Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kewanee IL Photographer | Where I've Come From

Inspired by a Girl Hearts Camera blog post, I've decide to share my story. I'm not looking for anything other than to tell my story and hopefully someone somewhere finds it inspiring, entertaining, or at least understand who I am! Take it or leave it, this is me. 

I was born, raised, graduated, married and lived in Kewanee my whole 28 years of life. It's a small town. Everyone knows everyone, you chat with your neighbors, your kids go to school with the same teachers you had, and for the most part it's still safe to let your kids play outside. It's like a comfy pair of sweatpants, not that pretty but you love them regardless.

My road to photography begins when I got a Canon film camera when I was in my early teens. I remember taking it everywhere with me. I Loved taking pictures. You name it I took a photo of it at some point. I remember getting my license and driving by myself in the country to "create art" with my camera. HA, to be so young! I didn't have any knowledge of photography but it opened something up inside me and in the back of my mind it's what I knew I wanted to be when I grew up.

By the time I graduated high school and went to the local community college, I had gone from wanting to be a photo journalist to a forensic scientist to a teacher to an accountant to completely lost. I took gen eds and did the usual college life thing. But I did take a photography class because in the back of my mind, I was still a photographer wannabe. I loved it. I learned how to develop film, learned my way around a dark room and was amazed that I could produce a picture at the end of it all. I had a great teacher. He was a kind gentle person who was always encouraging. Once again, not out loud but inside I wanted to be a photographer. 

I graduated and got an associates. I continued working at my job as a bank teller. I didn't go on to get my bachelors because I was scared and still didn't know what I wanted to do because even though I quietly wanted to be a photographer I didn't believe I ever could make a living off it. I was scared. I didn't have confidence in myself. I did take some senior photos for people I knew and did a couple small weddings. But that was about the extent of it. 

I started dating my husband when I was 19, engaged by 21, married at 22. I was loving my life. I was happy and content. We started trying to conceive a little over a year after we were married and soon realized that it wasn't that easy for us. I have fertility issues and required the help of modern day medicine. But we finally got pregnant on our 3 round of fertility meds. We were blissfully happy. We started planning for a family. That Christmas my husband bought me a Canon EOS Xti so I could take photos when the baby arrived. It was a whole new world to me. I enjoyed learning all I could about my new digital camera. My love of photography had been given new life! I was on top of the world. 

My due date was June 18. On June 12 I was admitted to the hospital to start inducing me because I had preeclampsia. We were so nervous and excited. Day one not much happened. Day two I slowly dilated and was in labor. Day 3 I was in full labor and pushing. To save the nitty gritty details, something went very wrong while trying to deliver and I was rushed into an emergency c-section. We were in recovery when we got the worst possible news. Our son had passed away. We were devastated. That was the moment life stopped. I didn't care anymore.......about anything. I came home to an empty nursery, I was empty. I didn't even know where to start to cope. I packed tiny clothes away and shut the bedroom door. I packed my camera away. I didn't have anything worth photographing anymore. Any dream I had was gone.

As statistics and any married couple who has lost a child can tell you, the odds were not in our favor of making it through this intact. But through the grace of God and a lot of hard work, we made it out the other side together and able to allow happiness in again. We conceived our second son and have an amazing OB who held our hand through every fear we had and safely delivered our now 2 year old. We were a family. Life was joyful again. I had a reason to get my camera back out. A beautiful blue eyed reason.

I took a million photos of him and shoved each one in friends' and family's faces. Then I had his 6 month pictures taken at JC Penney. Gasp! I know. But I love those pictures. What parent wouldn't love a picture of their child?! It was a coworker and dear friend who was appeasing me and looking at each photo online, that literally smacked some sense/confidence/something in to me. She hit me on the arm and said "what are you doing, you take better pictures than that?" Light Bulb. After everything I've been through why not give it a go. Why be scared? I had my "Ah Ha" moment. I had nothing to lose. 

I forced family to let me practice on them even more than normal. I started a Facebook page...that meant I was official, right? I contacted an amazing photographer and fellow Kewaneean, Rachael Myers of Rachael Myers Photography. She was and still is beyond helpful and inspiring and the best cheerleader. My husband once again showed his support by buying me an amazing new camera Canon 5D Mark II. I have learned and improved so so much in the short year I've been doing this for "real" and look forward to continue learning and improving. I've met some great people and finally feel like I'm on the absolute right path for my life. Nothing is going to stop me now (knock on wood). I am determined to make this my career. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Maybe I've shared too much. Maybe you're finding some inspiration for your own life. Maybe you hate it. I can't change it. This is who I am and where I've been. I have lived through and made it out the other side of tragedy and have become a better, stronger person because of it. I am at peace with it. Even on the bad days. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and given me opportunities to capture your memories. I truly do appreciate it all and don't take a single day for granted.



  1. Yes and Now i'm going through the same thing. Taking my core business classes and trying to develop a portfolio on the side. Thanks for sharing this