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How I Became A Photographer

- May 19, 2018 -

 

 

I would love to share my story with you about how I fell in love with photography. Would you like to hear it? I hope you can relate to my fears and struggles as I navigated my business aspirations. I hope to hear from you as you read this story. Leave comments if anything resonates with you.

I have wanted to be a photographer since high school, but I was scared. Everyone received a 20-minute speech before picking it up. I was scared that I would break the camera just by touching it or I would ruin it forever if I touched any of the numerous buttons. I had no idea how to synchronize the flash and camera together. I still struggle with that because I never use a flash. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was doing. So I never picked up the schools’ camera in high school. It wasn’t until I realized that if I worked hard enough I could buy my own.

So that is exactly what I did. I worked hard in school, finished early and went to work on a local pumpkin farm. I was 16. The pumpkin farm and homework filled my time. Still no camera. Work. Work. Work. Finally, I saved enough money to buy my very own camera. Like I said before, the schools’ camera was terrifying and confusing so I researched user-friendly cameras (at the library because we didn’t have computers or smartphones at home. I’m old I know!) and I decided on a Canon Rebel Xti. They are discontinued now but I still remember that first purchase feeling.

My heart was pounding as I walked through the doors of our local Best Buy. My mom was with me, she didn’t know anything about the camera I would be buying that day. She just said “Well, we are here. You have been talking about this forever. Just get it.” She had no idea the work I put into researching which camera I wanted, the best possible deal I could get, the nervous energy coursing through me as I walked to the camera aisle, but I did. It’s funny looking back now because I have so many more resources at my fingertips now then I did then. I was nieve, but still, I made a good choice. I reached out and held it in my hand for the first time. I felt so unworthy.

 

I felt so unworthy because I could research and read the manual all day but that didn’t make me a good photographer. I needed to try and that is a scary thing. That is when fear sets in and all the questions that come along with it. What if I worked so hard for nothing? What if I am terrible and no one wants to buy my photos? What if I never learn how to use it properly? Or worse, what if someone asks me to take their photos? Questions and doubts flooded my mind. So instead of listening to them. I set out to take photos I liked.

What type of Photography did I like? I hadn’t thought of that question until I help my Canon in hand. I never had the opportunity to ask that question because if I took photos at school it would obviously be portraiture. People pictures. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do that. So I subscribed to an Outdoor Photography magazine because from little on up I loved the outdoors. It just made sense. That is when I decided my dream was to work for National Geographic.

Only one thing rivals my love for photography and that is travel. So it made sense to combine those two loves and be a National Geographic Photographer. The only problem? Isn’t my field of expertise. How in the world was I going to get paid to do something I loved with my whole heart? The thought of accomplishing this dream was daunting. I once saw a National Geographic Photographer at Navy Pier in Chicago. I was so scared of making a fool of myself I just quietly watched him work in awe of his photography skills. Of course, he was capturing way better images then I would ever be able to take. But you know what friends? I didn’t even try. I will never know because I didn’t introduce myself. Be brave. Be bold. Don’t do what I did. Try!

I can’t believe I just admitted to you that I didn’t try! You would think with my dream job happening right in front of me I would cease this opportunity with both hands! However, God was calling me elsewhere for a reason I wasn’t even aware of yet. I was headed to Rosedale Bible College. I only spent one year there but you would be surprised what can happen in one glorious year. I could go into many details but I will stick to the subject of photography. I enrolled in a night marketing class given by the President of Rosedale. Here is where I found my business. Here is where I put pen to paper. Here is where it all began.

Not only was I in love with this class it was the beginning of the beginning for me. One of my besties was in this class. The professor was chill. It was heaven. Here I made a business plan. I priced out my photography package options. I ate chocolate and laughed with friends while doing homework I loved! Classmates found out about my passion for photography and encouraged me to be on the yearbook staff. I already had a camera. Unquestionably, I brought my Canon which I had fondly named Sam. I became photography yearbook editor on a staff with two other photographers. That is how I met @charitymaurer and we became fast best friends. One chilly morning at Rosedale we looked outside our windows to find that a huge ice storm had blown through overnight!

Charity and I jumped at the chance to take photos of everything blanketed in ice. That was my very first photoshoot. I will never forget rushing around my room to find warm clothes, grabbing my camera and running out the door to take photos. I still have the same exuberant, excited, nervous, energetic love for photography as I did back then. After the ice melted our photo opportunities became slim, sometimes we would go into the city and take photos but college students are poor, in case you didn’t know, so we stuck around campus for the majority of the time. However, we had a job to do. We were yearbook photographers. I was so nervous taking portraiture that I started taking photos of the guys playing football.

Yes. I started with sports photography. I actually hate sports photography. No lie. I don’t have anything against athletes or the people who photograph them I just wasn’t born for that job. However, it allowed me to frame a photo and take all the time I needed to set the lighting, exposure, and shutter speed. No one was waiting for me to create a beautiful photo. I could go at my own pace. The guys played every Saturday so of course, I was out there every Saturday too. Pretty soon it came easier to me. I found my sweet spot. That’s when one of the guys asked to see the photos I took. This was the first time anyone had ever asked to see my work.

He loved it. He asked his friends to come check it out too and pretty soon I was scrolling through hundreds of photos. I was showing them all the crazy positions football can put a person in. It looks really hilarious on camera. They were asking for more. My editor asked to publish them in the yearbook. I was thrilled! This actually boosted my confidence. I started portraiture photography after these encouraging words but only for the yearbook. I was having fun with it though sharing my quirky personality just to make people smile. One day I was in the studio taking headshots of all the students and it was then that one of the students, who didn’t know me very well, asked a question.

“This was so much fun. Are you going to be a photographer and take pictures of people?”- he asked. I stood there with Sam in hand, mouth hanging half open. I had never thought I would be a portrait photographer. I thought I was just doing this until I could go traipse around the world taking photos for national geographic. Actually, get real Kim, more like take photos of farmland for tourists. In reality, my love of nature photography had never left and I thought that was my niche. But here I was with my world turned on its head over this question. The thing is, I felt God in that question. As soon as it left his mouth the answer inside my brain was “Yes, Yes that’s what I am going to do.” That’s what came out of my mouth. “Well, I wish you luck, you’re gonna be great.”- he responded.
“Ok”- I replied weakly, still dumbfounded by the idea.

 

Here I am 10 years later still just as in love with the craft as I was back then. Somedays, I still feel unworthy and scared but I just remember that God didn’t give me this passion and talent for no reason. I get to meet many beautiful, amazing people like you and I get to photograph and tell your story. There is no greater honor.

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"Photography for me is not looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures."

DON MCULLIN