22 Years & 79K+ Photos Later, I Am Finally Unafraid

22 years & 79K+ photos later, I submitted my photos for the FIRST time to a Call For Art. I wasn't ready before. But I damn sure am now because being unafraid is powerfully freeing.

I captured my first photo the month of my 13th birthday in the year 2000.

That sentence sounds like an ominous opening to an ominous movie…

Not just add a dun dun dun and you got yourself the first sentence to a mystery.

Sorry. Got sidetracked for a moment,

I still remember the photo I took, even though I can’t find it anywhere. Heh, it’s a mystery where it went.

It was a photo I took on a Downtown Portland street, looking East to the Willamette River. But between me and the other side, was a bridge onramp (or offramp, I dunno). And between it and the riverfront was the Giant Ferris Wheel because it was June and the Rose Festival was boomin’.

It became my FAVORITE photo.

It’s become a whole thing in my family. The Photographer’s Curse and The Saga of the Missing Photo.

I CLAIM IT! That could be an epic story. And it will be because I am going to write it. So MINE!

Ok, ok. Back on track again.

My mom bought me my first  SLR (single lens reflect) PRE digital days and changed the course of my life forevermore.

My Origin Story

My First SLR Camera.

I finally asked my mom the other day why she bought me a camera.

For some reason, I had built the day up in my head to be the best day ever. That it was this grand gesture, and that she bought me a camera to see if I could find my passion.

I had built this idea up so impactful, it was like coming home every time I remembered that life-altering day.

But, the reason was so much less spectacular and definitely not as grand. She said that she liked photography but her eyesight was deteriorating and couldn’t get the shot anymore, but knew I was a little creative, so maybe I might enjoy photography.

Basically, she bought me a camera to live vicariously through me.

Little did she know, it was the best day of my life because she helped me escape my pain through photography.

Snap. Capture. Photo. Repeat.

Regardless of why she bought me my first camera, I am pretty sure she quickly regretted the purchase.

Developing film was NOT cheap, even back then.

And I seemed to take a LOT of photos. A LOT, a lot of photos.

I still have a bag of like 20 rolls of undeveloped film. Partly because I couldn’t afford to develop them and still can’t, but mostly because I always forget that bag exists until I get a spurt of cleaning.

But when I wasn’t at school or sleeping, I was taking pictures.

Not unlike today.

It took me way too long to find out how many photos I have uploaded to Shutterfly, but I discovered that I have 79,197 photos uploaded from just 2011 to December 2022.

Give or take about 5,000 because of duplicates, screenshots and memes that I uploaded too, and the ones on my phone that I haven’t uploaded yet.

But wow. That’s insane.

Just thinking about THAT many printed photos makes me sweat. I would need a whole damn room dedicated to my photo albums. Dang.

Thankfully, today, all my thousands upon thousands upon thousands of digital photos are either uploaded to “the cloud” called Shutterfly or saved on an external hard drive.

I don’t print any photos any more. I just have too many. How do you choose from over 70K photos?

Which is an interesting conundrum to have because, with the 70,000+ photos I have taken since just 2011, we don’t have any photos hanging up in our house. Not a single photo of us, or any of my more artsy ones.


I may need to fix that this year… ahh the Photographer’s Curse: so many photos, too many decisions.

Moving on.

Anything And Everything

An accidental shot that has been added to my arsenal of photography techniques

I capture what captures me. I shoot what mesmerizes me. I like to think that’s true of any artist of any medium.

We have our own muses that inspire us.

I photograph the real, the raw, the nitty, and the gritty.

I like to bring a sense of realness and authenticity to my photos, but in a contrastfully, visually striking manner.

My goal as a photographer is to leave a greater impact and make a connection between the viewer and the subject manner.

At least, that’s what I hope my viewers gain when they see my work. But, now I’m curious. I may have to take a census, but I am curious what the people who actually see my work, would say. Adding this to my Habitica to-do

And, I’m back.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

From people to animals to buildings to landscapes to graffiti-covered train cars to anything and everything in between, you name it, I can probably find a photo I once took of it.

