This isn’t about me. Not anymore.
I used to think that being a photographer was just a way to work for myself. I wanted to be able to spend time on things that I felt passionate about. I think everybody does to some degree, but here I felt like I had a real chance. Even if it couldn’t replace my full-time job immediately, at least I could grow it into something that could. If it took five years, ten years, twenty, it would be worth it. It wasn’t like I was trying to find a way to be lazy; lower-middle class work ethics are forever burned into my psyche. I was just trying to earn my way and feel happy about the process. I wanted my soul to breathe.
Perhaps during that part of my journey, it needed to be about me. I needed to recognize what I needed to be happy. I needed to remember how to express myself, and how to give myself permission to act. I needed to allow myself extravagances I would normally turn away from. I needed to show myself that photography would allow me to express myself the way I wanted to. But once all of those needs were met, I began the slow realization that it would become much, much more than that.
This is about you.
Everyone has a story that lives within them. I know this; I’ve learned how deeply stories are embedded within the human psyche. From the first glimmers of language, we’ve had storytellers enthralling us. We learn from stories as if we experience them for ourselves, first-hand. Where many of us struggle, though, is being able to tell our stories and do them justice. I know I’ve felt that way, like my voice doesn’t matter and nobody wants to listen. I’ve also felt that being that open and honest with everybody would only expose myself as weak and vulnerable. Slowly, though — painfully slow — I realized that the only things keeping me from sharing my stories were these fears. I know you have a story. I strongly believe these stories are meant to be told.
Photography isn’t the only way to tell that story. It’s indirect and ambiguous, but it’s one avenue among many. It allows us to illustrate part of our lives, or even part of ourselves, in ways that sometimes escape the capacity of language. It can express, in a single image, the core of who you are. What this business — this mission — has become is about making an avenue of expression available to you, to bring every technique I’ve learned to bear on that task. Because if there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s this: the most important story you can tell is your own.