I didn’t want to be a photographer

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I didn’t want to be a photographer. When Ben first bought me a camera in 2012, I didn’t want to look at it or hold it. I felt a lump in my throat. For two people who barely had enough money for a small weekly food budget and rent, this Canon Rebel kit from Costco was a major extravagance, and it made me feel guilty. I worried that there would be people who thought I was picking up this SLR camera because I was bored and jumping on the photography bandwagon. I barely touched that camera in the first several weeks that we owned it and even asked Ben to take it back to the store at one point. He kept it.

Ben learned how to use that camera before I would even touch it. He was the one who bought the Scott Kelby books and began to learn about lighting and composition. He was the one who started practicing on it and playing with it. I made a decision that this was Ben’s hobby, except I couldn’t stay away from it for long.

The whole reason Ben had bought the camera for me in the first place is because he had seen me trying to take pictures with my small point and shoot of every random thing around our apartment. I photographed cherries and got frustrated with them being out of focus. I would create floral arrangements in teapots with grocery store flowers and photograph them and complain that I had no control over how shallow or deep the focus was.

Thinking back on it, the reason I didn’t want to be a photographer was solely based on what I thought other people would think of me. I knew girls who had been offering portrait sessions during our time at university, and I worried they would think I was copying them, that I had no real interest in it. But I had spent my whole life taking pictures. I had spent my whole life framing the world like I would through the lens of a camera even if I had no camera with me. I had spent my childhood accumulating stacks of negatives and prints from disposable cameras I insisted on getting. I took pictures of anything I could possibly photograph including friends, stuffed animals, my dog, my parents’ pool being built, my sister’s drill team competitions, the Aggie themed statue in my college guest bathroom. I made music videos with my sister and neighbor. I spent hours pouring through prints upon prints of family photos of my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandparents, my sister and I as babies. I had also spent my childhood thinking that you could only be a photographer if you were chosen to be one by companies like National Geographic, and I had no plans of becoming a wildlife photographer.

By the end of 2012, I had decided, finally, that I didn’t care what people thought of me anymore (mostly), and I had learned enough about where the photography industry was going to be confident I could and would try my hand at it. Although I never really had a choice in the matter.

I didn’t want to be a photographer, but it was something that I continued to feel compelled to do. I had never felt such a strong pull towards anything in my life aside from what I’m doing right now, writing.

I don’t want to be a photographer. I have to be a photographer. It’s just as much a part of me as breathing.

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