Last Friday was Emma's "Spring Sing" show. Being that I am the official photographer for her kindergarten class, I was there to take pictures. She and her classmates sang many of the songs they have learned in their first year of school. It was precious and I got to be there to witness a moment in time that will never be happen again.
The Graduating class of 2022 singing in sign language during
the Spring Sing. My little Emma is the the girl in the second row.
If you know me, you may know I have been pulling myself through a struggle at this point in my life. I keep thinking I have to decide who I am as a photographer. What is my brand? What do I do, and how shall I market myself? Over the last month I flip flopped all over the place with this and even stripped my website down to bare bones with nothing but fine art images because "that's all I wanted to shoot." As soon as I did this I felt like I had cut off my arm, or leg, or whatever, I just felt like I had killed off part of who I am.
So, after Emma's show I stopped by the grocery store for a couple of items. As I walked past the cheese aisle I noticed a man that looked very familiar. It was Paul Gero! He is one of the nicest men I know and here he was in the grocery store with his camera hanging over his shoulder and a couple of yogurts in his hand. As we said hello, and began to talk we of course, started talking about our love and passion for photography. I have to tell you honestly that talking to Paul was like having him say, "Hey, Kelley, I have some milk and honey here in my pocket, would like some?" When I shared this allegory with my middle daughter she asked me if he actually said that. No, he did not actually say that but everything he DID say was like magic that watered my dry and dusty photography spirit.
Now, to really appreciate this you'd have to know that Paul Gero was, for 20 years, a photo journalist and very successful at what he did. From taking pictures of world leaders to Princess Diana, back to daily street news for the Chicago Tribune. He's the real deal. Now he lives here in Southern California with his beautiful wife and children and loves his life capturing images of children, families, and weddings.
Out of all the wonderful words of wisdom that Paul shared with me next to the cheese he said this one thing that stuck with me. "Do what makes you happy." Wow, really? I'm allowed to do what makes me happy? Enjoy the camera, the people, the moment, the post, the film, the processing, whatever it is that you love, just do it. (That was the compressed version) For some reason, this made perfect sense. Paul has been working on a project called One Camera, One Lens One Shot a Day. He does exactly this, enjoys the camera and the moments of everyday life.
You'll need to know this, I am retired. I have paid my dues of long shifts and hard work, both mentally and physically. I have worked in one of the top three most stressful jobs in America and I don't want to work like that again. I'm able to provide financially for my family- I understand this makes a difference. So, here's the deal, I am doing what makes me happy. When you look at my website you may be confused as to who I am or it may be perfectly clear. Personally, I don't care if anyone gets it because I do. I asked myself, "If I found out I had only six months to live what would I shoot pictures of? What would I show you?" I answered myself by saying this, "I would shoot everything that makes me happy, and nothing that doesn't!"
So that is who I am: a photographer who loves her camera, the process, the moments, and the taste of milk and honey.
I love shooting black and white film with a 4x5 camera. I loved opening the lens
and running around in my socks "painting" my husband with a flashlight.
I love shooting a wedding but knowing how to use a tripod and long exposures
to take unexpected images of the venue...
...and to still have the time to see the wonder in a child's world in the middle of the
hustle and bustle of the wedding
While still getting the images I came for.
I love the technical stretch of getting the interior shot while still understanding
how to use light that gives you this beautiful blue sky... in camera.
Lastly, I love sitting on the ground and staring at the light dance
around a group of bubbles floating in a fountain.
These things are ALL part of who I am and what I do and I plan on enjoying them all wether I get paid to do it or not. Now, that's liberating!