Defining My Purpose and My "Why" | By Divya Wolf
Oh goodness, can I be honest? I am rediscovering who I am and it changes by the day. There are a few truths that I can easily list: I am an impulsive, adventure-seeking, and in-the-moment, detail-oriented girl who swoons over gorgeous light and shadows. I am a girl of many homes; I have lived across the United States and in Europe… and to this day I live for travel. I am happily married with two spunky little girls and currently live in Minnesota, but the rest depends on the day. Some days I even dare to call myself a photographer.
I have done an about face when it comes to my life as an adult. I started off out of college in the world of fast-paced Investment Banking in New York City. I raised funds for non-profit healthcare systems; however, while there I noticed that while I could get by and do the finance stuff, what drew me in was the problem solving and creative moments of my job. I left to go to business school in Chicago, got married, and shifted course, working as a strategy consultant for a few years after school.
After a difficult pregnancy, and a move for my husband’s job that took me over an hour away from an airport, I pivoted one more time. I knew that I loved finance, strategy, and problem solving…. and I also loved art, helping others, photography, and giving back to the world. To give myself the flexibility to be a mom, support a husband who travels quite a bit, and to manage a new part of the country to live in I decided to do my own thing, and that was my first time braving it as an entrepreneur.
It wasn’t enough. Being a solo entrepreneur, by myself, with a baby with severe reflux and a husband who traveled most of the time was hard. While I have always been an introverted extrovert I realized I thrived with working with others. So surprise surprise, I pivoted once more. This time I looked at all my skills and interests and started looking back at some of my interests that I had since childhood.
I had always been the family’s photographer. I had no idea what I was doing, but capturing the moment was something I started back when I was four and still to this day for all our friends. I was the one who whipped out the camera and documented the moment, much to the chagrin of my parents who have a countless number of rolls of film from every second of fireworks at Busch Gardens, Disney parades and every moment in between. So after two more cross country moves and on one New Year’s Eve, I decided that life was going to continue to be crazy, and I needed to prioritize myself, find something that made every aspect of my heart sing, and to really learn photography for myself and see if I could use photography to meet my inner need of staying connected and documenting moments.
Woosh, hopefully I haven’t lost you yet! After never really understanding how the exposure triangle all came together in my random flirtations with photography in the past, I decided to really learn how to use a camera (because let’s be honest, I used to only turned on the camera and click the shutter up till this point) so I scoured websites, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, read as many tutorials on the exposure triangle and what it meant to shoot manual, and took a few classes on the introduction to photography. Finally it clicked (ha!), I started understanding why some pictures worked and why others didn’t, understood what exposure meant and how to manipulate things to get the results I wanted and all I did was click, click, click until what started off as a foreign language began to finally become second nature.
I have gone through several additional periods of circling around, another child, a few more major scares, and many more moves! However, I continue to to define my purpose and why. It honestly changes every day, but one thing remains true: documenting our lives and preserving these moments continue to push me everyday. Some days I feel more creative, some days I am happy with a quick snapshot. What I have learned through my journey is that the moments that make my heart sing are seeing my children, our family, and friends live vicariously through those captures. To effectively make these still captures into stories validates what I am doing is right for us.
Given my schedule, I do take a few select photography family and commercial clients and offer mentoring, however, I have realized that when my schedule gets to full with these other opportunities I loose interest in my own work. There is nothing like playing around with technique and capturing the essence of my children to get me to want to pick up my camera once again. I primarily capture our everyday but underlying each image is how I currently feel about our journey. My goal with each piece is to remind me of where we were at that particular time, and sometimes I aim to make myself smile, other times I want to capture the moment for what it is. I want to continue capturing our everyday but infusing it with better technique, trying new things, and try to have each image tell its own story.
As I have grown in my work, I have loved building a photography community in which I can turn to for inspiration, support, and love. I am so honored to be here!