You wanted it and I’ve finally put together my "About Me" page. I really dislike talking about myself but feel it’s important if you’re to understand my mission and drive.
I grew up in small farming towns. My family followed the harvest, living the life of farm hands. Going to school was for more privileged kids, or so I thought.
My parents were absent at best, abusive at worst. My father was completely unapproachable and my mother was uneducated, lacking support from her family and broke. Her life consisted of being married to a much older abusive man and five children pleading with her to leave him. By the time she did, it was too late. There was so much damage done to all of us. She was not a caring woman, she never taught us about being girls, never said “I love you” and didn’t protect us from our abusers.
Growing up was a very hopeless time. In spite of the daily horrors I faced, I never once thought about committing suicide. I just wanted to grow up and get out.
Creativity was an outlet for me. I drew pictures and wrote poems and short stories. The little time I did spend in school, I did horribly academically but excelled in creativity. I never really had friends and was a depressed introvert by the time I hit my teens. I can’t tell you how much the arts kept me alive. Literally, it was all I had.
I loved looking at photos in magazines and fantasized about being like the models I saw. My heart would sink each time my daydream ended and I found myself just holding dirty tear stained magazines. Why couldn't I be pretty like that? Why didn't I have someone to tell me how pretty I was?
I kept all kinds of photos from the magazines while growing up - gluing them on the walls of wherever I was, in my notebooks and lockers. I suppose every girl did, but no one knew my reasons - they were too personal. Even though the models couldn't talk to me physically, they spoke volumes to me. Their hair - how it sparkled in the light. The makeup and wardrobe was so pretty. I just couldn't wait to get away and be like them. Needless to say, I did eventually get away but I never became one of those girls whose photos served as a lifeline to me.
I went from one devaluing relationship to another. Life was still very hard. I learned everything on my own and usually the hard way. What I did finally become was me. I just couldn't see it then. I married my amazing husband at 20 and my life changed forever. I met his incredibly normal family (in my mind) and I was hooked on the idea that I could now stop living in fear and try to make sense of my life.
I still admire fashion magazines although no one knew how I felt about them until now. I secretly wanted to be like one of the beautiful women in them. As time went on, my daydreams faded into dirty diapers and strollers. Having a family was so important to me. I needed it. I felt like I had to prove that I could be a good mother, a strong woman and a beautiful wife. And I did.
Life eventually led me back to where I longed to be as a creative person, only this time my venue was through a lens. My wonderful loving husband placed a cold chunk of metal and glass in my hands as if to say, “Start again. We will all listen to you this time.” So I did.
My story is this - I know what it is to feel shitty about yourself. I know how hard it is to put yourself out there and face rejection and even humility. I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and not feel beautiful. I know what it’s like to not ever feel good enough or pretty enough - no matter how supportive friends and family are.
I feel like I can tell anyone they are beautiful, even if it’s only through my lens. I know I can find beauty in you. I’ll help you have the strength to be on the other side of my camera and to see the beauty in yourself. I chose to stay with photography for this reason only, I feel like I can change the world one beautiful face at a time. Now I make beautiful images like the ones we see in magazines, like the ones I held onto as a child, the ones that helped me through so many hard times, the ones that made me feel like I could be anything I wanted. I now do this with everyday women just like you and me.