Leaving Your Legacy While Finding Yourself | by Leanna Azzolini
Hello there! My name is LeAnna Azzolini and I’m a mix between a very relaxed person who enjoys life to the fullest, and a dash of super neurotic (recovering) perfectionist. I’m a true 4 on the Enneagram and feel like it sums me and all of my adolescent struggles up in a nutshell.
I’ve been pursuing every dream I can think up since I graduated from college. Since then, I have carried the titles of professional actress, inner-city elementary teacher, real estate agent, professional photographer, and my favorite to date, Mommy.
About 6 years ago, I bought a cheap tripod and a $15 interval timer from Amazon in order to capture my pregnancy. I didn’t feel comfortable hiring and posing in front of a photographer, so I decided to do my own photos. I loved every minute of exploring this new form of self expression, but once I had my daughter, I unfortunately put my tripod and timer away. Not only was I feeling too overwhelmed to continue with my self portraiture, I was at an all-time low when it came to my self esteem. After a birth that caused a great deal of damage to my body, I just couldn’t find the desire to take or even look at photos of myself.
About 10 months later, I lost my Dad to a very grueling battle with lung cancer and emphysema. The day after he passed, my entire family sat in the living room going through trunks of old photographs, and reliving our memories with him when he was alive and healthy. It hit me then that I had been denying my daughter that chance to get to do this someday when I am gone. She won’t care that I had trouble getting my body back in shape, or that I wasn’t able to pull myself together and get my hair done each day. All she will see is her beautiful mommy and how much I loved her.
I wish I could say that I snapped back quickly and immediately began getting into the frame often. It took a while for it to sink in though, and my self esteem had a way to go still. I started documenting us together in selfie mode on my phone, but that’s about as far as I was willing to take things. Every several months though, I would spend some time getting us all dressed up and I’d set up some self portraits of us on the bed together. My daughter was still young, so the process was pretty grueling for me. I wanted to have more proof that “I was there too”, but man, it was daunting to get it all together. I just needed a final push.
At the end of 2016, I was feeling completely drained by juggling full-time motherhood with my photography business. I had been a professional photographer since 2011 and had tried specializing in basically every genre under the sun. I just wasn’t feeling the love for photography anymore and the busy holiday session season drove it home even further. My friend Adri De La Cruz (who didn’t know me at the time) announced that she was putting together a self portrait group and I jumped in very reluctantly. I figured that if I committed to a group and a project that it would hold me accountable, but I was terrified of the challenge.
What began as a way for me to capture a few more photos with my daughter each year, turned into me finding not only my love for photography again, but also finding myself. This project opened doors in my mind that I didn’t even know existed, and it allowed me to a follow a path to finding acceptance and love for who I am. I began to communicate my feelings in a healthier way…through my art.
This is why I created my course. I wanted to share with others that we can all find more self love by simply turning the camera on ourselves and exploring who we are from the inside out. If you have ever wanted to get in the frame, but didn’t feel you were capable, or lovable, or even beautiful, then this is for you. We ALL have our own unique beauty within ourselves that we can allow to shine through, if we’re only willing to explore it and believe it to be true. I want to show you the way and give you that opportunity to not only express yourself through your art, but to also connect your camera with hidden parts of your creativity.
There is no other genre of photography that allows you to create for yourself without having to check in with another person. If you’re looking for a new way to explore, create, express, and love yourself, then this course was made for you.