You have something in you, and it wants to get out.
You see stories and light and love and beauty and it resonates with you SO HARD that you try to capture it and make it stay, over and over again. Sometimes they are moments that you cobble together in a fleeting pursuit of some dream or vision or inspiration. And then sometimes, just sometimes, you capture such a unique moment between two souls or a nuance of human-ness that moves you to tears.
Storytelling is a part of you. Whether it is a series, or a string of moments, or some sort of life theme, or just an hour as it unfolds. The world itself is moved by the manner in which, despite your truest and best efforts, you cannot stop time.
You have taken photos that have become a part of someone’s daily ritual. Images that have papered the walls of someone’s coveted sacred spaces. Memories that have been flipped through and cried over and treasured. Someone’s wedding photos. Someone’s first naps, baths and snuggles. Someone’s last photo with their father before he died.
We are the storytellers. The keepers of the memories, we write the legacy that so many generations will remember someone by. And it doesn’t matter how you contribute to this mass collection of beautiful human expression, but what matters is that you never give up. Because every time that bride looks back at her wedding pictures, her heart will catch in her throat when she sees the look on his face when he first saw her that day. Because every time that mommy gets frustrated with her stubborn school age child, she can look up at that gorgeous portrait you took of her with her newborn, and all of the sweet baby cuddles and kisses will come rushing back. Because that young man will want to break apart as he walks across the stage to get that diploma, but he will be able to stand tall as he clutches to that picture of his father in his pocket.
And you were a part of that, or you will be. Whether you are documenting your own unique beautiful journey, or lending your gorgeous inspired mind to share your gift with others, you are making beautiful marks of documented history. You are freezing time for so many other people you don’t even know, people you may never even meet, or who maybe haven’t been born yet. You are making art that imitates life, and your contribution, however you see fit, is so incredibly important to the human race.
There is a place for you, there is an audience for you, and if you want to make money providing photography for others, I can guarantee that there are clients for you. There will always be doubts and doubters. You may do this as a hobby forever, creating images and art for yourself, or you may file for an LLC and set up a studio and have a schedule and processes and regular clients. There will be some people that like everything you produce, and there will be some people that will never like anything you create.
Someone will tell you that you can’t do it, that you aren’t do it right, or that they are going with someone else. They will tell you that you’ve done it wrong, that you’ve never done it right.
You will tell yourself that. You will tell yourself that all the time, because all artists do.
But I won’t.
Because I believe in what we do here, in what we do every day. I know that we are touching lives. I know that we don’t get to be there every time a grandpa pulls his old tattered wallet out and worships the grandchildren that don’t live in town. We aren’t in the room with a woman on her 20 year anniversary as she pores through her wedding album. We don’t know the moments that they remember only because we made them real.
What you do is incredibly important. You are a storyteller. A dreamer catcher. A memory editor.
You are literally writing human history every time you create an image.
Don’t. Ever. Stop.
-Karmen Van Derven