Why I Fell For Photo
I was always drawn to the more creative side of things. I was never an A + student because my brain always wandered and imagined beautiful, intricate ideas and lines instead of focusing in class. From a very young age I knew whatever it is I would become — I would have to inject the left side of my brain in to everything I did. Having struggled in a traditional education setting, I found outlets that allowed me to excel. Starting in third grade, art class was the only thing I would look forward to. I remember other kids in my grade struggling to think objectively about assignments and being frustrated with their pieces. A lot of our education is learning rules and sometimes you should be able to break rules and art forms of any kind are the perfect format to do whatever you want. I wasn’t personally that gifted in drawing or painting but I just liked expressing myself by creating visuals that I understood. It wasn’t until the fifth grade when I discovered my love for photography. I would see images in my parent’s National Geographic’s and in my sister’s Vogue Magazines and not admiring the animals or the clothes, but I was admiring the composition, lighting, and techniques before I even knew what they were and how they were achieved. I hid this love for a while because I was embarrassed that I was so into looking at my sisters Vogues but the amount of creative forces and ideas put into those shoots was more for me than most.
I didn’t start to act on my passion for photography until my freshman year of high school. I got my first DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera for my eight-grade graduation and I was shooting nonstop. I would take photos of my friends just hanging out and take “album covers” for some of my friends who thought they were going to have rap careers. Taking images of people is my absolute favorite thing to shoot. I love the face people make when they see an image of themselves and they feel good about themselves. We all have a little bit of a narcissist in us and I feel like a gateway for my subject to indulge in a little piece of vanity. For example, the photo to the left is of my friend Audrey. She instantly said, “Wow. I didn’t think it would come out this good!” in response to this shot I showed her. People usually always have a different response to my photos. I can tell when someone likes a photo of mine and when they actually are impressed — if they actually like the photo of mine it will be followed with a tad of speechless-ness. Whenever I see something that I like I don’t auto reply with something like “great!” or “amazing!”. Silence is sometimes the best compliment I get.
My photography became more than a hobby for me when I realized I could possible make a living from doing it. Fast forward to college and I became a staff photographer for the Marquette Wire. Journalistic photography was interesting because I had creative freedom, but there were rules involved, which was something I was trying to get rid of. The time I spent at the Wire was very formative and taught me communication skills and how to get people to open up in a setting that didn’t always allow for such vulnerability. Through all my experiences and all the experimentation I have done — I feel like I’m finally establishing a style of photography that is truly my own.
A photo, for me, does not have to be an intricate and high production shoot full of fancy lights, diffusers, fans, etc. All I need is a subject and a light source. I love how lights all around us paint our faces and our surroundings. Of course, some lighting is less forgiving than others but how the camera captures the light is the most honest image you can get. For the image to the left, I photographed my friend Gina on a very foggy evening on Marquette’s campus. The only available light were these street lights that were already diffused due to the low-lying clouds. I positioned her head directly in front of the lamp and exposed the shot to show her facial features instead of exposing for the light source and completely silhouetting the shot. This allowed me to create a nice white background and isolate her for simplicity.
People have asked me before why I solely shoot in black and white. Whenever I’m on commission I do my best to get the client whatever they want — if they want color, I give them color. If they want a Tumblr style photo (horrible style) I give them that too, but for me, black and white is my favorite color format for an image. Black and white is so simple and effortless. It adds drama and an intimacy to any shot and will never go out of style. Being a left sided brain type of person, people usually think we don’t see detail and we only just see the big picture, but that is false. I see details differently. I notice the lines in a photograph before I see the person’s face or the mountain ridges. Black and white helps me delineate the lines that make up a photograph better than working with color. Therefore, it’s how I prefer to shoot.
Photography as my creative outlet has helped me with so many struggles in my life. It helps me shape the world and see people in more honest ways than just a conversation. Our time is so limited but a photograph has the ability of immortality and to think that my photos can be seen and enjoyed by many generations makes all the difference for me and will always push me to create something genuinely innovative and emotional for years to come.