A few days ago, I came across a folder I hadn’t looked at since photography school was was over in 2009. Inside the folder were the leftover contents from one of my very first Rocky Mountain School of Photography assignments. The instructor, Tony Rizzuto, asked us to tear magazine images that immediately drew us in. He told us not to over-think it and question why we liked an image, but just to rip it out if it held our grasp for more than a couple seconds. Everyone brought their images to class the next week and we took turns gathering around each other, pictures spread out all over the table in front of us. The group collectively came up with phrases and words to describe what they saw in the collective imagery.
“Bright & Colorful”
“Beauty in Simplicity”
“Timeless – capturing a moment that usually doesn’t happen twice.”
My classmates agreed these phrases were what I was to take away from my magazine clippings. Here we are five years later and I’m staring at these images thinking about who I was then and who I am today, trying to connect the dots. In 2009 I took my camera everywhere. I photographed everything. I was a sponge, soaking in everything I learned. I lived with a wild passion while I was in school and somewhere along the line that fire and excitement got tangled up in trying to run a business and make a living with my art. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt lost, like I got off the trail and could not find my way back.
What I’m saying isn’t original. Every creative person feels this way at some point. But lately, in a mix of grief over my dog and frustration over my day-to-day, I have drowned to my lowest of lows and then risen for a breath of fresh air only to feel renewed and inspired. I have spent countless days over the last month thinking hard about why I photograph, how to make it a successful career, and about where it all started in the first place. A lot of it still feels unsure, but I can tell you that one thing has felt constant from the very beginning: I do this to feel something. To really. truly. feel. I make photographs to make others feel it too; the suffering, the shock, the mortification, the laughter, the embarrassment, the sex, the love, the raw, unfiltered realness of life.
My camera and I are like an old, crotchety, married couple who argues a lot, forgetting about the days we met and forgetting what it felt like to be on cloud nine. But the truth is, sometimes I don’t know who I’d be without it. I am better for loving it, no matter how many times we fight. In the end we make a good team. So here’s to not giving up and here’s to Tony for assignments that keep me thinking, well after they were due.