Transformation and Foster Kittens
When I sat down to write my first blog post, it wasn’t a matter of "hmmm…what in the world am I going to write about", but rather "where do I start??". Some of you are familiar with my previous blog, Breath of French Air (about my husband, Neal, and I moving to France for a year). Since we moved back to the U.S. from France and settled in Sacramento, SO much has happened!
Last summer I went to a Santa Fe Workshop in street portraits by Jennifer Spelman. We were told at orientation that the week would be transformative, and well…it was. I was so inspired by the workshop that I knew I needed more. So I started studying with a mentor, Kirsten Lewis (a legend in her field, might I add), and during that mentor program I did a personal project with the Sacramento SPCA. I have always loved animals - according to my husband sometimes in a creepy stalker kind of way. I completely disagree. But moving on… Choosing to work with the SPCA went far beyond my love for animals. My dear friend, Kelly, volunteers at the SPCA every single Saturday. On her day off from her full-time job, she gets up at the crack of dawn and spends hours walking dogs, and filling Kongs full of a doggy-delicious-concoction. AND she has said over and over that THIS is her favorite day of the week.
Finally I had to go see what all the hype was about. I don’t know about you, but my love for animals actually kept me AWAY from animal shelters. It was too heart breaking to see them sad and scared. I really could not understand how she could possibly enjoy it. Until I started my volunteer training.
The Sacramento SPCA is just a freaking cool organization. The people that work and volunteer there are… It’s hard to find the right words to describe them honestly. And I’m not one to be lost for words. Let me try…incredible, dedicated, loving, driven, happy, kind, welcoming, supportive. After my initial interaction with this amazing organization, I knew what my personal project had to be - documenting the volunteer program at the Sacramento SPCA. So late last summer I met with Bailey, their volunteer director to run the idea past her and see what she thought.
Bailey thought my project was a spectacular idea. So if you want to capture what our volunteers do here, she says, then here is a list of everything you’ll want to photograph. Needless to say it was a VERY long list. Dog walking, kong brigade, feral cat clinic, wellness/vaccine clinic, Adoptable Goods thrift store, Love on Loan…I think you get the idea. Next thing you know, I was photographing volunteers walking dogs, a volunteer at her home with foster kittens (one of my favorite sessions I might add), passed out kitties getting spayed at the cat clinic. Then there was the Gala, a fund raising event with a 50’s theme, which means lots of poodle skirts and Elvi (that would be the plural for Elvis - it’s true, I looked it up). Honestly I haven’t had so much fun or been so inspired since...well I don’t know when.
As I wrapped up the project and prepared my slideshow of images, I had another transformation. I want to be inspired and joyful every day. Not just when I’m doing the occasional photography session. I discovered a lot about myself since the year in France, restarting our lives here in Sacramento, and then reconnecting with my photography last summer.
What I discovered is that I am alive when I’m photographing. I’m alive, inspired, and time just slips away. I have this inner vision that gets to come out and express herself. And the other thing that I figured out is that I’m damn good at it. I’m good at connecting with people, and seeing them. With a camera I can tell their story and see the details that are important to them. Is it because I’m a good listener? I’m psychic? Not sure. All I know is that the more I photographed over the summer and fall, the more feedback I got about capturing the essence, telling their story, making them cry. Heck I made myself cry watching that SPCA slideshow! Yep, that’s what I decided I want to do when I grow up - make people cry. Well in a good way though, tears of joy. Are you with me?
So Neal and I had a talk. He suggested that I give this a real try. Make photography my profession, not just a part-time gig. Being inspired, instead of every day dragging myself through the job I didn’t really love (or at this point even like) and then doing my photography on the weekend when I had time. I reminded him of the paycheck thing - you know that lovely benefit of a job that ends up in your bank account every other week? He said we can do it. He said finances will be tight, but I am willing to suffer (he did use that word, but I think it’s probably relative) for me to have a chance to give my dream a real try. Wow. Now THAT is a pretty spectacular husband!
And here I am. After photography being my hobby for…(wait I’m doing math) 20 years (what really??) I am now figuring out how to start a new business. And I thought Photoshop was hard! For the past few months I’ve been working on the behind the scenes aspects - taxes, software, website, marketing… And now? Now I am ready to say it’s official. I am a creating visual stories of pets and their families. Real life. With messy, sweet, sloppy, crusty, furry, adorable little pets and the people who love them. Now that’s a freaking good job!
I would love for you to join me in this journey/adventure. For those of you that followed me to France and back, this could be just as exciting (but without the fresh baguettes). Part of what I loved about blogging before is getting to know people all over the world. So follow along, comments welcome, and I’ll see you at the next blog post.