Sometimes I get so wrapped up in moving forward and the numbers game, comparing myself to this person or that person that I forget about what it felt like to be a dreamer.
Back when I started this journey I never intended to have people pay me to take their pictures. I was a young girl in a new town with very few friends and no family nearby. My college friends were scattered about, my family was in Baltimore, my boyfriend Sterling was down in Mississippi and I felt scared, sad and alone; with the notable exception of my friend Leslie and our Monday Margarita dinners at Nacho Mamas. But I had a camera. A new shiny DSLR camera (one of the big ones that can change lenses!)
So I started a blog. This blog. In November of 2011, I decided that I was going to use this blog and my new fancy camera to force myself outside and explore new places. Eight years later and I’m still here but I’m realizing that my voice sounds so different and the images that are here are SO different!!
The other day I was sitting at home and I thought I wonder what I was writing about on my blog back in January and February when I first started doing this. When I’m feeling down or not good enough I like to go back to the years when I first started and look through the images to see how far I’ve come. So here I was this past weekend, on the couch scrolling through post after post and instantly feeling better about my journey. As I look through the images and see things like a chipotle cup and the ice skating figurines from my mom’s Christmas village I felt like “wow” I’ve grown so much! Mixed of course with a feeling of – Lord girl you are so weird – why would anyone want to see pictures of your chipotle trash? And then it kind of hit me… I may have been braver back then.
Back then, before I worried about numbers and SEO and making sure everything was formatted appropriately, I was BRAVER. Seriously. I was out there month after month just taking pictures and sharing them, unreservedly. I was posting anything and everything and I LOVED it. I never checked stats, I just shared. Looking back at those pictures I remember so vividly LOVING them. Seriously go back to January of 2012 and look at my posts… The first one is of three Heineken beer bottles on a porch… and I was really proud because I got recognized for this picture on a photo contest website called Pixoto. Beer bottles… Not exactly what I photograph now.. 🙂 The second post is my adventures on the canal walk down in Richmond. I had found all this graffiti and city scenery and I just LOVED these images of a spray-painted billy goat under the bridge. Fast forward to January of 2014 and I started posting things like “Room Raiders pt. 1” all about my bedroom, my DVD collection, a chipotle cup…Looking back it seems silly but in reality, I was just putting myself out there and being 100% raw of the fact that I was learning. It may actually have been silly and a little weird but it was at least honest of where I was at that time.
Here’s the reality – I’m kind of envious of that. Looking back I first felt a little embarrassed. Like “Good LORD Alex why are you posting a picture of your DVDs?!” And then I think back and remember – I was trying to practice with depth of field. I was trying to learn about Aperture – I was still learning Manual Mode – I was still learning – I was EXPLORING.
In each of those posts from back in the archives, there is one thing that is very clear. I let myself be a learner. I was constantly reading and researching in a quest for knowledge!! I wanted to know everything! I wanted to know how people made their backgrounds blurry. How did they get those pretty bright light circles in the background? How did they use reflectors!? And so looking back on those old blog posts, I’m envious of that girl! The girl who just tried and tried and tried and tried and failed and failed and failed but also put it all out there and wasn’t nearly as scared as I would be now.
It’s ironic isn’t it – back then I wasn’t nearly where I am now with comfort and ability but I was way more fearless. I tried so many more things, took more images just for me and really put myself out there. Here’s the honest truth – I think that in the process of making this a business I lost sight of what photography looks like for me – just me. Now I think it’s time for me to try and get some of that back.
If you’re curious and want to look back – you should! Just go look at the right-hand navigation screen and scroll to the bottom until you see Archives. Then have fun and check it out. Also if you’re curious of my most proud images from way back when, here is a link to that old Pixoto account: https://www.pixoto.com/amrobertson My most awarded image on that site was of carrots. Yes, that’s right – carrots.
Portrait images by Virginia Ashley Photography