“Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for.”
When I started photography I was shooting 100% for myself; even when I was in school studying photography I got to shoot for myself within the assignments. For my senior thesis I combined my love of women studies and photography and did a project on women and their perception of their body image. Looking back on those images I see them as total crap that lacked any skill and creativity but I remember the feelings I had when I was working on them, I was alive and feeling truly inspired. I adored photographing women and wanted to do it full time… but that wasn’t going to allow me to provide for our family so we opened a wedding studio.
This past year has actually been a great year for our wedding studio. I won second place in an international print competition (from WPPI), earned 7 Accolades of Excellence from WPPI, and was given two Fearless Awards for two of my images. By the industry’s standards that is pretty freaking good. I never dreamed that I could earn that many awards in one year. It thrills me and humbles me at the same time. Even with those awards I still felt like part of me was trying to break free and speak. For the past couple of years I’ve felt my inner creative side dying. I absolutely love photographing weddings and I’m so thrilled that I get to be an artist for a living! But at the same time part of me was not being fulfilled. On weddings days I have to shoot 100% for my clients, it is their day and they hired me to document it in the best way possible. When I’ve gotten all the “safe” shots at weddings, I try and get a few that push me as an artist but a lot of times we are really rushed with the timeline and I get about 3-4 minutes to push myself. And that is perfectly ok, I was hired to give my clients similar work that is in my portfolio. Over the past 5 years we got so busy with weddings that I forgot to shoot for myself.
I wanted to feel that rush again when I created photography. I wanted to go into a personal shoot and have inspiration and feel like my vision really came to life. I’ve been shooting women in a fine art form for a little over a year now and while I really love what I’ve been able to create for these women, it felt a little forced and not 100% me. I would get frustrated after each shoot as I looked through the images cause something just wasn’t right, even though my clients loved them and one image earned me an Accolade of Excellence. It made me want to stop shooting for myself. I wanted to just focus on weddings and forget about photographing women. This slow death of my creative side started to take over other parts of my life and I wasn’t aware of it until recently when I realized I was starting to struggle with depression. I had no clue how big an impact my art had on my every day life…
Last week I finally shot and felt alive again. I’ve been envisioning this shoot for some time now but I really didn’t believe in myself to make it happen. I felt like I was lacking the vision and skill to do it well. I put really high expectations on myself and I hate failing at things I try. I put this shoot off for a long time and last week I finished making the dress for the shoot and decided that I need to just bite the bullet and go shoot. Boy am I glad I did! The day of the shoot I was full of nerves and anxiety and almost backed out of it but I knew my model was spending time getting her hair and makeup done so I couldn’t let her down. We shot and honestly I left a little disappointed because I had envisioned the shoot with extremely moody skies and the day we shot it was full on sunny. I really felt like I hadn’t been able to capture the mood I wanted. I started editing the images and I loved the subject but I felt stuck with the overall feel of the images and started to hate them and myself. I mean, really? I wanted to cry. Like big baby tears. Philip and I had a really busy and rough month so this was just the icing on the cake and I had enough. So I pitched an internal fit and decided to give up. I went to bed that night and talked with Philip about my frustrations and desire to give up. Being who he is, he wasn’t about to let me give up and he promised to do whatever he needed to do to help me achieve my vision.
Philip does all our editing for our weddings and I was clueless to my lack of knowledge in the editing world. For a full day Philip sat down and worked with me on two images. As we worked together I saw my vision coming to life before my eyes. For the first time in a very long time I was able to finish an image like I wanted! What was in my head was now on a screen. And I felt the weight of my depression and frustrations start to lift a little off my shoulders. At the same time I felt extremely connected to my husband. We are together 24/7 since we work and live together. We collaborate on our business together but at the same time we have different roles within the business. This day we were working together and MY vision slowly became OUR vision as we worked. He is a very patient man and I saw his love for me in that he was so willing to give up his time to help me follow after my dreams. He has always been behind me 150% and once again he showed me how devoted he was to helping me. It might sound silly but getting past this creative block was liberating for me. I saw a little bit of old self coming back to life. As we worked on the following two images I saw my vision for this shoot come to life and at the same time I saw a bigger vision forming, a long term project that I can see myself getting excited about (more on that later)! I finally felt like I was getting my artistic voice back. It made me want to fight for my art again.
For this shoot I wanted to tell the story of a dark and stormy woman; a woman who is struggling to find the good within but her nature is rooted in evil. This quote was one that I was thinking about as I shot and we edited:
“What if they didn’t call me the evil queen, would you have thought me as an angel?”