The short answer - I despised RIC's painting and drawing curriculum and my stubborn ass said "You want realism? Fine...I'll just take a photo instead!" So I did! But, of course, there's so much more than hitting the shutter when it's comes to photography! I will say that to this day I am still grateful for my intro to photo professor because not only actually kept my interest and engagement, he and fueled a desire to learn more. He was interesting and creative and saw things from a different perspective. It was exactly what I needed.
I didn't get into portraiture right away and when I did attempt to it was a rough go trying to get actual *constructive* criticism from my photo class. It was a huge struggle. I'd ask the questions to try and improve, but the responses I got fell flat in terms of what I felt I needed to advance and improve. Ultimately I ended up learning a lot through the photographers at my job taking school photos. (To give you an example of my disappointment in my education at the time - I asked for some help with lighting and my professor handed me a print out from the internet at the beginning of the next class. That was it. That's what I was taught about lighting in my advanced photography class!)
I fell in love with portraiture at the school studio job. It was almost addicting to experience high school seniors finding satisfaction and joy out of images I took for them. Each student was so unique. Their stories were individual and that really pushed me to show them an image that would make them smile...but it didn't stop there. I had students that ranged from feeling like they never got a good school photo to having parents that would look at their images after a session and literally belittle them and insult them right in front of me, shamelessly. My heart broke for countless kids. I got smiles out of teenage boys that refused to smile and made moms cry happy tears. I made girls who felt uncomfortable in their own skin every single day see their shots and blush because they finally felt beautiful and seen. I had so many experiences where in just 15 minutes I was creating these deep bonds with complete strangers. I loved it, to say the least.
I've taken that drive that I found in my success with me and never let it go. Every session I do I crave and strive to achieve that same emotion from my subjects. The feelings evoked for me are completely selfish to want to feel, but it's because of the emotions being felt by someone else from something I did...and that's why I do it. Some of the greatest happiness in my life has come from the emotions that I've seen in others after a shoot when they see their images.
It's not just me being successful though...we're a team. My job is to instruct and shoot as I learn the subject and their wants and needs. It's new and different every time, even with repeat clients! The luxury of digital cameras helps me show what I'm doing as we go - it lets who I'm shooting see how what I'm saying and what they're doing translates through the lens. Communication is key! Photography for me is truly an experience unlike any other and I'm grateful that I get to have it so often!
I photograph for the emotional high. I strive with everything I have to be the best for who I'm shooting. I want so deeply for my images to evoke the greatest feelings that I'm capable of for my subjects. I know sometimes it can seem like "just business," but it's so much more than that! I always have the heart that was touched by the seniors I photographed years ago and devote that passion to every person I photograph.