The subject matter isn’t my muse, though. My muse is my camera.

It is when I am behind the camera, that I connect deeper with the scene in front of the camera.

I take abstract photos because I find beauty in the chaos.

I capture animals for their wildness because as hard as you try to pose them, animals are gonna do what animals are gonna do. Like, be wild. Just like me…

I take snapshots of flowers for individuality and persistence and candid photos of humans for their real emotions.

I haven’t taken many architecture/urban photos, at least I haven’t in a while. The ones I do take are because I found something intriguing about their character.

I take photos of nature and landscapes for the beauty that is all around us and photos of things and objects to remind us not to take the every day, seemingly mundane, boring parts of our world for granted.

You could say I take photos of our natural world to remind us that we are all connected.

I capture things, humans, animals, and objects in movement because of the story it tells.

Goodness, gracious. I am totally overthinking this.

Giving Myself The Chills

Sometimes, all of those reasons listed above of why I take the photos I take, they all combine and a photo will end up giving me full-body chills.

I photograph because when you freeze the scene and focus on the candid because real life is a big ball of beautiful chaos that deserves to be remembered in all its glory.

If it sparked something in me to make me stop, it made me stop for a reason.

And when something makes me stop, I wonder why.

When I wonder why, that’s my cue to change perspectives much like I change lenses. Or, rather, used to. Now I just zoom in and out on my phone. Sentiment remains.

I take photos of things that make me stop because I know someone is out there, who will also feel a similar spark that will spark their curiosity to wonder why.

Back. It. Up.

My first picture was snapped in June 2000, 22.5 years ago.

According to Shutterfly, I have uploaded 79,197 photos since 2011.

And that isn’t nearly all of them. Just the ones uploaded to Shutterfly, leaving 11 years’ worth of albums upon albums of pre-digital age printed photos, uncounted.

And that’s not counting the thousands upon thousands I had stored on a desktop computer that got attacked by a virus and are forever gone but didn’t have access to something like Shutterfly to back them up with.

Those were some sad days. I felt like I lost a limb. But that was the moment I learned the importance of “back it up, back it up again, and back it up once more just in case.”

I totally came up with that, but, to say I am OCD about making sure my art – whether it be words, designs, or photos – is backed. the. fuck. up.

So, if you are counting, I think that’s like a gazillion photos I have taken over the past 22 years.

If only fear didn’t hold me back.

Plus Or Minus A Few Months

Now, those photos weren’t all back to back. There were some months, some years, that my photography took a backseat to whatever chaos or fog surrounded me.

But all those photos, when I look at them again and again and sometimes again, they throw me back in time, where I am behind the camera once more, back in my happy spot.

Each photo helps me remember what was so special that I was pulled to take that particular photo.

I can remember where, when, and the emotions I was feeling behind the camera.

It’s kind of like I have a photographic memory because of my photography. But only a photographic memory in relation to my photos, of course. Not for anything useful, for like trivia night.

But more than that, each photo helps remind me to see the world around me a little differently.

Visual Psychology

Each photo that makes me see the world from a different lens, puts me in someone else’s shoes.

It’s a nifty trick that my brain likes to play. It helps me stage the photo or get just the right image from a different angle. A different perspective. An angle a viewer may have never thought to look at our everyday world from.

In just a few seconds, I often look and wonder, “what would someone say if they had never seen XYZ before this photo, my photo? What would they think? Feel? See? Or what if they have seen XYZ?”

This intense depth I view my art with is what has held me back from sharing my talent with the universe. I was convinced I was overthinking what my art means.

I was afraid to let anyone see the most important thing to me, for fear it would be ruined because the entire world would tell me I wasn’t good enough. Logical? Not if you have depression, anxiety, a serious case of imposter syndrome, and a boatload of self-doubt and no self-love.

But then, something changed 90 days ago, and I basically said”fuck it.”

Bold, Striking, Powerful

Before we get to what I did after I basically said “fuck it”, I need to confess something. It’s time to rip off the band-aid and let it be known how much of a fraud I am.

