We just filed our family’s taxes. I can visualize the accountant’s facial expression, and it tells me his exact thoughts.
WHAT are you doing?! WHAT do you think you’re accomplishing?!
Going over the spreadsheets, receipts and kilometers travelled, it became apparent that what I do is fueled by a lot of sacrifice and passion for the cause.
However, the question for me isn’t “what”, it’s “why”.
Why am I doing this? Well..
Before I became a photographer I spent years studying Child and Youth Care. It’s a faculty that is kind of similar to military bootcamp in that you find yourself taken apart and then rebuilt. You piece yourself back together after spending hours, weeks, months, and years, dissecting your thoughts and learning how to be present with people (while reflecting their experiences and perceptions so that they can arrive at autonomously decided positive outcomes – phew, that’s a mouthful!).
I have always been an empathic, sensitive and emotive person – I came that way! As in depth as the self-reflection was, I wasn’t any clearer on building my personal identity. I was a student with a solid report card and job offer – but that was never my end game.
I got married, finished school and served families as an Autism Interventionist. After experiencing near debilitating morning sickness with our first pregnancy that kept me from being able to continue work, my husband and I made the decision that I could stay home and run the household.
The student had become an employee, then wife, and one day I would be a mom. In my mind everything would be right in the world once I was a mother.
When our family grew, by one and then by two, the desperation was consuming. How I wanted to have a group of people that understood the struggles and triumphs. I would think to myself, “Someone see me and talk to me!” The kids would start melting down in the grocery store and I would feel I had failed (I didn’t come prepared enough, I should’ve made a meal plan, but I am not getting any sleep and I just want to cry because I’ve been wearing this baby carrier for so many hours that my back is also having a meltdown!) I take it back, don’t look at me and please don’t talk to me! Just let me run back to the car and avoid eye contact.
By that point, my introverted nature began to create an almost paralyzing anxiety. My days were filled with diapers and around the clock breastfeeding sessions. I felt myself holding back tears when attending social engagements and being asked the questions “what do you do?”, “what are you interested in?”, “what are your hobbies?”. I would shrink away from conversations because I had no idea! I’d only ever looked far enough ahead in life to know the next lily pad I needed to jump to avoid drowning and never invested in developing my self or passions. I had ‘achieved’ motherhood but still had a giant void. Internally I felt there must be something wrong with me to not feel complete fulfillment from being a mother.
Make no mistake – I do not take my children or motherhood for granted. I have suffered miscarriages, felt the sting of far too many blood draws testing HCG levels and the cruel nature of fertility. I know how lucky I am to be their mother, to be loved by them, help them learn, and experience the world. I had travelled the road that was expected: go to university, get married and have children. I longed for another dimension to my identity that was outside of ‘mom’ and ‘wife’; I wanted to create art and empower women.
Then I started to going to a fitness group that changed me. Fundamentally it changed me. Jill Bobbitt and her amazing family of “Hot Mamas” saw me. Danielle Dumont gave me my first high five at my first bootcamp, Leona Lewco inspired me with her drive and commitment (and laugh, I love her laugh). There have been highs and lows with these women and they have seen me through it, even when they have no idea. They made me feel beautiful and empowered. I didn’t even have to show up to class and they could make me feel this! Finally my people! And it changed my life. I could breathe without the crushing grip of anxiety holding me and my confidence soared.
Women need communities. A tribe to lift them up, inspire and challenge. I didn’t have that until well after my children were born. Maybe I won’t meet you until after your children are born either. People come in to our community, stay for a while, and leave us forever changed. Sometimes they stay can stay for years, others will come and go like the tide, and some will just be a fleeting once in a lifetime meeting.
I can promise you something though. I’d like to be part of your community, the one that lifts you up. I’ll help you shake off the heaviness of the world so that you can laugh, enjoy the present, be present and seen.
I want to show women how beautiful and strong they are – the ones who were new to finding their footing in motherhood, women who were losing their hair to chemotherapy, mamas who were bringing children into the world, or as they thrive in their new life after divorce. And oh I feel you, the shattered heart that is reading this who has lost a child or a pregnancy. I want to see you all supported. Tell me your story and I’ll use photography to show you your strength.
My way of being a photographer is to bring people out of themselves. Mama I see you, I know what’s there. A bright and vibrant soul that maybe you’ve lost sight of. My camera will be the mirror I use to show you the confidence that you embody.
I go the distance for my families that I serve; not spurred by obligation, but because I believe in people, humans, reflecting the light within others.
If all else was quiet in the room when you are moments away from meeting your brand new baby, you would hear me gently and quietly cheering for you. And when a family arrives in the parking lot of their family session location – I’ll tell you how genuinely beautiful you look, and will fully appreciate what it took for everyone to arrive with socks on and food in their tummies.
While it doesn’t always let me balance the books, I have grown, served and been inspired by every story and every connection that photography has allowed me to make. Thank-you for being a part of my community, (no matter how long you were able to stay). It’s made all the difference, and I hope I’ve made a difference to you <3