>Personal-Finding my Way

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It has been a long journey for me, one that is of course still unfinished but I am astounded by the progress I have made. Moving to Tampa from Maryland after a very difficult time in my life, pursuing my degree in Digital Photography, and conquering some demons I never thought I could conquer. And yet the last 2 years have also gone so fast! Yes on September 15th I will have been living in Tampa for 2 years!
Since finishing school and starting up my business a few months ago, I have been struggling to figure out exactly what kind of photographer I want to be. My website and business cards describe me as a Portrait/Pet/Wedding/Event photographer but somehow this rather generic description has not sat well with me nor do I find it very inspiring. I am not a fan of the generic. Our culture/landscape is now permeated buy strip malls which contain the same stores wherever you go. Most restaurants are chains, you have to hunt for unique, quality food. Then there are the chain photo studios-don’t get me started on them. The media-enough said!
Yes I very much want to photograph people, and also animals, and especially people, animals and nature in unique places, many of which I have not yet traveled to. I want to connect with the people I photograph and present their stories and dreams (or sometimes let them tell these in their own words) here along with their photos. This in itself is amazing as for a very long time I was very shy about meeting and talking to people. There was no rational reason for this, it was simply ‘the way I was’ and I accepted this even though it made me miserable. I guess I needed something drastic to happen to pry me out of my shell and it finally happened! I will not say I am all the way out but I am getting there!
Before moving here I mostly photographed animals and nature because they did not make me nervous. It amazes me how few photos I have of some of even my oldest friends and the ones I do have are snapshots, nothing original really. So now when I look at the portraits I have taken in just the last 9-12 months I am astounded by how far I have come. I cant take enough photographs of people now and I feel I get better with each session I do. It is amazing how much the human face can change, due to expression or emotion in just a few seconds.
There is a lot of doom and gloom out there, the media seems to enjoy focusing on the worst people and events in the world. However there are many unique interesting people out there, people who are doing well now, or are pursuing dreams like I am and will do well in the future. There are amazing people places and things all over our world, many of which are never covered on the travel channel. I would like to seek out these people and places, focus on the positive good people and things in our world.
So where do I start. This brings me to the announcement of a project I am starting this week. Recently I discovered the website meetup.com. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a site where you can find groups of people with various things in common who ‘meet up’ I highly suggest it to anyone looking for a way to get out and meet people and really wish I had known about it when I first moved here(FYI it is a nationwide site). Anyway after joining some photography related groups I searched under ‘travel’ as that is something I am interested in and found a group called ‘International Friends’ it is a group made up of people who have moved to the Tampa area from all over the world and the U.S. as well. I have never met so many new friends so fast in my life! It is so wonderful to see so many people from so many different places get along so well. Belonging to this group has inspired me to want to photograph and interview a different member each week the results to be published here on my blog. The first person I will be featuring is the beautiful Tanya, who came up with the idea for International Friends. I hope to have her photos and story up tomorrow. I had no idea when I signed up to join this group how much fun it would be or the positive impact it would have on my life. Despite the way it seems sometimes there are a lot of good people out there, it is better to get out and try to meet some of them then to sit around doing nothing! Until tomorrow…
Stephanie

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