Photo Essay: Project Face

I’m a self-taught photographer that loves taking portraits of people but hate getting my own photos taken. I know, I’m so original when it comes to that. I’ve struggled with self-image problems for a very long time. At first it was because of my weight and then it was because my parents “gave me the ugly” (brownie points if you get that reference) and then it was because of my teeth. Yes, after 23 years of finding something that I didn’t like about myself and then slowly overcoming it, I finally settled on my teeth. My gap to be precise. Just so you know, I’m not a gap hater. I love them. I think they’re cute and add personality to a person’s face much like a scar or a mole. Just not mine. Overall, I like my teeth. I like how big and white they are. I have a big face with big features, I can’t have those tiny “baby teeth” as my mom calls them. My face is just too big for all that. So I love my teeth, I just hate my gap.

This hatred towards my gap came later in life. I’ve always had a gap, a big gap on top of that, and it never was a sore spot for me. I just saw it as part of me–one of my features such as my skin color of the shape of my nose and I’ve never wanted to change any of those things, so why close my gap. When I was in high school, I developed an abscess and after being hospitalized, I had that tooth removed. Years later, I realized just how much that changed things for me.

In the latter part of my freshman year of college, I noticed my gap was getting bigger. Because I was more socially active in college than I ever was in high school, I was taking a lot of photos and as I flipped through my photos one night, the horror dawned on me. I could see the progression of my teeth spacing out with every image I selected. That’s when I started to dislike my teeth. Leave it to me to go to college, cut off my hair, fall in love with myself and then find something that has always been there, to pick at.

So this photo essay means a lot to me because it’s the first time in a long time that I purposefully took photos so up close and personal, where everyone could see my perceived flaw.

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So, I’m Sort of A Freelance Photographer Now…

It all started back in January; my job was hosting some events and needed someone to take photos of it. They already had a professional photographer, but they needed someone to take photos for live and scheduled social media postings. Everyone knew that I went to school for film (scriptwriting) and they have all seen my study abroad photos so I was a natural choice. I did that event for them, using their camera and then for the next event, I used my own camera. I was using my Mirrorless Nikon 1 J4 to take the photos. I did another event where I was the second shooter and my images were used for promotional work. After that, I was hired on to do some non-work-related event photography and I even took some portraits for a media kit.

Up until all that happened, I’d never thought about photography as a second job or a career choice. I’ve always loved photos. I collect them, like a weirdo. I draw inspiration for my stories from the images I collect. In fact, I had 25GB worth of images on my old computer. I’d accumulated those photos over a decade span, but still, that’s a lot of photos.

When I started traveling, I realized I really liked taking photos to document things. So, if you ever get a peek at my travel photos, not the ones that I post, but the ones that are saved on my computer, you’d see pictures of everyday things. Photography turned into a hobby of mine. I had to take classes that covered basic photography when I was in college because of what I studied. I also was part of the photography club on campus, but again, I’d never thought about photography as a possible job until people actually started paying me to take photos. It’s silly, I know. Someone really had to say, “Here, take my money,” before I thought about the financial benefits of photography.

But once I started thinking about the possible financial benefits, I immediately wanted to better myself.  So, I went back to school… sort of… I took some online courses on photography from sites like Lynda and Skillshare (although I do not like Skillshare and I would not recommend it, the class I took was excellent). YouTube is also a great place to learn new things. There is a tutorial for everything and I needed tutorials for Lightroom and Photoshop. I also upgraded my camera. I went from my Mirrorless Nikon 1 J4 to my DSLR Canon 80D and yes, I did cry a little bit on the inside when I bought it. I cried out of excitement and out of fear because I knew I’d just spent a lot of money on something that may or may not make the money back. And I’m a stickler for at least breaking even, even on passion projects such as this.

I think I’m going to add a Photography section to this website to keep you updated on what I’m doing with my photography. I have two upcoming photo shoots and I can’t wait to share them with you.