A New Path
Today is November 1st. This is a day that holds great significance to me. It was on this day 3 years ago that my life changed. At that time I was doing free-lance wedding photography with a local studio, in addition to having my own photography business. I returned home from the last wedding of the season around 10:00 pm. I carried most of my gear into the house and ran back out to the car to pick up my camera; I placed it on my left shoulder. As I was stepping up to enter the house, I suddenly tripped and fell right on the cement. I hit very hard on my right arm, my dominant arm, and the hand I use to photograph. I was rushed to the emergency room where I was told my arm was broken. A few days later an orthopedic surgeon told me that I needed to have surgery as soon as possible and a plate and screws were needed in order to fix the fracture. The surgery happened as scheduled, and we thought it was successful. Within a few weeks of recovery, I was off to physical therapy. I worked hard. I went to every appointment and did everything they told me to, but I was continually in a lot of pain and not progressing like they thought I should. I told my doctor my concerns, but he insisted that I needed to push through it and work harder. He even told me my pain "it was all in my head." While my therapists, however, were concerned. Throughout therapy I was only able to lift my arm about shoulder height, with much pain. The doctor told me that that was as good as it was ever going to get. What did this mean? At this point I wasn't even able to hold my camera. Was I ever going to be able to shoot again? Would I have the stamina to ever shoot another wedding? During my therapy, I spent a lot of time in prayer and sought wisdom from others. I thought that the path/dream I had sought for over 14+ years was coming to an end. With reluctance, I started to accept this new path and realize that maybe it was time to move on.
Let me back up. It is important to understand my mental state prior to the accident. I had begun to seek a full-time career as a photographer because for many years it had to be part-time. It was always my dream to own my own studio and focus only on photography. When I started down this road, to my surprise, I found myself unmotivated and discouraged. I had a plan of action (so to speak), but when I would put it into practice or read books about techniques to improve upon, I would be overcome with intense fear, anxiety and inadequacy. I kept thinking that if I just keep pushing myself, forcing myself past the hard stuff, that I will be confident enough and "good" enough. Within these 14+ years, the industry changed drastically, and it put many full-time photographers out of business, effecting how I once envisioned my dream. No matter what I did, I always felt this anxiety and worry. However, I kept coming back to it, because I felt like I had something to prove and that I had to make this work above all else; it was my dream. Some friends even suggested that I take a break from it, but I was adamant that was NOT possible. I had to keep going, keep trying, and keep pushing. I was always so concerned about being a success and achieving the dream. I was also constantly comparing myself to everyone else in the industry and trying to measure up to everyone else’s standards. I had placed my dream on a high pedestal that always seemed unreachable. So, when the accident happened, and I thought I was going to have to give it up, it felt bittersweet. The bitterness was giving up the years of hard work, study, and practice on my craft. The sweetness was the relief of not needing to push myself anymore. So, I surrendered my whole will over to God. I was lost.
After therapy was over, I felt discouraged and confused. The doctor said, "This is it," and my physical therapists were mainly concerned that something "just isn't right." A friend called an orthopedic surgeon she knew about my case, and I decided to get the second opinion. With my first phone call with them, I could tell that something was different. They were so kind, eager, and understanding. At my first appointment, they blew me away and spent 2 hours with me! They listened to me intently and decided to do a CT scan along with some more x-rays. The first doctor never wanted to do a CT scan, and the second doctor also wanted to do 2 other angles of x-rays that the first doctor never did. When the results came back we found out that a screw from the first surgery was put right into my tendon, the plate was digging into my bone every time I would raise my arm (hence, why I wasn't able to raise my arm higher then my shoulder), and that my humerus was also broken! This new revelation left me with many emotions. I was angry, confused, and relieved. The doctor assured me there is good news, but it would require another surgery. The fracture had healed, so they would be able to remove the plate and screws, but they would need to repair the humerus. The main thing with this surgery is that the recovery would be 12-18 weeks, then even more therapy! We knew that this was the best option for long term recovery. During recovery, I was very limited and was unable to do many everyday tasks for a long time; I was forced to rely on others for so many things. The recovery time did bring struggle, pain, and suffering, but it also brought healing, rest, and contemplation. I came out of that season with an arm that was almost 100%!! Because I had pretty much given up on the idea of being a photographer, I was no longer tied to that chain and the "old" dream. God was building up in me a new dream. A dream of hope, peace, and new life.
I began to see doors open up and started learning more about birth photography and birth from friends that were dulas. I decided I would take on a few birth clients and make sure that I was really up for this before jumping in full force. In each birth, I realized that there was no longer the worry and anxiety that I felt before. I felt calm. I liked that the pace was so much more comfortable and not 10-12 hours of fast paced shooting, like a wedding. I felt like a fly on the wall, seeing things like no one else, and I loved it. I had found my sweet spot! I also realized that all my years as a wedding/portrait photographer had prepared me well for this. As a wedding photographer:
I have to be flexible.
I only have one opportunity to get the images.
I have to work in various light changing situations and think and react quickly in those situations.
I deal with many types of people all in different emotional states.
I have to remain calm in the midst of crisis to keep the attention off myself and help make the experience special.
I realize that these families are allowing me to enter into one of the most important days in their lives, so my presence is valuable in capturing this milestone event.
What I love the most about the similarities between wedding and birth photography is that I get to tell a visual story for a family that will last a lifetime. They can instantly be transported back in time, reliving those amazing moments that were woven together to create the beginning of a new journey.
Soon after this newfound love was born, I began to think about other ways that this same visual storytelling could be used and my heart was pulled toward adoption. I had some good friends that told me that they were going to be able to adopt the two boys they had been fostering for years. She wanted family pictures and I was more then willing to take them. The more I thought about it, I asked if she wanted me to come and take photos at the courthouse (before and after). I soon realized that this too coupled amazingly with birth stories. It is just another way to grow a family.
Thus, began Seek Studios...
Today, November 1st, 2017, is officially the first day of a new journey for me. A day where Seek Studios has transformed and become a reality, an extension of me and my heart. I am eager to officially start down this new path. A photography that documents the growth of a family in many different ways. In whatever way you choose, I will find those breathtaking moments that help tell YOUR story.