I did it. I am one of those parents. I entered my kid in a modeling contest.
Ohhhhh my gawwwwwd. No really. Yes, I did it. It’s horrifying to admit. I think of Toddlers and Tiaras, and overbearing stage mommies pushing their kids to get modeling contracts so they can brag about it to all their friends. Now, in reality that probably represents a small fraction of the people out there who pageantry and modeling contests, but still. I was still embarrassed because it’s not really my style. And while I love my kid dearly, I didn’t enter it because I thought my child is some gorgeous specimen of toddlerhood, either. No. I did it for the photography gig that goes along with it.
Which, in and of itself, makes me chew my nails down to the quick and want to fling myself out my living-room window (don’t worry, the fall is short). I mean, why did I actually go and enter that thing? Is this what I really want? Am I now viewed as one of the dreaded “momtographers”, publicly throwing my hat in the ring like that? I mean, I’m not stupid. I can read, and the disgust in the pro photography community for “mommy fauxtographers” is vicious. And I consider several amazing, successful photographers, both in Lawrence and KC, to be aquaintances and some even good friends of mine. Will they see me this way, I have to wonder; did I lose their respect? Is my credibility totally shot?
I feel the need to defend myself. I feel like, in reality, I am not that different than any of them. While this thing called life is going on, my camera is usually faithfully by my side. I adore photography, everything about it, I have since I first picked up an SLR in my high school yearbook class. I love to shoot. I love the challenge of a tricky lighting situation. I pore over photography blogs and forums, and I enjoy playing with different filters and layering effects. While driving in the car find myself contemplating how cool a building or area would be for a shoot, or how great the light is at that moment. Sometimes I wake up in the morning only to realize I was dreaming about framing a shot or editing a photo.
I have learned more about ISO, lighting, lenses, and filters then I ever thought possible. Our household budgeting includes adding money to a camera “slush fund” on a weekly basis, to feed my habit. And I am never going to stop craving to learn more. I know there is no Perfect in photography, and I want to just learn learn learn and get better Better BETTER. A few weeks ago I sat alone in my living room on a chilly rainy evening, streaming the latest Jasmine Star workshop seminar on the laptop. I heard the passion in her voice and listened to her words, and I felt like she was describing everything I feel on the inside.
But I hesitate when I think of trying to start a business. Because there’s a little guy tugging on my skirt and begging me to play choo-choos. Because I also love my ‘day job’. Because there’s a complicated new cake recipe I’m dying to tackle. I want to dawdle at the Farmer’s Market, and I enjoy waking up on a Saturday knowing our day is clear of any obligations, and I love a long dinner followed by a movie in a dark theater, cozied up next to my husband. Because while I’m sure it’s fulfilling and amazing to make money off of your passion, I also know that it is also incredibly time-consuming and I am not at a point in my life where I want anything to do with that.
Given all that, every last bit of that – last week, Knuckleheads Clothing opened a contest to their fans, to send in photos on Facebook and accumulate votes for a chance to not only have your child model, not only get hundreds of dollars in their fantastic clothing line, but also for the mom to take all the lovely pictures herself. I wanted it, not for the clothes or the modeling but the photography, my god – yes, I want that. So I hemmed, and I hawed. I brought it up to Scott, and he told me to do what I wanted. Which: thanks, darling, I am asking for your opinion because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT IS. Ahem, not his fault I guess. But in all seriousness: to pass up a chance is to fail outright, yes? So I decided to go for it.
The next day after work we went downtown and I spent some time shooting Pete. Peter was WIRED that afternoon so he was basically a nonstop bundle of energy. Running! Jumping! Squealing! Chase, me, mommy, go go go! (With a side of I-just-realized-how-awesome-hands-in-pockets-are,-so-now-I-do-so-constantly-and-it-drives-my-mom-bonkers.) So yeah, anyhoo – I let him run amok, his doggie in tow – through the alleys and down streets and then a short stop into the record store, to check out the cats. I knocked out some shots and then we headed home.
I entered him in the contest that very evening. He’s got a decent amount of votes, but I doubt we’re going anywhere in that contest (I mean there are literally hundreds of entries, with hundreds of votes, and to say we will never catch up to most of them is an understatement). But you know, I’m okay with that, I really am. Entering that contest set things in motion for me, finally; I’m not afraid to put my stuff out there anymore. I am not terrified of what people will think of me, in fact I don’t care what they think of me. I’m not the dreaded mommy-photographer-wannabe. I’m not an entrepreneur either. I’m just me, and while I’m not getting paid for it I am still passionate about it and always will be.
And it’s nice to finally admit that.