I recently had someone ask me, “What did you do before this.”
For a second I was confused, but soon after realized what she meant; what was I doing before I became a mom and started taking photos. My reply, “Nothing. This is what I went to school for!”
She had no idea, and I suspect a lot of you didn’t either. You guys, the becoming a professional photographer part of my life was so long ago, in fact it’s been 9 years since I got that business licence. Sometimes I forget just how much that stage in my life shaped both me and my business. So what do you say, shall we do a little reminiscing today?
It all started in 9th grade when I signed up to go to Mexico with our church. Before this trip, I had been to the Calgary Zoo haha. So ya, let’s call it the beginning of Karmen’s love affair with travel.
My mom lent me her beloved camera (honestly still can’t believe this, thanks Mom). It was her baby, a Nikon F80, silver and black, rather large for a young girls hands. Attached to the front was a zoom lens, and in the back I loaded roll after roll of film. You guys, I easily shot a roll of film a day and was quickly promoted to trip photographer lol.
When I got home I dropped that giant ziploc bag of film off at the local London Drugs and waited. Oh my word, does anyone remember the gloriousness of waiting for your film to be developed?! Everything about it, right down to that weird chemical smell is something I will never forget about shooting film. When they were finally finished, my mom and I sat in the car in the parking lot (like we did every time a roll of film was developed) and looked through them all. She thought they were really good, and I mean that’s all that really matters amiright?
She encouraged me to enter them in some contests, I won. I was shocked…..
But basically my head was in the game to graduate High School and to go to university for something BIG. You see, at the time, both my Mom and Nana had been single moms who devoted their lives to raising their families. No post-secondary for them meant I WAS GOING TO GO UNIVERSITY! I was going to get a degree and it was going to be for something important. Together we thought that perhaps I would be a great lawyer or a doctor (soooo not smart enough haha) or a nurse. I wanted to be a Archeologist.
I focused on my core subjects throughout highschool, I didn’t take a SINGLE art class haha. The irony. I had an after school job at a local coffee shop (shout out to Kavaccino’s!!) and I savvvved and savved for tuition. But, truthfully, I ended up spending most (ALL) of it on a trip to Europe and then a trip to Bolivia. My logic here, the government certainly wasn’t going to give me a loan to travel….. and I still needed some time to be 100% sure I knew what I wanted to be before spending an insane amount of cash on schooling…
You see this idea of being a photographer was creating a lot of doubt (and excitement) in my mind, something about my previous plans just didn’t seem right anymore. But a photographer? I mean, is that really something that can be a career? I decided to wait another year. I got a job at a cricket farm. Yes you heard right. I was indeed a cricket wrangler lol. During this year one of my former teachers said the magic words I needed hear, “I think you would make a fantastic photographer”… That was it, apparently that was allll the validation I needed. I decided the time had come to be brave and leave all my carefully laid plans behind for something entirely different. I was going to apply for NAIT’s competitive photography program, and if I happened to be one of the 28 people chosen for the program then I would be starting school in September!! Weeee! Cue the nervous anticipation.
Needless to say, I got in and, oh friends, the fit couldn’t have been more perfect despite the fact that I hated the city (not for long tho, Edmonton won me over with her subtle charms). I LOOOOOVED both the artistic and technical details of photography. I loved breaking down lighting and understanding it. I loved the chemistry of developing film. I loved rich history of photography and photographers. I loved it’s impact.
By the end of my first year I was already working for several incredible photographers and I will always be so grateful for all the knowledge they shared. It didn’t take me long however, to realize that I didn’t want to work for someone else. I wanted to start my own studio. I was clueless, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
But here we are today, through all the ups and downs. 9 years, many trips and two babies later; I still LOVE it.