In my darkest hours, my love for photography was born. In 2009, along with the birth of my beautiful son, came a massive struggle with Post Partum Depression. During my maternity leave, I wanted to better document Web’s life so my husband bought me my my very first DSLR. I started becoming interested in how to take better pictures of him and dove off the deep end into tons of photography forums, tutorials, on-line classes and everything in between. When I started posting his pictures on Facebook, a lot of my friends began to ask me if I would take photos of their children and families. Everything exploded from there.
I found that when I got to be a photographer, I didn’t have to be “Mommy” or “Wife” or a victim of PPD. I got to be Amanda, smile maker and picture taker. It was an escape from my mommy guilt and anxiety and it got me out of the house. I began to shoot anything and everything while also working full time as a Juvenile Probation Officer. As my PPD started to get better, I suddenly noticed that I was letting photography swallow me whole. I was staying up until 2 and 3 a.m. editing sessions, skipping dinner with my family to answer inquiries, saying “just five more minutes” to my son when he wanted me to play.... I allowed photography to claim me whole.
One night, my husband and I had a huge fight about how I had basically allowed photography to take over my life. Because I was shooting everything under the sun, I was editing at all hours of the night and shooting on the weekend, leaving zero time for my new family of three. It felt good to get away when I was drowning under PPD, but now that it was waning, I didn’t feel right about leaving my son and husband for another family to photograph. After three hours of yelling and fighting and talking about divorce, with tears pricking his eyes, my husband looked at me and said, “I may not like who you are right now, but I want to die with you.” Right then and there we decided that I would specialize in one field... senior photography. I was going to cut my market down to one teeny tiny niche and while it scared me to death, the thought of spending more time with family while also being able to do what I truly loved, thrilled me. It was a chance to keep my life and family together.
I’ve often joked about how if you told me years ago, I’d be a successful photographer and even considered a “leader” in the industry, I would just laugh and have you committed. In 2011, we decided to make photography my full time career. I have a degree in Criminal Justice and another in Psychology, and I traded it all in for photography. That never made sense to me. I’ve asked God time and time again why he gave me photography.... what for?
In 2012, he answered me. Photography was never mine. He did not give it to me... he gave it to my son, Web. Web was diagnosed with emotional / behavioral disorders and with that came a slew of expulsions from various schools, severe behavioral issues, and a ton of community judgment. And here I was, months later, staying at home with Web and being able to hire an expensive Nanny that specialized in special education. I was able to be there with him every day and was able to spend the countless hours helping him progress through Dr. appointments, therapy sessions, and start the path to our new “normal.”
Even in 2019... our journey is still taking us by surprise every day. In 2017 we caught Web’s school aids physically, mentally, and emotionally abusing him on camera after we had already been in a long legal battle with them. We couldn’t even hug our little boy anymore and he had turned into a shell of a child due to their abuse. We said no more. We were able to withdrawal him from public school and hire a wonderful teacher who has her Masters Degree in teaching for the same disorders that Web has. He is now happily homeschooled and a giggly 10 year old and so much mentally and emotionally better that we could ever hope for. We have been beyond blessed by God in ways that most cannot understand. Because of photography, we have been able to support our son in ways we NEVER thought or imagined.
All this time God was preparing my family for our struggles... Web’s struggles. All this time He knew exactly what He was doing while I was just following along and claiming all the knowledge and talent. It was never mine... God never gave ME photography... it was never meant for me... it was Web’s all along.