I still find it a shock to describe myself as a photographer. A profession that is inherently creative. It is a shock because I never saw myself as a creative person. I didn’t excel at art or music, in fact I am pretty sure at one point in my early schooling I copied a friends music exam and was told at auditions that perhaps choir wasn’t for me. I was a good student, a great student even, I studied and I studied well. I played sport, did debating and public speaking. And, whilst I dabbled in photography in high school, it was just a passing hobby, and not something I pursued.
I entered university and completed a bachelor of psychology, and then a masters on Psychology and I started my career as a psychologist. Photography was still a hobby, but I didn’t pursue it, I just took photos and enjoyed making albums and putting up photos from our trips in our home.
After we were married, we moved to the USA for my husbands work and I was unable to work for 6 months whilst I waited on my visa. I thought this would be a blessing, a chance to discover that creative side of myself , so I bought some blank canvases and paints and made a couple of lame attempts at this thing called creativity. It didn’t stick, it didn’t feel authentic and I ended up volunteering and then working in Psychology again. It re-inforced that I wasn’t creative. I was academic.
Then there was the arrival of my first child. And suddenly, for a non-creative person like myself, I found myself at the centre of creation. I was part of the most amazing creation, that of a human being. And I wanted to document every day of his life. Every waking moment. Every sleeping moment too! Because as a new mum, those sleeping moments were as celebrated as the awake ones.
Just before my son was born, my husband bought me my first digital camera, and suddenly this photography hobby was a huge part of my everyday. Not only did I have this amazing little human to document every day, I had immediate gratification for my craft. No more waiting until I finished the roll of film. No more waiting whilst I sent the film off to be developed.
I did a couple of courses and I was overwhelmed with everything my camera could do, so I kept it on Auto for years. Because after all I wasn’t the creative type and I was learning a new career – being a mum.
But as the years passed I became dissatisfied with my photos. I had ideas in my head about how I wanted my photos to look and I wasn’t achieving that. I told myself, well that is because you aren’t creative. You are academic. You are a book person, not a creative person. But I thought well I could take the bookish-person approach to photography and learn to at least take my camera off auto. And so I did a few online courses and learnt about my camera. I began to see my photography going to a new level and people started to comment on my lovely photos and how good my camera must be.
I joined Instagram and discovered a whole new world of photography. I discovered photography challenges like Fat Mum Slim. Challenges that made me push outside of my comfort zone, pushed me into the realm of editing my photos, and I began to see my visions come to life.
More friends and family told me that my photography was great, that I took beautiful photos of my kids, and that I should pursue my photography more. Instagram friends praised my work and heaped praise on photos I took of my kids our life, our world. I took some courses, watched YouTube, and I learnt more and more. I took the leap into shooting in RAW, and then I did a workshop with my photography idol and that was the tipping point.
I took the leap. And I hung my shingle out for my photography business. Within months I was no longer a hobbyist, and within a year I was working 40-50+ hours a week, shooting and editing and running a business. It was a lot, too much and there wasn’t a lot of joy left in me after 40 hours in front of my computer editing.
So I pulled back a little, decided to work smarter not harder. Made sure there was time for my children, my husband, and for creativity.
Creativity is now part of my everyday. After a session I am on an adrenalin high, a creativity high. Whether it is taking a new approach to a session, trying something new, a new prop, a new location. There is always something new to create. I was always sure I would be a mother. But a creative – not so much. I am an accidental-creative. An accidental-photographer. And I could never go back.
Join Bree and Clare on Sunday, 18 September 2016 for an afternoon exploring Motherhood and Photography through meditations, discussions, challenges and sharing.