Return to my First Love

Old Camera "Canon FTb" 1971
{Image from Flickr user Mihoko Ozaki}

I received my first SLR camera when I was 15 years old. My dad was cleaning out his closet when I saw his Canon FTb still in its original box. I begged him to let me have it and he obliged. The poor man didn’t realize it was the end of my would-be medical career and the beginning of a long love affair with photography. From that point forward, I immersed myself in photo classes. I took classes in my high school and through the gifted program. I became a photographer for the school newspaper and literary magazine. I was also fortunate enough to have had some of my photographs exhibited in Student Art Shows. Photography was the vehicle of self-expression that sustained me through my painfully awkward teenage years and kept me out of trouble.

{A Contact Sheet of my work circa 2000}

While in college, I decided to switch majors from biology to art. I wrestled with being a graphic design or photography major. In the end, I chose graphic design. I didn’t choose it because I loved it more, but because I knew that it was something I could do without getting quite so emotionally involved. My 20s were a time when I struggled to find my own voice and balance what I wanted for myself and the expectations of my family. At that time, photography was a deeply personal form of expression and escape. I’m also chagrined to admit that it was way for me to meet guys. What guy is going to say no to a cute girl asking him to model for her? My ploy wasn’t all that clever. I learned that it only brought me narcissists that were in love with themselves. Oh well! At least I had some fun;)

It was also during that time, that photography became the way I experienced life. Minute and magnificent moments have been captured by my different cameras. Photography was a constant in my life until the Summer of 2006. My Nikon D70 and all of its accompanying lenses were stolen. It was a blow and I was inconsolable. I took it as a sign that I was no longer meant to be a photographer. I took a sabbatical from photography… or so I thought.

Casio Exilim EX-Z1080 10MP Digital Camera with 3x Anti-Shake Optical Zoom (Black) 01 Front

Throughout my break, I still took photos, only I used a point-and-shoot camera. It was an challenging and humbling experience. It forced me to really focus on composition and lighting. It was also a reminder that my camera is merely a tool. It was still up to me to decide what is captured and how it is lit. It came to a point where the poor little point-and-shoot couldn’t keep up with me. I finally bought a digital SLR last summer.

In the year since that purchase, I’ve been photographing as though my life depended on it. In some ways, my life does depend on it. The more I shoot, the more I realize how much I’d missed it. In the midst of this rediscovery, my best friend Cicely and my dear photographer friends Pamela and Neleh have been insisting that I consider shooting professionally. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been shying them off for months with the excuse that I’m only shooting “for fun”. After the last couple of months of shooting, I have to admit they were right. I take my work too seriously for it to be simply just “for fun”.

My photography is now a part of my professional repertoire. I am in the process of finding my specific style and niche. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I am NOT getting into wedding photography. I shot a few weddings in the past and am convinced that it is definitely not the best avenue for my creativity. I have much love and respect for people in that industry, but I know it is not the best fit for me. For now, I’ll be shooting a lot of portfolio work in order to better refine my style. I look forward to displaying that work alongside my design projects on The Paper Stylist blog.

It’s feels good to know that my first love never left me; it just took a seat on the sidelines.

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4 thoughts on “Return to my First Love

  1. i just ran into a few of those prints on your contact sheet while i've been cleaning my office 🙂 my nails were awesome back then. and i laugh when i see these shots because i remember how controversial they were when my parents saw them. "no mom, i was not naked. my bra straps were down."on the real though… i'm glad we can all be there for each other to keep the light of creativity shining bright… not to mention turning off the lazy bone switch and get 'er done!love ya girl 🙂

  2. I'm glad you finally told your love story with photography. I hope that it helps others to see that you can take a break from something your passionate about and return to it with gusto! I've been really grateful for your friendship these past two years. You were there to confide in when I was in school 60+ hours a week, ready to talk Dektol and hypo-clear. You have always been so supportive of me and continue to inspire me. You force me to step outside my comfort zone and to always remember my humble beginnings and the blood, sweat, and tears I shed in the studio, the darkroom, at the counter of A&I, and in front of my computer. Today, I'm thrilled to see your eyes light up not because I'm telling you about school or my own recent shoots, but because you're right there next to me. Thank you for the honor of being part of your official return to photography, but more than that, thank you for being my friend.

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