End of Year Wrap Up – 2014

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2014 was… well, unpleasant. Sucked the life out of me sometimes, to be honest. And we’ll just leave it at that, because lotsa peeps I know had way, way worse this year, and truthfully: life deals us all a lot of crap. You gotta keep your perspective, and in the fine words of my wise friend Wooderson, You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.

And no worries, we are all healthy and no, we are not getting divorced and no, no one did anything salacious or illegal or anything that would be in any way any decent gossipy fodder (you know me, you guys; I would not keep the good gossip from you, because I mean: duh, I love gossip myself).

But hey! One major bright spot of this year, for sure, is that I finally felt comfortable in my own skin, photography-wise.

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When we lived in Kansas I had a few photographer friends and several I would consider acquaintances. They all had thriving businesses and were all so knowledgeable and confident and well: just very cool, awesome people. I joined a few area photography groups online, full of even more professional photographers. I went to seminars and workshops and I listened to online interviews with all those biggies in the Industry and my goodness, I just ate it all up.

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They had lots of opinions, too. You are just an amateur, hobbyist at best, until you get paying work. Moms with a camera are just foofy inexperienced wannabes. If you have any talent, you would be running a business. And maybe they didn’t say some of those things in so many words (the mom-tographer hate, though – I softened that up you guys, the vitrol is much worse towards ‘those’ women in the industry). And thanks to those opinions, slowly but surely, I felt a deep desire to be one of them. I shot like they taught me to shoot, and I edited like they all said to edit, and I focused on the style they all told me to focus on. And I was resentful that I was still considered a “mom-tographer”, and I felt I needed to prove myself, so I dived head-first into starting a business to prove something. I mean, just read this thing. Thinly veiled self-hatred and defensiveness galore, YEESH.

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And then, we moved to Wisconsin. I was starting fresh and in more ways than one, all that photo business stuff got put on hold. And you know what? The nagging voice in the back of my head went away. It took many months, but it happened. I got to the point where I didn’t really care what other photographers were saying, not in the least. I didn’t care that I didn’t carry that coveted title of “professional photographer”. I just wanted to shoot and enjoy it.

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I have enough self-assurance now to know that just because I don’t sell my work, it doesn’t mean I’m a bumbling amateur or casual hobbyist. It doesn’t mean my photos are amateurish junk or that what I am doing is meaningless. For once, I feel content and assured in what I am doing, and it is back to being a pure joy in my life. Do I still have a lot of learning to do? Certainly. So much, really. But I’m happy and excited to grow, and that’s important.

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Letting go of these personal hang-ups allowed me to really appreciate new photographers as well, since my nose wasn’t buried in portrait/wedding photography blogs. I discovered Cass Bird. Nicole Franzen. Sarah Kiesling. Gillian Laub (UW grad, hollah!). I went back to the work of people I liked previously but put aside, people like Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, and Leo Fuchs (had to throw a token dude in there, because well: Paul Newman).

Anyway. It took me a few years to get to that point, I think. And now that I’m there, I am setting new goals. So look out, 2015, I’m coming for you. Here’s where I’m going this year:

– shoot for Black and White
– more mood and depth
– less photos, more quality

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And blogging wise, I am going to change things up and blog events/shoots rather than weekly updates. It flows so much better, and will help me to be more creative. (Plus, it means my Sunday evenings will not be completely shot to shit like they are now, as I spend hour upon hour culling/editing/writing OH LAWDY MAKE IT STOP.)

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So I guess there it is, my New Years post. Pretty different from past years, but whatever I’m going with it. Here’s to a happy New Year to all, may it bring good things to all of us!

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