I think I have always been a photographer, I just didn’t know it yet. I found my grandmother’s camera when I was 7 and never put it down. As I got older, I was always tearing out photos from National Geographic, Surfer Magazine, and Outside Magazine and hanging them on my wall.
I had one full wall covered with photos from top to bottom- it covered some awful wallpaper I had. Often, I would lay on my bed and stare at them and hope to make it to those places. At the time, I didn’t really know that you could be a photographer. I didn’t know what it entailed. I just knew I wanted to go experience the world and see all the cultures the earth had to offer.
When I was in 7th grade, the drama club offered a program that allowed us to go to Europe for two weeks. I begged and pleaded to go and with a lot of help from mom, dad, and grandparents, it was possible. I was ecstatic. I always had some sort of camera on me. On this trip, I had a 35mm automatic Marlboro camera that my grandparents got from the Marlboro miles (they quit long ago, phew). I took 10 rolls of film…and that wasn’t enough. That is what I spent most of my money on, haha. I ended up with 22 roles at the end of two weeks. I shot everything. At the time, I didn’t know what composition was or what rule of thirds was, or what the decisive moment was. I just photographed from the heart and what I thought was beautiful. When I got home and got my rolls developed, I had a couple of people tell me that I had a good eye.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, you have good composition and your images are pretty good for being 13.”
“What’s composition?” I asked naively.
They explained. It all made since. I did purposely set up my images, I just didn’t know it was called something. From then on, I was more aware of how I took images. I took photography class in high school. I was amazed by the darkroom. I really fell in love then. When I found out that my college had a photography department, I went for it.
I am still going for it. When I was 25 I made some long term goals that I am still in the process of achieving. I gave myself the goal of being published in National Geographic by the time I was 40. I am 30 now. I feel closer than ever. I feel more confident than ever. I have been in contact with three NG photographers and critiqued by one, John Stanmeyer. It was such an honor to have him take time out of his day to look at my work and talk to me about what was good and what needed nurturing. He has given me advice on how the magazine world works and some workshops that he suggest I take.
I really lost it when he told me that he could feel the essence in my photographs and he told me he felt I had it in me. All I have ever wanted to do was show people the world. I have always wanted to document peoples way of life. There are so many types of people in the world and a million ways to live it. I want to see it and show it.
With that being said, I can not wait to get back out to the Pacific Northwest and pour my heart into my images for my project Faceless, which is the project he critiqued. I will look for the unseen and really lose myself in the moment.
I truly believe that we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to. So dream big. No matter what it takes, no matter how broke you get trying to get there, no matter how many shit jobs you have to do to get there. It will all be worth it in the end. If you have the heart and the passion about something, just keep going, you will get noticed. I can’t wait to see where these next few years take me.