I used to despise the mere idea of editing a photo. I thought it abhorrent and that it took away from the originality and the raw.

That applying a filter takes away from the natural beauty.

It took me a few years to even upgrade from a film SLR to a DSLR. Not surprisingly, that was one of the periods I stopped taking photos altogether. Cell phone photos sucked at the time.

Fast forward to now, and here we are.

I won’t publish a photo without seeing if I could make it better, more powerful, more stunning, with a few edits. Just a few.  

I still prefer to capture the raw, candid, vulnerable moments of life, but I am not shy of a little staging behind the scenes and in post-processing.

I can’t believe I am admitting to this, but I freaking love editing photos now. I am a convert.

Although, I do have boundaries and I will NEVER change the appearance of a human to make them “more beautiful”, whatever the fuck that means.

Nowadays, I even have a pattern when it comes to editing.

Over the years, I have finally found the feel I want my photos to have, what I want viewers to feel, and finally finding that feeling is powerful. Pun intended.

I start by increasing the contrast, saturation, and highlights, and then decrease the exposure and shadows to create a photo that is bold, striking, and full of depth.

Sometimes, when I want a photo to be lighter, “airy”, or “dreamy”, I up that brightness and light balance.

And don’t get me started on black-and-white photos. B&W photos have my heart and soul.

My Soul Hearts Black And White

For me, when the colors are stripped, my focus, well, focuses.

Most of my photos are in Black & White because Ansel Adams is my hero and also because Black & White is simple, peaceful, striking, calm and a change of pace in a world full of color.

However, while Ansel Adams focused on landscapes and our natural world, I love every subject matter in B&W.

Some subject matters look MUCH better in color, but when I strip the saturation, B&W makes us stop and see our everyday world a little differently.

Whether it be an abstract photo or a candid human one, without color, your eye travels along the lines and through the shadows, taking in the entire scene.

The little details often overlooked in full color, draw the viewer’s eye rather than sending them scattering by.

But, photography, like any art form, is subjective. What I see, is not what someone else is going to see.

Where I see powerful, others might see aggressive.

Sure, it’s the same image. But it’s not the same feel. And that’s called the Human Experience. We all have our own experiences, our own way we perceive the world, and thus our own way we interact with our world.

Neurodivergent or not, the Human Experience is unique.

While I might find my image powerful, others are going to see darkness and be instantly turned off because of THEIR perceptions of the world.

And I hid behind that knowledge for 22.5 years. Maybe not in the same way over the years, but I let the fear of other people’s opinions and perceptions of the world hold me back.

I was powerless. Logical? Not at all. But my brain convinced me otherwise.

Imposter Syndrome

I am obsessed with taking photos. Actually, obsessed may be an understatement. Super obsessed? Goddess of Obsessed? Eh.

I have my camera at the ready at all times and rarely miss an attempt at a shot. It may not come out but at least I tried.

There are even sometimes I may have waited a little too long to get the shot and the scene passes. Something I am trying to get better at.

I have even somehow trained my husband and girls to point out things to take photos of. Whether we are on a road trip or a grocery trip, they got my back.

And yet, I ONLY post some photos on my FB feed for my close friends and family.

My family and friends are required to be nice to me and like my shit. It’s the law of The Inner Circle.

Just kidding. But, my inner circle is, and always has been, amazingly supportive.

I never ONCE even thought about getting my photos shown in a gallery. At least, not before I created my Living List (another story for another day).

Just because I love my art, doesn’t mean anyone else will.

At least, that’s what I used to believe.

I have taken probably 100K photos in 22 years, but yet, I was drowning with Imposter Syndrome.

I did submit a photo to the Oregon State Fair photography exhibit once during high school, and I won an Honorable Mention (I think? Maybe it was 1st place? I can’t remember, it’s been 20 years and I don’t even remember what photo I submitted).

But that was the first and last time I ever submitted my art to a competition or a gallery.

