreamer, trying to push outside personal comfort zones in order to be more of a doer. A photographer who values positivity, encouragement, and building others up. A photographer who values truth and vulnerability in exposing quirks, flaws, struggles and strengths - all of the characteristics that make us human. And most importantly, a photographer overcome with a sense of gratitude for this journey, and the people who have and will join me in this experience.