If you know me personally or if we have worked together, then you probably know how incredibly passionate I am about photography. For some people (who are around my age or older), perhaps they received their first film camera when they were in middle school and they've never looked back. For me, it's been a very non-traditional route to becoming a photographer. I grew up using point-and-shoot film cameras and I certainly took pictures constantly. I was always the friend with a camera with them and would print out photos to give to everyone. I always made sure to take pictures of my family members, especially my grandparents who I knew wouldn't be around forever. However, despite me taking pictures with probably hundreds of rolls of film, I never really took the time to fully understand the art of photography. I just snapped pictures without thinking much about it. Once digital cameras rolled around, I again took a lot of pictures (and started filming video clips as well of my travels, projects I did with students, etc.) but I still didn't understand how a camera really worked and what it was capable of. Flash forward a few years to about 2019 when I decided I wanted to start taking higher-quality videos and pictures of my two children. My sister passed away tragically in 2019 and she left me the little money that she had. I decided to use that money to purchase a camera. My sister was incredibly artistic so I knew she would have approved (and appreciated) that I got a camera. It was a very slow learning process for me. I had this fancy camera with all of these different settings and for the life of me, I could not figure out how to actually use it. So I had my camera on automatic for a very long time and was frustrated when my photos came out blurry or overexposed. So then I decided to take a few adult education classes to finally figure out how a camera worked and it was still SO HARD for me to figure it out. I almost felt like giving up, it felt too technical and too complicated and my brain could just not get it right. However, something inside of me told me I could figure it out, I just had to keep going. Thus began my process of eating, breathing, and sleeping everything photography. I think I borrowed every book the library had on photography, practiced as much as possible, and took several more classes at the college level in photography. And one day, it just clicked. A good friend of ours noticed how much of an interest I had taken in photography and he asked me if I would take pictures of his daughter for her senior photos. I was incredibly anxious (to say the least) to do it, but I accepted the offer and fell in love with the process of working with someone and helping them feel more comfortable, and also taking their picture. Despite my being a novice, the pictures turned out pretty good (if I do say so myself!) and I received a lot of positive feedback about the photos. At that moment, in my late 30s no less, I decided that I wanted to become a professional photographer. I had recently resigned from my job as an educator due to the significant needs of my children and because of the pandemic. It was like an omen- I could do something that I loved, continue working with people, and have a flexible schedule to accommodate the many appointments and needs of my children. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but apparently, that is not true! I always thought I would retire as a School Counselor, after all, I loved doing it. However, life had different plans for me and I fully embrace that. I sort of fell into taking photography seriously, a bit later in life, and I am beyond grateful that it happened.
Recently, I was working on a photography project in my hometown of Brunswick, Maine. The assignment was to take pictures of people that I don't know (with permission of course) and my interactions with the people that I took photos of were absolutely incredible and heartwarming. The first photo I took was with the gentleman in the above photo. He was leaving the beloved Bombay Mahal restaurant on Maine Street and I asked him if I could take his photo. His eyes were so striking and full of wisdom. I thanked him for allowing me to do this, after all, I put him on the spot. I then moved on to the Bohemian Coffee House (a staple in the Brunswick Community for over 25 years) where Vinnie a long-term employee agreed to me photographing him while he made a delicious caramel latte! I ended the project by asking the ever-present security guard outside of the Bank of America (also on Maine Street) if I could take his photo and he agreed with a smile and a hint of suspicion (in a good way!). These interactions led to conversations about photography, for example, a woman behind me at the coffee house asked me what kind of camera I had and she told me about hers. When I took some shots near the Taco the Town food truck, I started a conversation with a gentleman who is a retired photographer and his wife gave me a few chocolates for me and to share with my kids.
These positive and friendly interactions happen to me all of the time now that I am a photographer. Whether it's the wonderful clients that trust me to take their photos and they tell me all about their family, the kids who make me laugh when they run around during a session, or the elderly couple who wants to have their love captured in photos to share with their family for generations to come, photography has truly changed my life. I never envisioned becoming a photographer until my life shifted in many ways just a few short years ago. One of the best parts of being a photographer is the relationships and memories that have been created since my camera became a huge part of who I am. And I don't plan on slowing down anytime soon!