Develop from the negatives - Chrissy's story.

January 30, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

In a world with cameras in everyone's pockets, photography as a career has become harder then people think. Professionals in careers used to be able to claim their profession after months of training or years of knowledge. Now, it seems people can go purchase the most expensive camera they can and call themselves professionals.

I started my own photography journey back when I was a teenager. I was probably around 13 when I started to show interest in photography, so my mom gave me my grandfathers old Canon 35mm camera. I fell in love with shooting and using my star burst lens as much as possible. At the time, I shot whatever I could around our farm. Pets, flowers, buildings, even my mom's garden decor, lol, it was all fair game. However, I still hadn't given photography much thought to being more then a hobby. I loved drawing and painting and wanted to be an artist when I graduated. However, I knew there wasn't much that I would be able to do with that unless I did something for Disney.

That seemed way out of my league and I also was very active with the local fire departments at the time as a volunteer. So I decided I wanted to be in the medical field. I started collage taking my basics.

During this time I had also started working on cars with my father and brother. Yes, I was one of "those" kids lol. I had a little sports car of my own and wanted to build it up into a show car. So, for three years, I worked on cars, building, painting, and airbrushing them. During those three years I had built my own show car (a 1996 Toyota Celica) and been featured in numerous magazines and even landed a spot on Speed Channels Pass Time (with my 1990 Nissan 300zx). In 2006 I was named Top Female Auto Builder on the East Coast by the NCCA and had achieved the honor of winning Best Female Ride and Best Toyota. This was amazing and I had busted my butt to achieve it, but still didn't feel right. Even during all the years of building I found that I was always there taking photos of the cars I built or my own vehicles.

I was lost, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or career. Continuing with airbrushing and building autos just wasn't going to work. There is no demand for that sort of thing in PA, and we all know I am no city girl. Cali or even the west just wasn't going to cut it for me.  Thanks to my mom, during those three years she had pushed for me to go to collage, so I did. Only I changed my major from medical, to animation. I then attended the Bradley Academy of Visual Arts for Animation while I worked on autos on my days off.

In 2007 I moved to Alabama, I had met someone I thought was the one (hey all teenagers are naive at some point) and was working in a ultrasound/xray clinic where I was working my way up the ladder. This really had me rethinking the medical field. I was happy at my job and was proud to be moving up the ladder so quickly. Then one day in 2009 I realized I had moved away from my family for the wrong reasons. So, back to PA I went. Only when I came back to PA I tried to continue my medical career only to be met by closed doors.

Once again, I found myself lost. I took some time for myself. Went through photos I had taken over the past years. The autos I build, the ones I owned and sold, the trips I took, and the friends I made. All captured to remind me of the accomplishments I had made. I worked for a few years as a Receptionist for a local PowerSports shop during the mornings, while I worked at Advanced Auto during the day, then bartended at night. I still hadn't found my calling but was working on growing up either way.

Then in 2009 I met my now husband and everything changed. After a year of dating we knew it was meant to be and Eric proposed. It wasn't until we thought about getting photos done for our parents for Christmas that I started to think of Photography again. As JC Penny's had closed, the next thing we thought of for pictures was (yes I cringe admitting this) was Walmart. So, Eric and I got dressed up and decided to get our photos taken. I mean heck it was only $15 for a sheet of photos, which is all we thought we needed. We showed up and spoke with the clerk/photographer and she started to pose us and take shots in the tiny studio. The photos felt like jail line-up shots but we smiled as we knew our mom's would appreciate it. After she finished she sat us down and showed us the photos telling us to pick out the ones we liked. So we did so. They photos weren't horrible, but they weren't amazing by far. Pretty much exactly what you would expect from Walmart. The clerk then looked at us and asked what the photos were for. Big mistake. As soon as I mentioned the dreaded "engaged" word, everything changed. Our price then went from $15 to over $300! Eric and I looked at each other shocked, I actually laughed out loud asking if she was serious. She then confirmed they were no longer portraits but engagement photos so she had to charge more. I once again laughed and told her no way. At this point I decided I would shoot my own engagement photos. So I enlisted the help of my brother and did just that. And to be honest I couldn't be happier. They are certainly far from what I am capable of now, but it's fun to think that I took my own engagement photos.

Shortly after the start of planning our wedding, we found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. At this time, the PowerSports shop I worked at had closed down, and I had decided to change my career path again. So I worked as a bartender for a local restaurant, that was until I was "let go" due to pregnancy complications. This had broke me. Every job I ever held I busted my rear at, and I had just been "let go" for something I had no real control over. Even after speaking with a lawyer, I was told that by the time a case would have been settled with fighting a big chain company, it wouldn't be worth it. I found myself once again at a loss. I was 7 months pregnant and I had nothing to contribute. I felt worthless. Luckily, the man I had fell in love with is amazing, and never once complained. He lifted me, assuring me we would be fine and suggested I just wait until after our daughter arrives to decide what to do next. So, that's what I did. I took the time off, capturing memories along the way. The work we did to the house in prep for our daughter, my growing belly, everything I could leading up to being sent to hospital for Raelee's arrival.

Once Raelee arrived, she was my inspiration. I couldn't put my camera down. I wanted to capture every single moment. After about two months, I started getting friends and family commenting that I had a talent in photography, and maybe I should look into that. So, in 2013, that's exactly what I did. While being a stay at home mom, I focused my free time on photography, relearning the basics and business aspects of it. I started doing shoots for family and friends, slowly working my way to building a portfolio. As my talent grew, I slowly saw the light showing me to my career path.

Then in March of 2013 I was hit with a curve ball, my wonderful mom who had supported me my whole life was diagnosed with Cancer. This broke me, but I was convinced I would take care of her and my plans for photography we placed on hold as I moved my mom into our home. Then after 8 months, my mom lost the battle. To be honest, I thought this would have been the end of me. I thought I would have turned into a blob and waste away to nothing. But then I had my daughter and Eric. My rocks. Even when my grandmother passed the following month after my mom, I still found a way to carry on. Everything seemed to go by quickly, and I don't remember much from those two months, but I realized I couldn't mope or be sad forever. I had an adorable brown eyed little girl counting on me to keep going.




So, I did just that. Climbing back in the saddle, I picked my camera back up and started shooting again, pushing, striving, and learning along the way. I'd love to say that photography just came natural to me but I'd be lying. During each branch of my photography journey I was taught something.

Having the 35mm camera taught me the basics of photography and how to shoot correctly to achieve results straight from the camera. Building cars and being a auto enthusiast taught me automotive photography, how to pose vehicles and the best angles to shoot, and edit. Not to mention pose models with the autos. Going to school for animation gave me the leg up with Photoshop and editing, teaching me much more then I thought I would ever use in photography. Moving to Alabama had taught me how to photograph my pets. Doing my own engagement photos taught me how to take portraits and give direction. Having my daughter, opened my eyes to my love of photography. Loosing my mom and grandmother, taught me how much photographs mean. The list goes on and on.

Even now, after many classes, upgrades in equipment,  and years of perfecting my talent I am still learning. Striving to be the best I can be and learning from my own life and mishaps along the way. The saying "Life is like a camera, focus on what's important. Capture the good times, develop from the negatives, and if things don't work, take another shot." could not be truer.

If anyone ever tells you they can just pick up a camera and become a photographer, they are very wrong. Photography is much more then buying a camera and clicking a shutter. Being a Photographer is not something you just choose, it is something that chooses you. Yes, I know that sounds super corny, but I stepped away from photography many times in my life. Never thinking that was career path and yet time and time again it found it's way back into my life. And I couldn't be happier. I love being a photographer and I LOVE capturing memories for my clients. 



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