In spite of me

It has come about that the lines between photographer and therapist are somewhat blurred. It’s a tricky little seam that breaks, gets resewn, and breaks again.

I’m not quite sure where to draw the line honestly because I do what I do because I love what it gives people; a sense of freedom, exploration, and a few hours of self-expression free of judgement. Nevertheless, I’m only one human and I can’t solve the isolating life that so many have created for themselves.

I’ll be an outlet for a few hours and give you some great photographs, but please don’t tell me about your abusive wife, or condescending friends. It breaks my heart, and my heart is fragile.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth I am doing. How can I possibly keep this up and make a life of this? I only know that in the depths of my soul, I just have to. It’s a lot like breathing. I just wake up, I just breathe, and I just function with a camera. This is what I know, and I’m not going to let fear overthrow that again.

The first time photography broke my heart, I was 16 and taking a night photography class at The Evergreen State College.

I was the youngest (by far…really far) in the class. I was so nervous every night because I barely knew what the name of my camera was – much less how to take a “good” photograph. But I knew the way a camera felt in my hands, and I knew the smell of the chemicals in the darkroom lingered in my lungs like a memory of a past life.

It wasn’t long before I felt so overwhelmed by the experience around me that I walked away completely. I walked away shrugging my shoulders and swearing I’d come back to it one day. Years later I found my way back, slightly stronger but not much wiser.

In College, at a ripe 22 years old, I leaped back into photography, aiming for forensic photography but one lecture on an underwater suicide left me running towards something a bit more positive. I was beyond fortunate to have had the Professors that I did. One teacher in particular (you know who you are) kept pushing me. She reminded me that there are people who love photography, and there are people who need photography – I was someone who needed it.

Of course, you know being an artist at heart and somewhat insane, I got off track again. I saw no way possible to focus solely on photography, so I backed out. I got scared. I put the camera down and picked up some terrible day jobs that sucked me bone dry to the point that I didn’t even recognize myself, until recently…months ago I was at a fork in the road and it was either this gritty, wild, artist road – or a paved, corporate road with perfectly drawn lines. It’s clear which path I choose, and clear why – but it’s still shocking to me to be here – now- in this life.

So, I give thanks – to the support, the encouraging words, the constant reminders of “you’ve got this”, and to the people vulnerable enough to share their world with my camera and this wandering eye….

(This weeks blog photograph will be featured in the local publication of ArtVoice, so locals - keep an eye out!)