When I first picked up my camera and decided to learn photography, I had no idea what that really meant. The technical aspect came fairly easily to me; after six months of continuous practice, I was able to create the images I wanted with minimal effort. And then I was surprised to learn that while it is important to know how to use your tools, photography is not about the camera or the lights at all really; it's all about the relationships.

At the beginning of 2019, I found an amazing group of photographers on Facebook and began to engage with them on a daily basis. I was encouraged to post my photos to receive feedback. I asked questions and used the information presented there to hone my skills. But most importantly, I built relationships with other photographers.

Now, photographers are an interesting group, when you really think about it. Anyone can be a photographer. Anyone! A 19-year-old college student can be a photographer. A 63-year-old retiree can be a photographer. A stay-at-home mom of four can be a photographer. Not one of these people, or any other people in between, will have the same point of view. Photography highlights this visually: my friend Jim is a foot taller than me, and when the two of us stand and take a photo of the same subject at the same time, our perspectives are different enough to notice in the final photos. Moreso, various photographers' shooting and editing styles take ordinary scenes and put beautiful and surreal creative spins on them--not one alike. Studying pictures created by other photographers makes me see how differently each individual sees the world. Learning photography, then, is like learning any other art. When I can communicate the way I see things through the photographs I create, I can help people see the beauty I see in themselves and the world all around them.

2019 brought an incredible array of beautiful families into my life. I officially started my business in March, after doing several free photoshoots for friends and brave volunteers. I will be forever grateful to my neighbors and my husband's coworkers for being patient first "clients." As I continued photographing my family, friends, nature, and pretty much anything and everything else, my skills grew and I gained confidence. Fall and winter found me busy every weekend, photographing newborns and families, and even a couple of weddings. The thing I love most, though, is showing people how I see them.

Look at all these people in the photos below. Do you see what I see? I see mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. I see people who are deeply loved not for what they do, but for who they are. I see joy and love, laughter and comfort. Many of these families shared stories of struggle, anxiety, emotional stress, and frustration. Many came to me in the midst of grief, or in the hopes of healing from pain long endured. But when I look through these photos, I see that for these moments, these snapshots in time, these people were happy, these people were with the ones who loved them most, these people were brave, these people were home.

In 2020 I intend to meet people where they are and show them the best I see in them. I want to show love and commitment, acceptance and dedication. I want to develop my reputation as a photographer who cares about my clients and makes real connections. I want to capture real, affirming, joy-filled love.