Not because I never wanted to, or stopped looking for competitions or places where I might be able to put my photos up.

I just, couldn’t.

I read the instructions, got the photos together (never printed them though), but could never hit that stupid submit button.

I couldn’t follow through.

There are so many good photographers out there. AMAZING photographers. So many more who deserve the awards and recognition.

I am just a nobody with just a cell phone and a passion.

And yeah, that’s what I believed for 22.5 years.

I believed my photos were less than, not good enough, ugly, and definitely not worth being shown to the public. That I wasn’t enough to be part of something like that.

That, because of my “equipment”, applying to be featured somewhere felt so far out of my league.

Or maybe, I was scared of success and self-sabotaged because I was mentally broken and not ready. Yeah. That too.

But, today, writing this, those beliefs feel a million years old. I am so ready for this. And I concur. I wasn’t ready.

Photo Of The Day

Title: Nature, meet nurture.

It wasn’t until last October 29th, when I posted the photo above and gave it a title, that I had a barely there thought to try something new.

I wanted to touch my toe outside my comfort zone and see what might happen.

See what could happen.

If I just let down a barrier.

If I just shared with someone else NOT my close FB friends and family…

(Full disclosure: I went to bed before finishing this post and that sentence and have no idea where I was going with it but I’m not going to delete it bc it adds something to the story. The next day, I received an email that changed everything and I am crossing my fingers that it won’t bias how I finish this post, but it probably will so, I dunno. We shall see. But now it is 2 days since I started writing this post and I replied to that email, asking for confirmation, but I still haven’t received it yet, so I dunno. We shall see. Day 3 since I started and I got a response. But you will have to keep reading to see.)

Since I started posting a photo a day, 90 days ago, (holy cannoli – it’s been 3 months?!?), anyway, when I started posting a POTD on Instagram, I just wanted to do something new, something different.

I wanted to switch up my life. I had been living in a fog for 6 months and so numb, I had to add a new anti-depressant.

So, I just started posting a single photo, every day. At first, it started with a title. Then I added a caption. And then, I added a behind-the-scenes story.

At first, I took a few new ones but mostly posted older favorite photos.

Then, I started taking new photos most days to post.

And now, I have a bunch saved up for those days I don’t take a single photo because life is still chaos.

I also LOVE to scroll Twitter and submit my photos to other photographers’ Call For Art tweets.

In 90 days, I have only missed 1 POTD because I procrastinated posting because I was working on my Papa’s funeral slideshow (which turned out fucking amazing btdubs (by the way).

In my defense, I thought I would be done with my Papa’s slideshow before midnight, even though I started at 9pm. I just didn’t account for how long it would take to upload damn near 700 photos of my Papa. Roughly 500 WERE FROM ME!!!

(Photographer’s Curse strikes again. So many photos, too many choices.)

Anyway, I missed that day’s deadline because I didn’t go to sleep until 530am on the day of my Papa’s funeral because I am a pro at crastinating.

Moving on.

What first started as an experiment to see if I could spark something in my numb existence, has become something I look forward to every day. I look forward to it so much, that it’s part of my daily routine now.

If I know the exact photo I want to post, I usually do it earlier in the day. But 9 times out of 10, I either have zero clue what to post or zero time to post before bedtime.

Most days though, posting my POTD comes right before or right after Vibe Time (another story for another day) because that seems to be the natural part of the day to sit down and do it. And also, sometimes it takes me all day to choose a POTD.

Around day 14, right when I finally felt a spark of confidence come to life regarding the universe seeing my photos, I received an email that set my life on a new path.

I may not have gained any new followers and probably less than 25 new likes combined on all those POTDs up till when I received that email, but something made me stop and actually consider it.

It was a Call For Art from my local hometown’s cultural arts department in the city’s monthly newsletter.

Call For Art

My Official Artist’s Headshot. Photo taken by my Auntie.

I looked at the requirements, seeing that submitting my art wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

At least, not as difficult as my brain had built it up to be for over 22 years.

