For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the one behind the camera, savoring visual candy one snapshot at a time.
As a child, my mother gifted me a traditional film camera and sent me outside to “go play.” I would spend hours taking photos of anything interesting and anxiously wait a week for the photos to get developed at Eckerd’s (remember them??). Granted, I was no Annie Leibovitz, the deck often came back with blurred images of God knows what. But, I loved capturing colors, still life and moments in time, as a way to feed my creative outlet.
Back then, I already knew what I wanted to do when I “grew up” – help people feel and look confident on the inside and out. I would often hear lovely people make self-deprecating comments, refusing compliments and finding fault in their appearance. Puzzled, I believed they were attractive – if only they could see themselves through my admiring eyes. I was frequently interested in people, their thoughts, emotions, and life history. In retrospect, there’s no accident I became a National Educator for holistic CPG brands, then a Cosmetic Formulator, a Holistic Health Coach, and ultimately a Yoga Instructor. Most of my career, I’ve been focused on serving others in any way to help them feel worthy and self-confident.
I purchased my first DSLR camera body in my early twenties, towing it along to every outing. As a former public speaker, I had the opportunity to travel all over the country, never missing a chance to photograph snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and crystal blue beaches. I captured images of mouthwatering local dishes, interesting people, and busy urban streets. In retrospect, one did NOT want to be behind me in the airport security line considering my bulky amount of gear and lenses. Internationally, my lenses a.k.a “glass eyes” have captured marvelous photos in India, France, Italy, Israel, Canada and Mexico.
Folks took notice and requested me to photograph portraits for their friends and family including small events, high school seniors, business headshots, culinary and product still photos, engagements and birth stories. In my spare time, I would venture about DFW on photo-walks snapping arty images of architecture, wildlife, nature, and anything that allowed me to relish the beauty of each moment. I entered (and won) photo-contests, attended workshops and events to improve my skills in original art composition, capturing natural light, framing the shot, and working with people’s facial expressions.
Everything seemed perfect… and BAM! Fast-forward 15 years and my life was suddenly turned upside down. My spirit was crippled by a mid-life plot twist worthy of day-time talk show coverage complete with “oh-no-he-di’int” and “what human being does that?!?!”. Everything I’d ever learn to trust and rely on was destroyed in the most unfathomable way. In a span of four relentless years I’d experienced some of life’s harshest lessons, all while transitioning out of corporate America to follow my intuition of creating something that actually mattered. In the midst of massive changes, I found refuge at my local yoga studio – Gaia Flow Yoga and followed the path to becoming a certified Yoga Instructor, filling my time teaching several classes a week and attending over 800 hours of teacher training at Gaia Flow Yoga and AYM in Rishikesh, India. Gratefully, serving others kept my heart above water and helped navigate the rough tide of betrayal, divorce, constant illness, several family losses, and a second – more devastating loss and heartbreak. What ensued was debilitating grief and intense despair. I wanted to be existentially done, plain and simple.
The exact weekend I moved out of my home after my 15-year marriage had ended, I was asked to photograph a group of graduating Yoga Instructors at Gaia Flow Yoga. I gladly accepted and welcomed the mental distraction from ruminating thoughts of sorrow and hopelessness. For an entire afternoon, I found myself once-again immersed in the beauty of angles, color, and lighting. Seeing life again through my lens gave me a different perspective and sense of belonging, capturing each Yogi’s vulnerability and personal story. One successful photo shoot led to another, and I found myself creating artful imagery of astonishing Yogis in magnificent poses. At the time, it would be a couple years before I trained to become a Yoga instructor, but I intuitively knew how to capture the integrity and splendor of the poses.
Five years later, tens of dozens of photo shoots later, over 10,000 images taken I am beyond grateful. Where I once felt broken, rejected and useless I now feel pride, strength, and a sense of belonging again. Grief can play some intense mind games, I had no idea how much change I would be forced to embrace. Had it not been for my creative outlet of photography, I might have barely risen from the ashes, but more than likely with a weaker spirit and no sense of purpose. I am beyond grateful for my natural gift of connecting with others through my lens. I feel inspired during every single photo shoot and honored when my clients invite me into their world, allowing me to share in their moments.