I remember loving to look through my moms old photo-albums when I was growing up. I loved peeling the clear protective paper off the sticky background and arranging the photos on the pages as I memorized faces. I remember thinking how beautiful my moms smile was when she was young, I looked so much like her. I remember giggling at how big my dads beard was in the early 80's, and how I loved to nuzzle into his neck (big beards oddly made a come-back in the past few years). There were albums full of baby photos of me and my sister; some perfect, some blurry with a yellow tint. Film was cool like that. It encouraged us to print our photos; ALL our photos, even the ones that wouldn't end up in frames. I got a kick out of going through the old boxes of photos that didn't make the cut, the ones that would never grace the pages of the photo albums. I remember holding up the negative strips to the light to see the bits and pieces of our everyday life and being in awe that something like that could be captured; it was magic. Like most families, the photos of our family started to dwindle after my youngest sister was born and even more as my parents headed towards a divorce. I can remember collecting photos for myself, hoarding them as if I knew things would never be the same again. Even at a young age I knew I didn't want to loose those memories.
As I got older, we moved a lot. Each time we moved we lost more and more of our stuff. Either it got left behind, or put into a storage unit, never to be seen again. I remember being very protective of the boxes of photos and the old photo albums. I basically claimed them as my own; a deep need to save those fleeting memories was set so deep in my heart that I began to document everything in my life and those around me. I started writing in a diary and taking photos of everything. My plan was to put everything in a box so after I died people would be able to tell my life story...I was a weird 9 year old lol. I remember buying film in bulk and loading it into the tiny Kodak camera that I would borrow from my mom. In 5th grade, disposable cameras were all the rage and I remember getting them for my birthday and Christmas and saving up all my money to buy these cameras so I could document my life. My poor siblings were subject to special "photo-shoots" I would do. I would also practice a lot on myself before "Selfies" became a thing. I never left home without a camera in my purse. 99% of all the family photos we have now are probably ones I've taken because I just refused to be without those memories. As for professional photos, well, you either got super fancy and went to Olan Mills, or hit up the local JC Penny's or Walmart. The type of professional photos you see today were reserved only for weddings or grand events. Normal family photos didn't rank high enough on the scale to drop that kind of money.
So, as time progressed, I looked for ways to do what I loved. I took photos for my 6th grade yearbook, my Junior High yearbook and ended up being an editor of my High School yearbook, all because of my love for taking photos and documenting moments. In High School I got to roll my own film in a dark closet. I loved it. I would roam the campus taking candid's and feeling important. I would then get to take that film and use the negatives to develop each and every photo that would go into our yearbook. I remember my hands smelling like solution and my eyes adjusting to the dark glow of red lights as I turned film into a tangible photo that would serve as a memory that every student would be able to look back on and remember good ol' Chino High. I got to be a part of that; I got to make something that would last long after I'm gone. It was an incredible feeling. For a few months, I aspired to be Anne Geddes and took naked baby photos of my cousin in big floral bonnets. That didn't last long, as I discovered I didn't have the patience to deal with babies (not at the age of 16 anyways). I then switched to "fashion" photography, which really just consisted of a bunch of my high-school girlfriends (and sisters) trying on clothes and hats and posing for the camera. ha-ha.
Once college came, my Business Degree had my striving towards bigger goals.....corporate size goals with a large paycheck attached to them. I never once considered photography as an option for my profession. The world tells us that in order to be successful you have to do good in school, get a good corporate job so you can afford your big house and nice cars and fancy things. So, I put aside my creative aspirations and I jumped on the "American Dream" bandwagon. I spent the next 6 years going to school and doubling up my work hours between corporate temp-jobs and Starbucks. I remember in 2006 I got my first digital camera as a Valentines Day gift from my new boyfriend (current husband). I developed my last roll of film from my disposable camera and entered the world of digital photography. It was so exciting to have unlimited amounts of photo-taking opportunities and as my computer filled up with images, my tangible prints dwindled. Instead of printing my photos in albums, I just posted them to MySpace, or the fancy new invention called "Facebook" (I got one through my college, back when you could only sign up by using your school code, I'm OG like that).
So I graduated school, locked in the corporate Human Resources Job, got married and had the perfect little baby..... and my passion for capturing life's little moments exploded (literally all over me lol).
Like most mamas, my leap into professional photography came mostly from the desire to document my child's life. I realized just how fast the days were flying by and how much my sweet boy was changing. I knew we couldn't afford to get photos done of him every year...who am I kidding...I wanted photos every second of everyday. I looked down at my child and wanted to freeze time. I spent hours just studying his face and trying to memorize little details. I wanted to hold him so tight that I could almost absorb him into me. Do you know that feeling? Can you relate? My husband, being the very perceptive man he is, saw how much I needed to document these moments with something other than my iPhone. I confided in him about how I grew up treasuring those old photos and holding onto the few photos I had left from my early childhood. I wanted my boy to have more then enough memories to look back on. I wanted him to be able to see what he couldn't remember. That mothers day after my son turned one, my husband presented me with my very first DSLR camera, and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.
This new form of digital photography baffled me. It made me go cross-eyed. It was so much more intense then the point-and-shoot cameras I had been working with. I felt excited and scared and moved to create something worth remembering. I spent hours learning the ins-and-outs of my camera and how to shoot in manual mode. I wanted complete control over how my images turned out, so that way each and every image was intentional; something that I created out of an ordinary moment. Some days I felt defeated, most days I felt challenged and gladly accepted that challenge. I have beautiful photos of my son eating oatmeal, building legos, taking a bath, putting on his socks and smiling up at me with all the love that a child could muster for his mama. And it's worth it. I feel like that little girl, holding onto all those photos because she didn't want to forget. I'm so happy that now I'm in control of what gets captured, so I don't have to forget.
I have been in business almost three years now, and I can tell you without a doubt, that photography is my calling in life. Growing up I didn't know it, but when I look back over my life, over all the moments I shared with you, it is clear what the Lord had planned for me. He put this song in my heart and I just have to sing. Because I know how important moments are, I am desperate to capture them. Life is so intricate and detailed and it moves faster than our minds are able to record it all. With each new family I photograph, I am honing in on my style and figuring out what story I want to tell....and that story is YOUR story. One of my favorite Photographers, Sarah Cornish with My Four Hens Photography, says, "I want your moments, not your poses", and that's exactly what I am after. Can I capture your moments? Can I help you document your story?
Why do I do what I do? Because your moments matter. Because life is too short to not leave a legacy behind for your children to hold onto. Because more than anything, photography fills my heart to overflowing and even if only one person is impacted by my work, its worth it.
These are the photos your children are going to look back on and cherish; these are the moments that will define your families long after the memories fade. This is my WHY.