So, I did what I do best, and sat on it. I snoozed the email and even put the CFA on my habitica app to remind me to look at it later.

And I looked at that to-do every. single. day. for a couple of weeks, maybe a month even.

I REALLY wanted to do it.

But history told me that I would self-sabotage and end up missing the deadline “by accident,” so why even try? Why start the cycle of shame all over again?

The entire time, I was posting my POTD and my confidence was building.

I had started to have confidence in myself so much, that I said “fuck it” and declared that I was going to be unapologetically me. That included not caring what other people thought.

And then I took a photo that made me realize, no matter what, I needed to do this. I needed to submit my work.

The photo that made me realize. (sorrynotsorry. It’s one of the photos I submitted. You will have to come see my show to see it is or wait until after my show when I release it! Hah. Jokes on me because I won’t make it that long before I show you all. Or will I? Muwahahahaha…

It was on my Living List after all. To submit my work to try and be featured in a local exhibit. A success whether I was accepted or not. Living List item #1.

I didn’t even care if I was rejected. The point was to finally hit that damn submit button.

The only problem was, I could only submit up to 10 max.

The Photographer’s Curse strikes again.

How the hell is a hobbyist photographer, with over 70,000 photos, supposed to narrow it down to 10. TEN!

So, I pulled up my bootstraps, found my ALL TIME favorite 55ish, and asked for help.

I almost didn’t hit post. I was no longer just touching my toe outside my comfort zone and seeing what might happen.

Hitting that post button meant I was taking a leap off the tallest Olympic diving board straight into the deep end without knowing how to enter the water without doing a belly flop.

At this point, once I posted the call for help on Facebook, I knew I couldn’t back out. I was going to hit that damn submit button and be OK with the criticism and the comments that none of them were good enough.

But, I hit that submit button. Finally. A whole week early in fact. No “accidentally missing” the deadline. But how I got there, well, that was an adventure.

My First Adventure In Submitting A Call For Art

Let me just preface this section by saying I couldn’t have done this without asking for help from my friends and family. Period.

They helped me enter the water feet first. They bolstered my confidence. And it was damn near immediate, their response.

When I asked them to pick their top 10, they were on top of it like Jelly on Peanut Butter.

I didn’t necessarily choose the top 10 that my circle of humans picked out of the top 55ish, but their words of encouragement helped cement the fact that I was really going to do this.

That I WAS enough. That my photos were enough.

And their support meant and still means, the world to me. My camera may be my muse, but my circle reminds me why I am super obsessed with photography.

Once I got the photos narrowed down with their help, and made sure they would be able to scale to be printed out (because hello, I don’t print photos anymore and I only use a cellphone so pixels…), I had to get to work on a 500-word Artist Statement and a 300-word statement of my art.

I may be a writer and a storyteller. I may be able to spin a 1-word prompt into a 100-word drabble escape from reality.

But writing about myself and my art AND with a word limit? Those 800 words were probably the HARDEST thing I have written in a LONG time.

Heck, writing this has taken me weeks.

So I sat down, and I wrote. And I wrote some more. I wrote and edited and re-wrote. And then I was finally done. Accomplished. And on cloud 9 because I was doing the thing.

I went to hit submit, only to re-read the instructions to MAKE SURE I had all the things ready to go. And that’s when I saw it. A critical error.

I was supposed to write 500 CHARACTERS and 300 CHARACTERS. Not words.

Let me tell you something. I was flummoxed. Baffled. Confused, befuddled, and mystified. I had been staring at the instructions and re-reading them for days before I finally sat down and did the thing.

I don’t even know how I confused words for CHARACTERS.

So, after ranting to my husband, laughing hysterically because of course, smoking a big bowl, eating dinner, and probably smoking another big bowl, it was back to the drawing board.

Or the cutting board.

Fearlessly Hitting Submit

So, I started editing. I wanted to get this done. I may have had a week left till the final due date, but I knew that if I didn’t finish it that night, I was going to close my laptop, and walk away from one of my dreams.

