The list of interview questions from the photography blog, Click It Up a Notch, has been my constant companion for a good long while. These are a series of photographer interviews that I read about and decided to challenge myself to answer as a way to understand myself as a photographer and how I can use that information to grow into the best version of that person.
*photographer interview questions courtesy of Courtney Slazinik of Click It Up a Notch.
What Would You Do If Your Weren’t a Photographer?
I came into the photography came fairly recently, as in within the last 10 years or so. Before that, I tried my hand at a number of different jobs, hoping something would give me the some sort of satisfaction besides a paycheck with some zeroes on it. Between the time I graduated from college until I completely embraced being a photographer, I worked as a high school English teacher, an executive assistant for an internet site management company, a personal banker for a national bank, a booker/talent for a modeling agency, an event planner, and a student – I did several semesters in both graduate school and nursing school. My liberal arts degree has really been put to use, can I tell you?
Each of those aforementioned jobs (and they were jobs, not careers), fit with what I thought I should be doing as a college educated adult. They were traditional 9-5 gigs with health plans and steady checks. They were challenging, but I was operating on autopilot for most of them. Get up, go to work, come home, repeat.
A friend of mine, who had studied photography in college and knew that I was interested in it, asked me to be her back-up shooter for a wedding. I had recently gotten a DSLR camera and had been taking hundreds of photos of M and C. I was shooting whatever I could to familiarize myself with the camera and the lenses. I knew how I wanted my pictures to look, I just need to figure out how to make that happen. Through self-study, hands on experience, and class after class, my skills grew and so did my client base. I formed a photography company with my friend and we booked weddings and family portrait shoots.
Shooting gives me so much joy. I’ve been able to capture such fantastic memories, not only for brides, new parents, and the like, but for my own family. On what would be the last visit with my grandmother in 2012, I took some quiet portraits of her with the girls. It would be those photos that I would linger over after her death two weeks later. I set the camera aside and picked up my pen and began to write, managing my grief through words. What began a list of shared moments between generations became a seed of an idea that with careful tending grew into “Maggie Sinclair“.
I’ve been writing since before I could write. My first story, “The Apple and the Tree”, I dictated to my mother when I was 4 years old, and yes, I still have it. I wrote poetry in second grade after inhaling all of Shel Silverstein’s books. In middle school, I started my first novel, a poorly disguised take on Star Wars featuring action, adventure, and romance between grown-up versions of myself and my friends. In high school, I returned to poetry, submitting to the school literary magazine again and again. I took so many English and Creative Writing classes in college, my friends were so confused when they learned my major was actually Psychology.
For the longest time, I didn’t believe that I could be a writer, that I needed a real job, and that writing was hobby. Thank goodness I was wrong.
Writing is a release for me. When I put in time to write, real time, not just snatched minutes here and there, I know that I have done quality, meaningful work. When I make the time to write, all those mornings of getting up at 5am to pound out 620, 940, 1756 words. . .I am wrung out and wholly satisfied. My corner of the blogosphere doesn’t take up much space, but it’s enough for me to stretch and flex my creativity in ways photography does not.
I love that I can move between two creative means of expression. Being able to take the pictures that paired up with the descriptions of “Maggie’s” hairstyles in my book was incredible. Being able to marry the words with the images, both of which I created? I actually don’t have a word for that level of satisfaction, pride, and thankfulness.
If I weren’t a photographer, there are a number of things that I would do, but there’s only one thing that I want to do — just write.
What Would You Do If You Didn’t Do What You Do Now?
Tell me about it in the comments!
Also published on Medium.