for as long as i can remember i have always been artistic or creative in some way. i was a quiet girl with long, untamed hair and bruised legs from rollerskating falls. i was quite dark when i was younger. i think looking back on those days now, i understand why. i didn't know what to do with my thoughts or my creativity, i didn't really understand who i was or what i was meant to be doing. i would spend a lot of time alone, i didn't like talking to new people and i always quiet at school and would mind my own business. i think inside i knew there was meant to be something more for me, something that i couldn't find by doing what everyone else was doing; i needed to do it myself.
in 2005, i was fourteen years old when colour and art began to really spark an interest in me. i opened up a deviantart account under the name of vampire-zombie for lack of a clearer vision of what me or my art was about. from there i became obsessed at watching other people's artworks. the first thing i would do when i came home from school is log on and flick through the endless pages of inspiration in this new world i discovered. at first i gushed over the work of traditional artists; drawers, painters, people who used mixed media. that slowly grew into discovering the world of digital painters and slowly after, the world of photomanipulations.
about a year after opening my deviantart account i decided to take matters into my own hands and try my hand at some manipulations. at first i would use stock images from the internet and post them up online and ask people what they thought. i never got much of a response. i would put together digital wallpapers of my favourite bands and things i thought were pretty. but after a while i realised all that was not for me. the next thing i did was grab my family's digital camera, it was nothing special - just a little compact camera, but i took it with me everywhere i went and took pictures of everything. there was something about documenting the everyday things; the mundane, the usual, that captivated me. it seemed like a whole new world of remembering had been opened up for me.
i was too scared to take pictures of people. even of myself. i would take landscape photos, pictures of my dogs and i would stop on the side of highways just to look at the flowers close up. i was particularly inspired by the sky and created conceptual photos every now and then.
eventually i tired of taking photos of the same things and started to take self portraits. i would set my compact camera on the floor on a ten second timer and would get photos of myself running through fields or jumping in the air. at the same time i would ask my sister if i could take photos of her sitting on rocks or walking through the water at the beach. my photos even when i started, were natural and full of movement, i liked the quiet moments, the little nothings.
i took photos of my sister and i for half a year while saving up for my first slr. the pictures i took and posted online were sold as book and album covers, much to my bewilderment. but i still took every offer i had with appreciation even though i didn't quite understand what was going on. when i finally had my pentax k1000d in my hands, i spent time learning how to shoot manually, with confidence that i could finally take control over the images i wanted to create. i shot self portraits and pictures of my sister for a little while longer before i asked two of my friends if they could model for me. my first ever shoot with someone other than me, was an alice in wonderland shoot. we set up a table full of teacups and pills, walked down to the supermarket to buy cupcakes to shoot with and spent the afternoon living a mad hatter's tea party while i took photos.
i didn't do any fashion shoots with my pentax camera. i spent that time learning what my style was, learning how to shoot portraits and work with people in photography. it helped me realise that i loved taking photos of people; but not in the ordinary way that the photography magazines i bought told me to. i liked to take photos while they are doing something, jumping, lost in thought, exploring the wilderness, brushing a strand of hair off their face.
i started to save up for a new camera. the lens on my pentax camera broke and i had been using it with a $7 film lens i found at the markets which wouldn't screw onto my camera so it sat on the body taped up with electrical tape. the photos were lovely either way, but i wanted something more. i started to have dreams of seeing my work up on billboards and to create art that would be remembered forever. somewhere my passion for taking portraits evolved into the desire to shoot fashion. i wanted a new challenge, to take photos of people i've never met before, put teams together and shoot for a reason (although just shooting for yourself is probably one of the best reasons to shoot). i wanted to put all my concentration into shooting and using the camera rather than trying to juggle both photography and modeling for my photos.
when i finally got my hands on my new camera, the canon 5dmkii, it was a breath of fresh air, like i was rejuvinated with inspiration. i had ideas and absolutely nothing in my way of making them happen. i planned a few shoots with some pretty models i found online and the shooting started. i spent a lot of time still just shooting for fun, i blogged all the photos i took and continued sharing my work online. eventually people started emailing me asking if i could shoot for them for money. i got to shoot book covers, photos for bands, eventually i started shooting model portfolios and lookbooks for designers. all of that came with me growing in what i'm doing. i never really pushed for that side of things or even thought about it all that much. they happened and all i tried to do was put as much passion into those jobs as i did for my personal work.
along the way my family and dan have helped me endlessly and supported me. i know a lot of people don't have that luxury, but i am so appreciative to have the love of the people who are close to me and even their help and advice when i needed it the most.
since then until now it has all been a wonderful ride of experiences and learning and meeting new people that i never expected to happen. i feel so blessed to be living the way i do and being able to do what i love every single day. i know i worked hard and i've been doing this for a long time even though i am young. since the beginning, taking photos would be the first thing i thought about and the only thing i would do during the day and night.
i guess i'm writing all this, not just to share it with you, but for myself too. even after years of taking photos and being a photographer i still feel unsure about myself every now and then. sometimes old feelings crawl back under my skin and haunt me for a couple of days. sometimes something doesn't go right and i question what i'm really doing. but the answer will always be i'm doing what i love and what makes me most happy (more than anything).
it's okay to be uncertain sometimes, it's okay if things go wrong and it's okay if you don't know where you're going or how to get there. i still don't know.
all you need to know is that if you're passionate about something; follow those dreams and make them come true. all the hard work is worth it if you enjoy the journey and live a full life knowing that you're living for something you love.