Also, it was late. I was tired. I had been working on it all damn day. It was probably a Sunday…

But, even though I had to rework, rewrite, and make shorter my statements, I wasn’t afraid of hitting that submit button.

I was excited.

The fear didn’t kick in until a couple of hours later, when, after hitting that submit button, I began panicking that my perspective and my story didn’t make sense.

That my lack of “professional” recognition and awards would be the nail in my coffin.

That no one would get it. Get my reason why I photograph. That no one would get it and I’d be denied.

As the panic started rising, I had to forcefully shut that shit down and remind myself that, as long as I am confident and proud of my work, then that’s what matters.

I also had to remind myself that I didn’t do this with an end goal of being accepted.

I did this to touch my toe outside of my comfort zone. To follow a dream and prove to myself that I could follow through.

Man, I thought picking out 10 photos was hard. Writing these little stories has been the hardest thing I have ever written. At least, the hardest thing I have ever written before this post.

You see, I had an idea, a spark of inspiration, and ran with it. As I tend to do.

Much like photography and my camera being my muse, when I write, my fingers are my muse. I let them write whatever comes next. I don’t sit down with an intention. Much like when I take photos.

I sit down, never knowing where I will end, only that those were the words that needed to be written.

But, 6 weeks later, I still feel like, had I spent that extra week on it, maybe my statements wouldn’t feel so stupid. Maybe I would have had time to tweak them and make them that much better.

In fact, the more days that pass between hitting submit and writing this, the more I come up with other ways to describe my work.

I have to constantly remind myself (since it hasn’t become automatic yet) that I have never done this sort of thing. I didn’t even know what I was SUPPOSED to write.

Also, I have never been forced to describe my work, the importance of my work, who I am as an artist, etc.

I don’t even really know what other people’s opinions are of my work BECAUSE I HAVE NEVER ASKED BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SO AFRAID OF CRITICISM and judgment.

I fearlessly submitted it before the deadline. I had to.

In my mind, and because of history, if I were to have waited any longer, I would never have hit submit.

So, in the end, I have to be OK with what I wrote because this isn’t going to be my only call for art. As I practice sending in my photos, I will only get better so that SOMEONE will take a chance on me.

This was just my first and you have to walk before you can run.

It’s been 6 weeks and for a few of those, I forgot I even submitted until someone reminded me.

So much has happened in just those 6 weeks, it feels like it has been 6 months.

I stepped so far out of my comfort zone yet it felt so damn right. Whether or not I was accepted. I was on the right path.

I was no longer hiding and that felt powerful.

A year ago, I might have completed the steps but I never would have hit submit.

I just have to hope that, if I am selected, my photos will not be of terrible quality when printed out large.

But, if they are, then we will just roll with it.

My Artist’s Statement

The one I submitted
The one from which the one I submitted, came from. I even TYPED words not characters.

A Statement About My Art

The one I submitted
The one from which the one I submitted, came from.

15 Things I Have Learned As A Photographer

Now, on to the fun stuff. I have learned many, many things over the past 22.5 years of being a hobbyist photographer. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. Not every photo you take will be even remotely good
  2. There will come a time that you will edit a remotely good photo to within an inch of its life, only to realize it’s a nope
  3. You may take an accidental photograph that changes everything and provides you with an idea for a new technique
  4. You will become obsessed with experimenting with that technique
  5. And then, either during your experimentation or after you figure it out, you will find a new technique to obsess over. It’s one of the laws of photography. Don’t ask me which one. I just made it up.
  6. Don’t EVER stop taking photos because of a handful, or 1000, bad photos. One Law of Photography is that you will only get 1 good photo for every 100 you take. Don’t give up.
  7. Oh, and don’t stop experimenting, stepping out of your comfort zones, or trying new subject matters.
  8. How my kids now make fun of me for “stopping at everything”. They’re wrong ya know. I can’t possibly stop at everything I want to take a photo of. Besides, they now point things out to me! So, hah! Jokes on them.
  9. I really really really want someone to just give me a brand-new mirrorless camera with all the batteries. Basically, I want a camera faerie. Any volunteers? Will be paid in digital prints!
  10. A photo is a frozen snapshot in time of a scene and given life
  11. I wouldn’t be me without a way to take photos
  12. I secretly hope at least one of my daughters falls in love with photography as I have. But I will not love them any less or conditionally if they don’t.
  13. I laugh every time I have a perfect photo for a situation. It happens ALL. THE. TIME. Makes sense since I have 79K+ photos. I’d be worried if I didn’t. I know that number is a teeny tiny number to many photographers. But, its HUGE to me.
  14. I am waiting to find my photography humans. I have found my spiritual humans. It’s only time until I find my people.
  15. It’s been 90 days since that first POTD post.  It took until about day 70 to come to the realization that I don’t need external validation for my work. That the people who will like my art will find me. I don’t need the comments or the likes or the follows. I need the consistency.

