In 2012 I earned my BA in photography. I had done it. It was a tumultuous four years, and it took half my college career to find what I truly wanted to do. This is my story of finding this passion, losing it, and re-discovering what I love.
I started out at Webster University in the fine arts department. In high school I had done much better in my art classes than in math or science, and I knew that’s how my brain operated, although I never felt like I excelled at any art form. I wanted to go to school to learn more, hone my craft, and let it guide me through my life. I had no idea what kind of career would come of it.
What I learned in this art school is that its not all about practicing my art, challenging myself to open myself up to new things and techniques. It was also about HAVING to try all the art forms offered, and many times the grades were based on teacher preference more than my progress and honing in of the skill. It was easy to say that I was becoming frustrated, lost, and not sure what to do.
That’s when I decided to take a photography class. Not just photography, but darkroom photography. Taking photos seemed to be the perfect fit for how I wanted to share my world with others. The camera felt like an extension of my arm, the resulting photographs an extension of my eyes, my mind, and my spirit. The darkroom became the place for me to have my time to myself. To escape the frustrations of the rest of my schooling, and just be there in the present with the process. I knew that mixing developer, stop bath, and fixer together for certain lengths of time would develop my film, and I knew exposing my images using one light in a completely dark room would forever imprint my vision.
After two years in the fine arts school I made the switch over to the photography department of the Communications school. This was it. I was hooked. Not only was I able to continue my darkroom photography practice, but I was able to take it a step further with being in the last ever color darkroom photography course offered there. It was magical! I was then introduced to digital, and studio photography. WOW! It was like we were meant to be. The lights, the backdrops, the infinite possibilities. The unlimited access to equipment I could never dream of owning at that point in my life. I still get the butterfly feeling in my stomach just thinking about it!
It was in this school that I also learned the basics of “running” my own photography business. By that I mean we were taught how to build basic websites, get business cards, fine tune our portfolios, etc. What I wish they would have taught us more about is marketing ourselves, and actually running a business – the day to day, finances, taxes, etc. None of that was discussed, and when I graduated I was instantly overwhelmed. It wasn’t just about taking photos anymore. It was about taking photos to please clients, deal with wedding parties, stressed parents, babies, gear rentals, payment, taxes, savings, paying myself (LOL), marketing myself, growing the business, and everything else that goes into being my own business. It was almost crippling, and I still relied on retail for income. I
I began to dread “going to work,” which turned into resentment, and wanting nothing to do with it. Of course there were upsides, but the overall experience was not a good one. So I put my camera down. I let the business dwindle away, and I became one of those mid-twenties women who worked multiple retail jobs to get by.
Then, I was given an opportunity that would take me down a path I never thought of. I was approached about working in the photography gallery at Webster! The trick was that it was a graduate position, and I had to be a current student in graduate school. So that was is! I was back in school working in the photo gallery doing community outreach work as well as being “that person” available for show hangings, show openings, social media, etc, and getting my MA in media communications.
In getting the degree in 2015 I knew I didn’t want to work for a corporation in marketing. That wasn’t my thing. I was still wanting to document and share and express. When I graduated I kept working for Apple (for a few years), and I do believe that this place pushed and challenged me in many ways that I hadn’t gotten from any other job, and I am forever grateful. All of these things combined have put me exactly where I am today. Some directly, some simply gave the tools and let me figure it out.
RWP is the perfect combination of these things – photography and written word. I’m slowly building my portfolio exactly how I want it, when, and where I want it. Someday I would love to have a business of creating content for small businesses, individuals, publications and even families. Whatever they’re wanting! Family photos, recipe books, websites, catalogs, look books, social media, etc. WHATEVER! As long as I’m able to work from the road so I can pack up and go whenever I get the itch. Of course I’ll still have my home in STL, but I would love to do a second round of fitting Gravity as a camper. And someday, I would love to write a book about my adventures and things I learned along the way, with accompanying photos from the road. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
I’m sure I have more to say on this – I could probably ramble on and on for hours, but for now I will leave it here. A little backstory with some dreams of the future. I will be slowly building up my freelance work again, and look forward to capturing moments in life for others 🙂 I hope you have a great week ahead, I would love to hear what dreams you have for your future!