WHY I DO THINGS THE WAY THAT I DO | Worthington, Armstrong County Photographer

I picked up a camera for the first time, probably when I was a toddler. My great aunt Marilyn and my aunt Sue both had “fancy cameras” in the late 80s, early 90s. I know this because I have photos and videos of them, and of myself, taken by them that serve as my memory.

I loved disposable film cameras as an adolescent and teenager. They were fun tools to remind me of my life then. The anticipation of turning your camera in, waiting for the prints and then seeing them (and all the spoofed ones lol.) I know this because I have photos specifically that I took, or I was in that serve as my memory.

I remember when I was a senior in high school my mom bought me a camera. It was a cheap one, but it was mine. I have no idea where it is now. It looked similar to this: https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/autofocus-35mm-camera {which holy moly, that’s cool you can buy one still.) I know this because I took photos with it and have prints and they serve as my memory.

When digital cameras came out, I thought that was awesome. I played on other’s digital cameras, because I couldn’t afford one. Finally, in late 2006, after I moved to Pittsburgh and finally bought a bed to sleep on- while I was working as a waitress, I had some money and bought my first one. It was a Kodak Easyshare. I have no idea where this camera is now. But I loved it! I took many, many photos on it, pictures of Lacey and Beefy’s wedding, me and Jody, Yuri’s graduation… so many big memerories. I know this because it is still not too long ago, but these photos serve as my memory. It is hard to remember every exact moment from even today, and although the memories are there, I believe it is because the photo specifically reminded me of it.

After that, Lacey got a DSLR. Nikon D3100ish era. I thought it was so cool. I took photos on it any chance I could get. Baby Noah and Camp Little Joe 60th anniversary are two things I specifically remember. I also see the photo of camp, with four generations of their family documented together, when I go to Maw Maws house, and look in her dining room.

Eventually, I upgraded to a Nikon Coolpix, which was the camera I had still when Ava was born. Uncle Marky had a DSLR and he would let me borrow it to take pictures of Ava, and at this point I just knew in my heart that I needed to have my own. More than anything, I wanted to be able to capture my memories and the memories for her to remember from a time that she can’t. I know this because our walls are filled, that serve as my memory of that split second of time, for the past 10 years.

So at the end of 2011, I bought my very first DSLR. My only brand new one too! Nikon D5100, with kit lens. It wasn’t cheap, I was in school and not working and Jody just got hired at Bayer. I charged that battery as fast as I could and started snapping away. I had no idea what I was doing, but I took photos and I printed them too. If I wanted Ava to remember these times, I had to. In this digital age it is so easy to just leave them on the card, post them on Facebook, etc. but prints are an absolutely necessity. It is hard for me to remember so much because like most of my life, it all seems like a blur. It simply isn’t possible to remember EVERY MOMENT OF OUR LIVES. The big moments that are special we take pictures of. But for me, I wanted pictures of even the mundane moments. I wanted pictures of the way Ava’s hair curled when she was a year old, the way her hand fit in mine and was so small. The way that Jody embraced her in his arms. Her cute little smile, her baby face. It all helps me remember so I know it will help her remember, too. I hope that her children, and her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren, will get to see these images. To share that moment in time even after I am gone, the way that photos have been shared with me, by my family members.

I took a lot of pictures from the first shutter on my Nikon in 2011 to 2014. I still really had no idea what I was doing, pictures were looking okay, but they didn’t have the exact look that I wanted. I finally buckled down and taught myself manual mode photography. ISO, aperture, f-stop. Exposure triangle. Focusing. Depth of focus. Posing. Angles. Somewhere along the lines, it all clicked. Literally and figuratively, haha. I figured out my style. I realized what I wanted to shoot was not portraits, not the ordinary thing that everyone else was doing.

I started my business in January 2015. I had no idea what I was doing but I did it, with the help of the IUP SBDC, which I am so thankful for their guidance starting out. I still barely know what I am doing, I didn’t go to school for business. I went to school to learn how to care for people. I taught myself photography. It took me my whole life. From the first time I picked up a camera to finally understanding the magnitude of what holding the tool that I held in my hands, with the knowledge in my brain and caring in my heart. I am not a standard, run of the mill photographer. I am one of a kind. I am Forever Whimsy.

Graphic design, my logo is one of kind, I made it myself. Website design and redesign, also me. Taught myself both. I found a free software called GIMP and although, it took many, many hours of frustration to figure it out, I did it. I learned as I went and still consider myself to be learning. Wanting it to be absolutely perfect. Photoshop, taught myself and although I used it for over 5 years, I wanted to upgrade. So I bought Lightroom and it literally took me over a year but now I have loved it for about 5 years. My editing flow took some time but I found the tweaks I love and use them on every photo.

Three more used cameras. My first full-frame DSLR, Canon 5D classic. Which at the time was nearly a decade old and cost me half of what my brand new Nikon kit cost me, and I had to still purchase a lens. I got the 50 1.8, nifty fifty, a great lens. I took one of my absolute favorite photos of Ava, which is in my kitchen above my sink. Everything about it is perfect. Amazing that such an old model was so good still. I also bought a 40mm pancake lens. I knew what I wanted though. A Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art. But first, I upgraded to a used Canon 6D. Much newer, cost me close to what my brand new Nikon kit cost. Awesome camera. Lots of pictures on that one. I have no idea how I could ever calculate my shutter count, between every DSLR I have used but it has got to be way over a million. I know this because I have folders upon folders of photos of my life and every person thats been on the other side of my lens dating back to 2010. 11 years of unlimited shutter clicks, outside of running out of space on a card, which is hard now with a 16GB or 32GB card. I easily take between 200-300 photos during a 30 minute-1 hour session.

April 2016, I got my Sigma. Used. It cost me the about the same amount as my used 6D. It is amazing how awesome these photos turn out. Partially because of me but also because of the equipment. I bought my ultimate camera, my Canon 5D Mark iii in 2018. That and my 24mm are my main set up that I always use. I do still have my 6d with the pancake lens but I hardly ever use it. Sometimes for self portraits, because it hooks up to my phone through wifi.

I know this has been longwinded but basically what I am trying to say is that I love photography, the memories captured. I believe in printing photos. Putting them in albums. Hanging them on walls. Looking at them and remembering for that moment, unfortunately we can’t just remember one thing all the time.

When you book a session with me, I give you everything that I learned, know and feel in the photos that will become your memories and the memories that you pass on.

This last year has been a difficult one for me and my family. If you know what I have been through, just as an outsider of the ones afflicted, you probably wouldn’t understand how I can still smile today. I have tried my best to do what I love, photography. Of course, the virus didn’t help at all. But over the last month, things are looking up. I have had a few sessions and those brightened my spirit a bit. The carnival is next week which will be so colorful, a wonderful backdrop for memories!

I got off track again and the purpose of this post was to help you understand why I do the things that I do. To understand why I want to continue to do things that I love to do. And to put it into the universe that I want to do more of it. Just put the camera in my hand and I will do the rest. Just make sure to have prints made so they can serve as your memory. Display them. Look at them often.

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