Starting this portrait photography business has been a journey that began many years ago. And it certainly is not where I expected to go. There was a time when I believed I would never be a portrait photographer. I started a blog in 2011, and even in my bio on that blog I state that I am simply not any good at taking pictures of people.
But let me start from the beginning. My photography journey started with my Dad. My Dad has always been into photography. I remember as a kid, posing in front of a myriad of umbrella flashes, and really bright lights. We would sit through hours of slide shows of pictures from our vacations to the beach or the mountains.
When I moved to the States from South Africa, my Dad took advantage of having access to photographic equipment at better prices, and asked me to purchase a camera and lens for him. I'd just hang onto it until he came to visit. My brother-in-law's wedding was coming up, and my Dad very kindly offered me the use of his new camera and lens since it was just sitting there anyway. So I went to a wedding in 2005 with a Canon 20D and a 70-300mm lens. My daughter was about 20 months old, and was a flower girl in the wedding. I was a bridesmaid, and so it was well into the reception before I picked up the camera. I had no idea what I was doing. The camera was in full Automatic Mode, and I was just pointing and shooting. But I loved what I could do with the camera and lens. I loved that I could sit on one side of the dance floor, and capture close-ups of people on the other side of the room! I took many pictures of Lily that day. Dancing with her uncle, pulling faces instead of posing with her great-grandma, playing outside. So many pictures.
After the wedding, I put the camera away - it wasn't mine, after all - but I didn't forget the feeling of capturing moments in time. Within 4 months of the wedding, I was pregnant again, and life was busy. We had just moved into a house, I was working, I had a toddler and we were planning for a new addition to our family. Getting a new camera was low down on the priority list.
It was about about 4 years later that I got my first DSLR camera - a Canon 30D. It came with a stock 18-24mm lens, and I was in heaven. I started teaching myself photography. I took online classes, and started following photography bloggers. And then life took a turn for the worse when my marriage started crumbling.
Photography saved my life. I really feel like it did, certainly on an emotional and mental level. It was an escape from the pain and confusion that plagued my every moment. When I was taking photographs, I was free. My mind was on finding the beauty, the detail, and I could spend hours, literally hours, taking photographs. I was drawn to macro photography. I don't recall if it was before or after things fell apart that the macro bug bit, but I know that I grabbed it and hung onto it with all my strength. I look back on that time and I realize that it really makes sense. My world was literally crumbling around me. Everything I knew, I believed, I understood about my place in the world was changing, and I needed to feel grounded by something. My faith in God was strong, and I looked for a way to keep my attention on Him. All I could focus on was a very small portion of the world. The big picture was way too scary. I focussed on details. The detail of a flower petal. The detail of a spiderweb covered in dew. The detail of a raindrop on a blade of grass. I was looking for beauty and simplicity and signs of the divine in the tiny. It was all I could focus on.
Divorce, even an amicable one like ours, is an emotionally bloody process. (Thank you Joseph for that turn of phrase - if you ever read this!) And as I found myself rebuilding my life I found that my photography developed right along with me. I started being drawn to landscapes, more big-picture perspectives.
Family portraits are a natural progression for me, both in photography and in life. I've learned how quickly life changes. With 2 kids of my own, I'm aware of how fast they change and mature and grow right before your eyes. The family you have today, will not be the family you have next year. The kids will be a year older. Their interests will have changed or strengthened. Some kids will have a grown a few inches and are now taller than you! (This I know from experience!) Having the chance to capture a family in the stage that it is in now, and the relationships between the individuals that make up that family, is such a pleasure and an honor.
As far as I have come on my photography journey, I know there is so much more ahead. Thank-you for being a part of it.
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