I was going to be a model. I knew that was what I was going to do because my big brother Deedee told me so. He knew everything and I worshiped him, so clearly, he was correct. He loved to dress me up – the hair, the make up the clothes. For him I was a punk, a geisha, a Victorian peasant and anything else his imagination could muster. I was a perfectly compliant subject for him, happy just to bask in his attention and be told how beautiful I was. “Just stand there and don’t move an inch!! You’re gorgeous, Dahling!!”. While he happily wasted all Mom’s prized film on me. However, as I got older I wanted my picture taken less and less. Like so many young girls, my dream of being a model was dashed when Mother Nature gifted me with stubby little legs and a big ol’ booty. This was when I was around 12 years old, which was also around the same time I gave up on my dream of being a professional dancer, having been told by my dance teacher that my breasts were too big to ever be a ballerina.
Dang, now I am bummed out! Why do we have to tear down the dreams of little girls so much? My two-year-old niece told us recently that when she is grown up she wants to be a dog. I admire her style, I have seen how spoiled my dog is, that’s the damn life. Before too long someone is going to tell her she can’t be a dog. She is going to decide on a being a teacher or a dump truck driver or something else normal and boring.
Wait… where was I going with this? Oh yes, photography. Phew! That was a leap.
I don’t remember the first time someone put a camera in my hands, but I know that it was a LONG time ago. It was one of those old Kodaks that you had to buy flash cubes for. I remember that I loved it. I loved it WAY more than being my brother’s model or dancing. I remember in my mother’s last year or so of life, I watched her dive into photography. We drove around looking for things that caught her eye. She would get out of the car with her fancy Nikon SLR, she would snap away, framing, balancing, careful never to waste the precious film.
I know for certain I received my first camera for my 14th birthday. It was a 110 and I LOVED it. I still have the first pictures I took with it somewhere in a box. The quality of these photographs are truly terrible but I love them nonetheless; they are the beginning of my first genuine artistic endeavor. Instead of snapping candids my friends or family, these first photos are of wallpaper, the contents of my bedside table, and pyramids of Pepsi cans. I am sure whoever developed them thought that they were rubbish, but I thought I was an ARTIST. Truthfully, not much has changed since those days. The preciousness of film has been done away with for the abundance of the digital medium. My equipment has slowly but steadily gotten better, but my ascetic has largely remained the same. Food, flowers, and broken things that are no longer loved – these are my inspiration. I am now the one in the car waiting for things to catch my eye. Barns, fences, old country roads. People are too complex and loud for me. I find beauty in the quiet, in the mundane. I am the happiest with a tank full of gas, alone with the world and my camera. I am my mother’s daughter.
When I started publicly sharing the pictures, I was conflicted. I was pleased that people liked what I was putting out there. However, at the same time I was mortified because I have been taught by society that I am supposed to be embarrassed of praise and down play any genuine talent I might have. The first time I gave someone a framed print of one my pictures I felt cheap and tacky. Who was I to think that someone else would want to look at my work hanging in their home? But they did hang it in their home, and it is still there in their entryway. I see it every time I visit, and it makes my heart burst with gratification.
These days I feel more confident. I have had such positive feedback about my work that I have decided to take it public. It’s a risk, but I think the reward is worth it. I hope you enjoy looking at the world through my eyes.