Yesterday I visited PhotoLA and met a seemingly nice bunch of photographers for lunch with the hopes of talking about shared passion. Lunch, however, didn’t go as planned.
During lunch, someone asked me “Are you a photographer?” I thought I knew the answer: “Yes, I am, thank you very much. Would you like to see some of my work?” But instead I hesitated, I stammered, and finally muttered some confidence-lacking statement about Computer Science and a day-job.
The question stopped me in my tracks because at that moment, in that setting, the question seemed empty and self-limiting. The questions I was longing to answer were more expansive: “Do you photograph?” “What do you photography?” and “Why do you photograph that?”
I do not define myself merely, simply, solely, as a photographer. Over my still-short 54 years, I have developed a high-level of proficiency in many things. I consider myself a musician, computer scientist, teacher, manager, presenter, photographer, good cook, daughter, sister, and wife. I am a passionate learner and teacher. I make my living as a technical manager building on a 25 year career in Computer Science. The many years I spent studying, performing, and teaching classical music are foundational to how I approach my life accomplishments. I study, I practice, I seek feedback from the masters, I teach in order to learn, I present in order to give back, and I perform in order to create.
The statement “I am a photographer” is far to limiting to fulfill a lifetime of desires or express a lifetime of experiences. It puts me in a box and narrows my path. I am myself. I work, play, and love. What I do for work, play or love is a reflection of myself not a definition of myself.
I am not defined by what I create, I create from my experiences and observations.
I am not defined by how many people see my work, I decide when and where to publish my work when it is ready and by the audience it is intended to reach.
I am not defined by the number of comments I give or receive on social media, I speak when I have something to say.
I do not live to be a photographer, I photograph because I am an observer and story teller. I use photography as a means of expression. To show people what I see that they may not have seen.
Yes, I photograph. Would you like to see what I’ve seen lately?