Welcome back to another Sunday blog post! This post actually lands on a very special day. On this day, 24 years ago now, I was brought into existence with nothing but my birthday suit and a mind full of big dreams. Although me celebrating my birthday is totally what I’m going to be doing today, that’s not what I want to focus on for this post. I want to talk about photography actually. I want to talk about photography in relation to how I have interacted with it and how it has developed me as a person so far.
When I talk about photography, I’m speaking about getting in front of a photographer that I’m paying for professional pictures of myself; not a standard selfie. I started doing photo shoots a few years ago with a fellow alum from my high school. I noticed he had been expanding his portfolio and that his shots were really good. Seeing as though I needed high quality photos of myself to up my professionalism, I reached out and we began going around Canton and Cleveland taking photos. Although I love being in front of crowds and I love performing, I must admit that being in front of a camera has never been comfortable for me. Honestly, once we started taking pictures, I had no idea what to do. It was like someone had stripped my clothes off in the middle of a public place; I was uncomfortable and and felt vulnerable. I had never really enjoyed how I looked in photos in the past so, intentionally trying to take pictures to be used on my website, in promo material, and on social media added a ton of stress to my experience. However, my photographer, Shane Stockall, was more than relaxed and very supportive during the process…whether he realized I was nervous or not. After a few sessions we got some really nice shots and I began feeling more relaxed during shoots. I eventually somewhat accepted that I wasn’t going to look amazing in every photo and that some poses or facial expressions I attempted were just not going to turn out perfect. I’m very grateful for Shane and him being the one to start me out in front of a camera. This made the transition to the next photographer I currently work very smooth.
After a few outdoor sessions with Shane, I decided I wanted to do some indoor studio sessions and start shooting photos for my album. Since Shane didn’t have a studio, this wasn’t entirely possible without renting a space. This is when he recommended I reach out to a friend of his and my current photographer, Angie Smith. Inside Angie’s studio is where I really felt myself growing and feeling confident in front of a camera. I had told myself that these photos I was doing with her meant something bigger to me. These photos would be the ones that people see the most (as they’re used in a lot of my social media posts) and these photos would be the ones to show my personality the most. I wanted to convey my feelings, my brand, and most importantly, myself through every photo. Much like how I was with Shane in the beginning, I was pretty nervous for pictures; especially with the added weight of attempting to take my look to a different level. Luckily, I felt a pretty instant click with Angie as she is very personable and super encouraging during sessions. As we began taking shots, I began attempting to relax my mind and let myself…..well, be myself! After two sessions with Angie I noticed much of my anxiety leave. With her direction, and my newfound willingness to experiment with my photos and how expressive I was, I started getting some really, really awesome photos. The reason I’m talking about all this is because of how liberated I felt after my recent photo shoot. For the first time, I felt confident expressing myself in front of a camera and I was happy with how I’ve progressed. When I was younger, I had trouble expressing myself in the ways I wanted to. I was very worried about how people would perceive me or treat me for acting like myself. I’ve made a ton of progress in this department, and tackling another hurdle to my confidence, again, felt liberating. Being at peace with my self expression has been a goal of mine for a long time and I finally feel that I have fully made it. Photography offered me a form of therapy and an outlet through which to build myself up. So in conclusion, thank you to Shane and Angie for the encouragement, patience, and willingness to help me throughout the photo taking process!!!
Thanks for stopping by for another Sunday blog post! Remember to come back next Sunday for a new one! Remember to keep streaming the album and sharing it with everyone in the world.
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