Why I became a photographer

January 2, 2019

The dark wooden table that consumed her dining room is where it all started. Heavy boxes would be placed around the table as her wrinkly hands took out piles of delicate photo paper. Edges bent and age spots beginning to creep onto the front of a 50 year old print. One at a time she pick them up, delicately holding it in her character filled fingers. A moment of silence filled the room as she paused and gazed at each one before telling me the story behind it. Passing it over for my tiny hands to hold we would sit and laugh at the styles each era and memories of the past. My father’s high school basketball photo of his skinny legs and short shorts is forever burned into my mind. Him and his sister posed for a family picture all with the exact same hair cut and huge glasses that consumed their faces. Hours we would spend going through pictures sitting in the same two chairs as I waited for my parents to come pick me up after work.

The long skinny table the color of which was unknown sat nestled between two green couches on the second floor of her home. Silver, wood, gold, white, and black frames covered every inch of the top of this table. I’d sit, my tiny body leaning over the arm of the couch with my hands under my chin, starring at each picture. Flipping through the mini album of my cousin in Florida, picking up the clear plastic frame and asking her questions, and always curious as to which images she would swap for the next time we came over. Under the table were two doors engraved with a beautiful design. Upon opening there were albums and frames galore. These of course weren’t able to put on display because space on the table was already consumed.

The hand carved frame that hangs in its rightful place in a hallway of my parents home is a creation of a man whom I knew little. Every space of filled with photographs of my parents on their wedding day, my sister and I in our notorious matching outfits, our cousins as babies, and a picture or two of my little brother who we had to make some space for as he came a while after me. I walked by this frame almost everyday of life. Sometimes forgetting it was there but every now and then I’d stop. Smiling back at my parent’s grins on the day the wed, laughing at the outfits my mother forced us into wearing, and remembering the time at my grandmother’s house where it seemed at though we spent a large chunk of our time as kids.

This is my why. I became a photographer because since I was born pictures were a part of my life. At every family member’s house we went to their walls and tables were covered with photographs. The stories I was told behind each one while both of my grandmother’s went into detail and got off on tangents, are some of my most favorite memories as a kid. Getting a glimpse into the lives of my parents as they grew up, seeing the styles of haircuts and clothes evolve with each decade and looking at the faces of those relatives who I never had the pleasure and honor of knowing before their passing is priceless to me.

An interesting path led me to being a photographer after a short time thinking of a career in interior design, an associates degree in graphic design and then some time working in a bakery making all the cookies and cupcakes you could imagine. Though all of these stages of landing a career, there was always a camera close by and photographs which covered every wall in my room. To be truthful I never thought I would be a wedding photographer. But after assisting many photographers throughout my time in photography school and understanding how deeply these images would mean to them for the rest of their lives and their kids lives was something that touched my heart so greatly.

I could see each couple having the same experiences I shared with both of my grandmothers. Sitting around the table telling stories of their wedding day and how much time has changed. I can imagine them looking at their photographs and remembering the exact feeling they had on that day and it absolutely lights me up.

This is my why.

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