I am a photographer.
photo by Natalie Young of Mint Photography
Yes, I am. Simple enough statement. But I’ve only recently been able to say it without a hint of self-doubt. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a piece of paper stating that I fulfilled the requirements of a photography program. Or maybe it’s because of the long list of photographers from around the world that I admire like crazy (they are photographers). Or maybe it’s because I don’t own the equipment of my dreams (yet). Regardless of the reason, when people have asked about my photography, until recently, I wouldn’t say “I am a photographer” – I’d say “I have a photography business.”
I am a firm believer that the world is a classroom, and that no matter what you are passionate about learning, an abundance of opportunities for growth and improvement await (if you so dare!). My journey as a self-taught photographer has been exhilarating, difficult, amazing, discouraging, rewarding, frustrating, and beautiful. And it’s just begun. Yes, I am a photographer. And while I would have loved to go to school to really dig deep into the art and technique of photography (I still may one day!), I continue to embrace my journey as a do-it-yourselfer. Because photography is what I am so passionate about. And for every ounce of self-doubt in my being, there’s double determination.
Like any art form, photography is a very emotionally involved craft. It’s not about having a fancy camera, it’s about vision. light. love. passion. We do more than click a shutter. We document the world as we see it, we find delicious light and capture even more delicious moments. The world becomes our canvas, and nothing is off limits. We photographers become very attached to our photographs. They are the culmination of our creative efforts, our vision come to life.
When I post my photos for the world to see, I feel like an artist displaying paintings in a gallery, watching people go by, hoping someone stops. appreciates. gets it. If my work seemingly goes unnoticed, I start to question myself. my abilities. my calling. I gaze longingly at the perfect work of the many photographers I admire. And I wonder if I’ll ever get there, while forgetting just how far I’ve come.
There’s a handful of fragmented quotes I hang onto for these times. Something about how the only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be, and comparison is the thief of joy and don’t let someone else’s success become your failure… or something.
I love what I do. I love my clients and I love bringing their story and my creative vision together to make something beautiful. When I compare my work to what it was three years ago, the difference is astonishing. My technique has improved. My creativity has flourished. My style has evolved. The work I’ve produced in the last few months is my best. And I’m excited for what the future holds. There are so many photographers that inspire me, but their strengths don’t need to be my weaknesses. I am learning to draw the line between inspiration and comparison.
I took this photograph last weekend. It’s one of my favourites… ever.
This evening, I’m photographing a fellow photographer for the first time. I admire this girl like crazy and am a huge fan of her work (she took the first photo above during my portrait session with her in the Summer). I’m definitely feeling a little nervous. But more than nervous, I feel excited. A few years ago, I never thought I’d be at a level where other photographers would trust me to capture their memories. I feel so honoured and encouraged. And yes, a little scared. But it feels good to be here. And rather than focus on where other photographers are in their career, or on where I could be in five years from now, I’m going to enjoy where I am right now.
Right now is good.