Because as the consistency continues, I will only become better.

Better at my craft. Better at finding my audience. Better at being unapologetically me and that includes sharing my art no matter what.

No matter what the haters say, because it’s statistically impossible to please EVERYONE and I WILL find my audience, my audience will find me.

And because of my POTD experiment, I now have a sub-Living List: a Photography Living List.

One that includes learning how to take night photos, photos of rain droplets, ripples, rocks skipping, and long exposure water movement.

I want to learn how to take photos of the milky way and of single snowflakes that land in my hand and of everything that captures my attention.

And I want to keep adding to that list as I do my main one.

I have grown in confidence and strength. Moreso in the past 90 days than I have in 22 years.

I have grown in courage and energy and determination when it comes to being excited behind the camera.

And I have grown in the depth of my skill. I can’t wait to see where my photography goes in the next 22.5yrs

Why I Am A Photographer

Because of everything in this photo.

Photos should tell a story, make you feel, leave you wanting more.

As a storyteller, that’s my ultimate goal.

Because stories change perspective and perspective changes everything.

And THAT, my friends, is why I am a photographer.

To make a change, be the change, see the change.

The Email That Changes Everything

Now, the reason why we are all here. The result of my submission.

Was I accepted? Or rejected? I know you are all on pins and needles.

They weren’t supposed to announce the approved artists until March. At least, that’s what the automatic reply post-submitting stated.

In case you didn’t know, it’s January.

And according to the screenshot above, I was not only selected but also given a SOLO SHOW.

I was on cloud fucking 9 after reading that acceptance email.

I called my husband but forget he doesn’t get reception in the fabs, so I called his work phone and told him with over-the-top excitement.

I texted Rover scout chat group who are also some of my most favorite people in the world.

I texted my cousins group.

I was even about to post to FB, until my brain kicked back on and realized that it’s only January.

So, then, I vaguebooked on FB instead, wanting to hold on to this little piece of info, to save myself from the embarrasment, just in case it was an error.

I replied to the human that sent me the email, just to make sure it was correct and that I had been selected and given a show. I have yet to hear back.

I just need confirmation before going all in with the excitement. I forced my brain to stop celebrating, just in case.

If they sent it accidentally – that’s fine. But I’d rather know now instead of after paying for multiple large prints to be printed and framed.

And if they sent it accidentally or in error, I am not going to let that set me back. I am strong. And I will submit my art again.

But, if they didn’t send it accidentally? HOLY SHIT.

That experiment I started 90 days ago has catapulted me into overcoming my fears, allowing me to submit my art, and giving me a chance to finally show the world, or rather my hometown, my passion and share my purpose, my perspective.

Because perspective changes everything.


The irony? The exhibit title.


Because guess what? I am no longer afraid, and being unafraid is Powerful.

In the meantime, Adventure on with Curiosity,

~ Kelly “Beast” Steele

P.S. Living List Update!

Living List #1, “apply to be featured in a local photography exhibit”, was completed on 12.11.2022.

Living List #73, “be featured in a local photography exhibit”, will be able to be marked off at the end of the year! I am not just going to be featured, I am going to have a 10-photo SOLO SHOW.

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