I began my photography hobby back when film was the only option. I had always had an interest in it and that interest was intensified by a show about a somewhat troubled teen who uses her artistic vision as a way of dealing with her problems. My parents weren’t too thrilled about the costs and wouldn’t always pay to get the film developed, so I still have undeveloped rolls of film lying around from almost two decades ago. Seeing the end result wasn’t nearly as much fun though as the process of actually taking the photos.
While my earlier work wasn’t really all that spectacular, it was a great opportunity for me to gain experience as a photographer (or “camera-ist” as I used to call it) and enjoy being outdoors.
Being outdoors was always my primary motivation behind doing photography when I was younger. I enjoyed experimenting, but I wasn’t overly concerned with technique. I was criticized for my lack of technical skill or knowledge, but it wasn’t enough to deter me. I was in love with trees and birds and bugs. I couldn’t get enough of snapping a photo of every little bit of nature that I saw and I was willing to put in the effort to teach myself how to get the shots I wanted.
Once I reached adulthood, I had decided to take my hobby into a career and began working with local models looking to build or expand their portfolios. I spent a couple of years doing this on the side, learning the art of human portraiture. Finally, in 2009, I decided to make it official and opened my studio, Salem Street Productions (named for Salem Street, the name of the street where my husband and I were living at the time).
I started by setting up a space in our living room for using as a portable studio when clients wanted an indoor studio space, but my main focus was doing location shoots. I was far more interested in natural light and beautiful scenery than a plain backdrop and artificial studio lighting. Given my start with portraiture working with local models, that stayed my primary focus, although I did occasionally dabble with weddings and families.
It was interesting, to say the least. I was able to work with some very unique people and shoot some intriguing concepts. There were also some bad experiences, especially with models flaking on scheduled shoots or creating unnecessary drama. I did that for a while before realizing it just wasn’t satisfying my creativity so I once again switched my focus and began doing several art shows, focusing on themes that were meaningful to me. This I absolutely loved.
It allowed me to explore a variety of issues in themes I chose, work with models that I knew and trusted and considered friends, and head outdoors for additional inspiration whenever I felt like it. My first show was titled Gray Skies and was an abstract representation of femininity in gray-scale. I also was able to explore female strength, both that of human women and non-humans, and the impacts and feelings associated with experiencing sexual violence. It was a great outlet for my creativity and the more I pursued the artistic nature of my photography, the more I gravitated back towards nature.
In May of this year, my beloved kitty of fourteen years died of kidney failure. She had been there for me throughout the worst events of my life. She was what kept me going for so long through horrible bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts and losing her has felt like the hardest thing I have ever been through, even compared to the environment I was forced to grow up in. Even months later, I am no where near over losing her and I doubt I will ever be able to completely move on from this. This event has forced me to completely reevaluate everything in my life, including my photography.
Wildlife photography has always been something that I’ve done. Even while I was earning money as a portrait photographer, I would do wildlife photography as a way of relaxing and reconnecting with nature. I hadn’t given any real thought to turning it into a business though until recently. Losing Baby made me realize that I need to refocus my life and follow my heart. So I’m getting back into wildlife photography full time since that is what I’m most passionate about.
I want my photography to mirror my priorities. I’ve also switched my college major from anthropology to environmental science. My goal is to use my acadamic background and photographic experience to promote wildlife conservation, environmentalism, and animals’ rights.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog and I hope you love the photos as much as I’ve loved taking them!