I am a photographer

In the last six months, I’ve been dealing with “labels.”  I don’t like the label “ex” (as in husband or wife) or “step” (as in mother, sister or brother). These have negative connotations. You don’t read fairy tales about the beautiful, loving stepmother or hear comments that are raving about someone’s wonderful “ex-husband.”

In a completely different direction, but just as uncomfortable for me are the words “beautiful,” “artist” and “photographer.”

I have come to the realization that I am beautiful. I can even say it out loud without flinching. I am beautiful. It is sad to think that it has taken me forty-seven years to reach this point in my life. But, I’m there! I know without a doubt that I am beautiful through and through. I have much to offer to others. There are areas of my life that I would like to change or improve, but I am still beautiful. By media standards, I am more of the “before” photo than the “after” …. but I no longer use the media’s standards to judge my own personal worth or quantify my beauty. I love who I am. I accept myself, “warts, splinters and all.” I am beautiful. Praise God.

So, the new “label” to get past? Well …..

This weekend, as I spent time in south Georgia with family and friends, I found myself with Della watching Madeleine dance.  Of course, I pulled out my camera and started snapping some frames.  As the morning went on, I became a little more brave and moved around the room for different perspectives as the girls and the instructor didn’t seem to mind my presence.

Della's daughter, Maddie, on the leftAt the end of class, Della made an announcement that went something like this:
“This is my friend, Karen.  She’s a photographer.  Will any of your parents be upset if she posts your photos on Facebook?  I want to make sure that we have your permission to do that.”

At least, that’s what I THINK she said …. to the best of my memory.

I was so thrown for a loop by her statement, “She’s a photographer,” that I had a hard time following the rest of her statement.

There I sat with my little Sony Cybershot … my camera that grabs great shots IF the lighting isn’t TOO low and IF the people within the viewfinder and fairly still. My camera that looks JUST like the camera that most of these girls probably have in their own bags, or at home on their dresser, or on a shelf. My camera that OFTEN misses the shot that I WANTED because my “snap” comes way too long after I press the shutter button.

I was almost embarrassed. How can I call myself a “photographer,”
when I don’t “look” like a photographer?
And there it was … that labeling thing that we embrace
because we don’t LOOK like something certain …
we choose to believe that we don’t qualify …
we think we’re not “good enough.”

And … what does a photographer “look” like anyway? *rolls eyes*Why is it I might easily say,
I’m a secretary, a real estate agent or a homemaker?
I’m a school teacher, a nurse or a cashier?
I’m a tax preparer, a chef or a housekeeper?
But, I choke and stutter over the statement,
“I’m a photographer?” or
“I’m an artist?”

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I feel this way because I so admire creative people who make money at their craft. I am in awe of most craftsman whether they be blacksmiths, painters, writers or sculptors. And maybe my inability to call myself an “artist” is linked to my struggles with self-worth. I’m not sure, but I’m so thankful that God is helping me work these concepts out,
walk these things through.

What I DO know is that
I’m in mid-air, jumping over these hurdles.
I can now say, “I am beautiful.”
“I am an artist” and “I am a photographer,”
will roll off my tongue easily soon ….
not in a prideful way
but just “matter of fact.”
Because, I have the heart and the eye of a photographer
and the creativity of an artist.
These are gifts God has given me.
He didn’t give me a wonderful sense of direction.
He didn’t give me a gift with numbers.
He didn’t bless me with a love for toddlers.
And so I’m not a land surveyor, a CPA or a daycare worker.

Della's backyard in Cairo, GA
But, he did give me an eye for composition
and an understanding of the beauty of light and shadow.
I am an artist.
I am a photographer.
And I am beautiful.

May I ask you a question: What labels are you wrestling with these days?

4 thoughts on “I am a photographer

  1. Since retiring this year, my old professional labels have been replaced with retiree…hmmm

    Throughout my working years, I rarely thought about labels knowing that I held most dearly, most lovingly, those that expressed my close personal relationships…mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc.

    Now that I too am reinventing myself and thinking about my role in this life, I recently remembered an assignment for a college speech class. Like you, I attended college and received my degree in my forties. The assignment was to describe ourselves, to give a short speech about who we are. A friend of mine who was in the same class began her speech with the statement that she could tell us that she is a wife, a student, an employee but that since all of those labels are situational and may or may not have a currently unknown expiration date, none of those labels would tell us who she reeally is. She went on to talk about her need to continue to learn, about her desire to experience activities that were beyond her comfort level, about her art.

    That speech has stayed with me because of the truth of it. We often think that those situational labels define us, when in fact that is not necessarily who we really are at the core of our person.

    One of my current dilemmas is what label I use to describe my relationship with my camera…a simple G9. Even though I have shot more than 27,000 frames with it in about four years and the folks who see the results are often impressed, I currently describe myself as a cropper rather than a photographer…thank goodness for digital photography and the ease with which I can get a great photo out of a not-so-great SOOC image…haha!


  2. Beautiful, heart-felt post!!! i am forwarding a link to my daughter, Ashlyn. I think she will appreciate this post, as she is also a photographer, who struggles with the question, “Am I good enough?” I encourage you to take a peek into her life — http://capturedbybeauty.blogspot.com/ I think you will be blessed by her insights! oh, and you forgot one important label — you are also a writer.


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