Photographer-soul Happiness

Discovering your voice and finding your photographer-soul happiness can be difficult. In the world of Instagram and filters it’s easy to get caught up in what you think your photos should look like. Especially with so many professionals out there - is what you’re providing your clients what your soul loves? If it is, then you are amazing and I am genuinely THRILLED for you. But so often that isn’t the case.

I have re-discovered mine. And I say re-discovered, but I actually originally discovered it around this time last year and lost it in a mountain for greif.

As I was going through photos of my daughter to post on her birthday the other day, I came across two photos I took of her on my Diana Mini and black and white film last April. And my heart jumped. I remember when I took them last year. And I remember that same feeling of my heart actually beating faster because of how much I loved them. As a mother. And as a photographer. They were EXACTLY the type of image that my heart yearns for. The soft, dreamy, image that only a plastic lens yields when you completely give into it and all it’s simple glory. I don’t know why, but they speak to the center of my soul.

I had been struggling to find my voice as a photographer. And it was around this time last year that I realized I found it. I posted the photo above to the left on Instagram with this message:

I’m not sure I can accurately describe what this image means to me. As a mother, it’s a priceless photo of a fleeting period of time that will be gone way before I’m ready. As a photographer, it is everything I always wanted my images to portray.

I have been struggling to find my voice as a photographer. I jumped into the world of professional photography way before I was ready. And because of it, my style changed a lot over the six years I shot professionally. Then when I shut down the business a year ago I figured that was it. That was the freedom I needed to finally find my voice (although it’s important to note that’s not why I shut down the business). I went out to shoot. Even when I didn’t feel like it. I filled my social media feed with gorgeous, perfect imagery from talented photographers - many who are friends. And figured that’s what I needed to help me figure out who I was as a photographer. But I felt stuck. Trapped, almost.

Then I bought this tiny plastic 35mm camera on a whim. Over the past few months I’ve been shooting with it, I slowly remembered WHY I started shooting film all those years ago. My first film camera was this mini camera’s big sister - Diana+. I fell in love with film - and only shoot film - because it embodies my emotion. And my plastic cameras do it better than anything. I can’t describe it any other way. I feel my images. And this are perfect examples of it.

Turns out, plastic cameras are my spirit animal. But when my nana passed away suddenly two days after Christmas this year, I abruptly stopped my 365 Plastic Camera project. Nothing made me want to shoot. And I didn’t want to allow myself joy. My soul felt crushed. And I didn’t even know how to pick up a camera. Thankfully, I learned to wade through grief with a camera in hand. And seeing these images of my daughter. I felt that feeling again. The feeling of pure joy deep within. I can’t promise I’ll only shoot with plastic lenses from here on out. But I can promise it will be at least mostly plastic. Because that’s who I am. A photographer who fell head over heels in love with the dreamy plastic lens. And who am I to deny my photographer-soul happiness?