finding my "why" | with kristen ryan

I have never been great with words, they escape me more times than not. I’ve always been the quiet and reserved person, better at listening and watching the world around me. I find comfort in observing.

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Growing up I experienced anxiety trying to come up with small talk with strangers, but as I’ve aged I’ve learned to embrace the awkward silence. Really there is no harm in it, so why should I put all that pressure on myself.

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I’ll never forget a teacher I had in my early college career, Professor Crabtree. He was an English Literature professor that only taught this one specific class, because he had a passion for it. His day job was something entirely different. This was not my favorite subject, I was only in the course because it was required. He taught us all about the classics: Tolstoy, Hemingway, Melville, Poe. Each week he would focus on one writer and would lecture not only about the writer, but why and how they wrote, and where their passion came from.

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Then we were assigned to write our own stories in the same style and mannerisms as the writers we discussed. Channeling those feelings the author may have had while writing whichever piece we chose. Never in my life have words flowed so easily onto my paper. There was a connection in my brain regarding the feelings I wanted to project. Feelings being translated into words, and into these stories I was writing.

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I remember having this fulfilling moment of satisfaction that finally I could empty out my brain of all these words that had been trapped inside for so long. After the semester ended I moved on to other courses and eventually the words, well the lack there of, caught back up to me.

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Now I’ve always had a love for photography. I even took a few classes here and there in high school and college just as electives. It was a fun hobby. Never did I connect that I could have that same self-revealing expression that I once found in my English class.

It wasn't until these last few years that I finally moved beyond capturing my families moments. I wanted something more, I wanted to  capture the feelings of those moments. It took me moving beyond the basics and techniques of photography to come to the realization of my "Why".

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Let me just say, I highly recommend learning those basics and technical terms like the back of your hand and I promise you will get there if you aren't already. Then after you do learn them, by all means break the rules if you so desire. But finding your "Why" is going to be your changing point. It was for me. Since my revelation I have been able to take photos with more intention than ever before. While I still capture the moments naturally as they happen, I pay attention to how it makes me feel as well and I am able to edit to that process.

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Photography has been such a huge outlet for me, especially in these last couple of years. Being someone that finds it difficult to express myself in words, this is one creative outlet that does not require me to speak. I can create and get lost in those creations. I don’t need to explain it to anyone or justify those feelings. My self portrait project that I began a couple years ago has been a giant stepping stone in my confidence and my ability to figure out who I am along side being a wife and mother. It has been my way of emptying out my brain of all the words and emotions and learning to deal with them properly.

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My passion for photography has transitioned and changed over the years, and it has given me a sense of confidence, finding a little bit of beauty in myself that in the past was overlooked. What started as a way to capture my memories has since shifted deep into self reflection and an emotional outlet, and turned into a desire to improve and grow and the ability to achieve my artistic vision. Where I once was striving to become an "artist" like all the other photographers I admire, who have inspired me along my journey, I now tend to put my head down and just do my own thing, focusing on not taking it personally if no one seems to care much about what I share, not being hurt by what others think about my work. Yes, I still have many artists that I look up to and admire, but I no longer strive to be like them. I respect their talent and admire their creativity, but I realize that is not my journey or my story.