22 Nov Photography was Never Meant to be Mine
In my darkest hours, my love for photography was born. In 2009, along with the birth of my beautiful son, came a massive struggle with Post Partum Depression. During my maternity leave, I wanted to better document Web’s life so my husband bought me my very first DSLR… a Nikon D5000. I started becoming interested in how to take better pictures of him and dove off the deep end into tons of photography forums, tutorials, online classes and everything in between. When I started posting his pictures on Facebook, a lot of my friends began to ask me if I would take photos of their children and families. Everything exploded from there.
I found that when I got to be a photographer, I didn’t have to be “Mommy” or “Wife” or a victim of PPD. I got to be Amanda, smile maker and picture taker. It was an escape from my mommy guilt and anxiety and it got me out of the house. I began to shoot anything and everything while also working full time as a Juvenile Probation Officer. As my PPD started to get better, I suddenly noticed that I was letting photography swallow me whole. I was staying up until 2 and 3 a.m. editing sessions, skipping dinner with my family to answer inquiries, saying “just five more minutes” to my son when he asked me to play…. I allowed photography to claim me whole.
One night, my husband and I had a huge fight about how I had basically allowed photography to take over my life. Because I was shooting everything under the sun, I was editing at all hours of the night and shooting on the weekend, leaving zero time for my new family of three. It felt good to get away when I was drowning under PPD, but now that it was waning, I didn’t feel right about leaving my son and husband for another family to photograph. After three hours of yelling and fighting and talking about divorce, with tears pricking his eyes, my husband looked at me and said, “I may not like who you are right now, but I want to die with you.” Right then and there we decided that I would specialize in one field… senior photography. I was going to cut my market down to one teeny tiny niche and while it scared me to death, the thought of spending more time with family while also being able to do what I truly loved, thrilled me. It was a chance to keep my life and family together.
I’ve often joked about how if you told me years ago, I’d be a successful photographer and even considered a “leader” in the industry, I would just laugh and have you committed. In 2011, we decided to make photography my full time career. I have a degree in Criminal Justice and another in Psychology, and I traded it all in for photography. That never made sense to me. I’ve also asked God time and time again why he gave me photography…. what for? I just couldn’t understand it.
In 2012, he answered me. Photography was never mine. He did not give it to me… he gave it to my son, Web. Web was diagnosed with “Disruptive Behavior Disorder” and with that came a slew of expulsions from various schools, severe behavioral issues, and a ton of community judgment. And here I was, months later, staying at home with Web and being able to hire an expensive Nanny that specialized in special education. I’m here for him every day and am able to spend the countless hours helping him progress and start the path to our new “normal.” Even now… our journey is still taking us by surprise every day. We take one day at a time. Some days are met with punches to my face and bites to my arm, while others are met with my sweet baby boy. One day at at time. In 2014 he was diagnosed with four disorders: Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, and ADHD. These diagnoses rocked our family to the core and several days were spent in tears grieving the son we thought we would have when he was still in my tummy. We’ve given way to the possibility of him living on his own, and even wondering what his high school days will be like. My prayers have turned from detailed wants and wishes to the simplicity of a “normal life.” My prayers include sentences like, “Dear heavenly Father, please let him make a friend at school this year.” “Please let him have a good day at school today.” “Please keep him calm today.” I never would have thought those would ever be my prayers, but my family and I have learned that the word “normal” doesn’t exist in our world anymore… in fact, we have had to find our “new normal.” And we’re learning, day by day, to be ok with that. Without photography, I’m not quite sure where our family would be right now.
All this time God was preparing my family for our struggles… Web’s struggles. All this time He knew exactly what He was doing while I was just following along and claiming all the knowledge and talent. It was never mine… God never gave ME photography… it was never meant for me… it was Web’s all along.