Why I Started (and Stopped) Avoiding Photography

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Up until a couple months ago, I was sticking my head in the sand. I wanted to be a blogger. I wanted to have a successful blog. I wanted to inspire others with my work. What I didn't want to do, was take my camera out of my camera bag.

My Pullip Doll, MJ (2009)

You would never know from my earlier posts (crappy iPad pics), that I used to be really into photography. Like SERIOUSLY into it. When I was in high school, my dad gave me his old Canon EOS Digital Rebel (300D) after he noticed me spending hours trying to take photos with my brother's point-and-shoot. I was collecting Japanese and Korean toys at the time, and it was so fun to use them to tell cute, simple stories. When my beloved dog, Lyric, was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma during my senior year of high school, I spent my last afternoon with her taking pictures. I lived my life with my camera.

This is what I looked like for most of 2009

Lyric's last photos (2009)

 I went off to college in fall 2009, and a (hand-me-down) Canon Rebel XT (350D) came with me. The sub-mirror in my 300D gave out, and my father decided to upgrade to a newer model and give me his old model once again. During my freshman year, I made my then-boyfriend's (now-husband) apartment into my makeshift photo studio where I could snap pictures of my toys for hours. I even got two photos published in my university's annual art and literary magazine.

Some of my favorite toys, Napoleon and the Re-ment desk (2010)

My sophomore year, I took my first formal photography class and learned how to shoot in manual mode better, which was tricky at first, but I've never looked back. However, I didn't like my classroom environment which saw my toy photos as meaningless twaddle. But that gets filed under my beef with the whole fine art thing. Regardless, I was forced to relegate the photos I wanted to shoot to my free time, while most of my class assignments were pictures I wasn't very excited about.

A college selfie (2011)

By my junior year, I was free from photography class, and went back to shooting what I wanted. But somehow, the magic dried up while I was away from my toys. I started sewing clothes for my dolls in an effort to rekindle my passion, but it never really ignited. Strangely, my photographer side and my crafter side didn't gel as well as I'd like. The more I sewed, the less I photographed. I didn't have an audience who I thought would appreciate my work. All my friends thought my toys were either creepy or childish. Eventually, the fun just fizzled out and I stopped taking pictures for fun.

A dress for Bonaparte (2011)

My senior year, I landed a job with campus publications as the lead photographer / photo editor / photography manager. I was in charge of four photographers, and for the first time in my life, I was the boss...and it sucked. I had to be the bad guy, tell people their photos were poorly shot, make them re-shoot, etc. I also had to take lots of photos, usually of subjects I didn't care to shoot. More importantly, I felt like I was documenting my final year of college rather than actually living it. I didn't get to experience things like my peers because I was watching through a viewfinder. Before I knew it, I dreaded pulling out my camera. Even after I upgraded to a Rebel XSi (450D), I was only taking pictures for work. When your hobby becomes your job, sometimes it takes all the fun away.

So after I graduated college, my camera mostly sat in my camera bag doing nothing. I guess I had subconsciously started to regard photography more like a chore or a burden than a hobby. Even though I stopped working as a photographer, I had not regained my appetite for it. 

When I started quilting, I took all my pictures on my iPad. When I started blogging, I told myself it was okay to use those low-quality pictures because I was a new blogger. I knew I could do better, but I avoided the truth.

Self-portrait (2011)

A couple months ago, I was feeling pretty blue. I was unhappy with myself because I felt like I wasn't measuring up to my own expectations. Not in a perfectionist kind of way though. I just felt I wasn't realizing my potential. I have a lot of goals related to my craftiness, like writing a book, designing fabric...being someone who touches and inspires others. I realized that while I was setting all these goals for myself, I was not going to meet them while I was so obviously slacking as a blogger and an artist. I knew I had to start taking more initiative. 

Writing my Heather Ross post was like my come-to-Jesus to moment. I sat down, and told myself, "This post will be different. This is the start of the new me." I wrote it honestly, putting down my words exactly as they were in my head. Then, I finally did it: I took my camera out of my bag.

I shot tons of lovely photos for Patty's blog tour! So cute!

Since then, I've set two major blogging goals for myself: write two posts per week and shoot photos I can be proud of. So far, I haven't let myself down. I even did a photoshoot with my friend Patty Sloniger for her blog tour for her new fabric collection since she did have a camera at the time. Everything turned out amazingly beautiful, and I'm so proud of myself.

In the end, it's more bittersweet though. I still haven't regained my former passion for photography. I don't know that I will ever love it like I used to. Truthfully, it saddens me deeply to see such a dramatic shift in myself. I'm hoping the fun will slowly sprout again after what feels like a winter of pretty photos. Maybe then I can find a happy balance. 

If you want to see some of my photography work, check out my portfolio website, felice-regina.com. A larger (pre-college graduation) collection can also be seen in my Flickr albums.

1 comment :

  1. I am a few years ahead of you in the chronology thing, but right with you in the realization that some things that were our passion before may not fit currently into our vision now. I have great faith that you'll blend them together again, in a new way that works for you. And I just followed you on IG, where you seem to have found your audience, I think!
    Elizabeth at OPQuilt.com, who is jealous that you have a Pullip doll