The last time I blogged anything was THREE years ago. yeahhhhh… about that. I’ve been busy ok?! Where do I even start? Well, I’ll start from three years ago and build up to now. This will act as a summary of how I got from there to here and I will go into detail about various trips in other blog posts soon. So here it goes…
In 2016 I was at the top of my wedding photography game. I had lots of weddings and events to keep me busy, but I wasn’t fully content. I wanted something more than to just be a wedding photographer. I wanted to go to grad school to continue working on my own personal work and also to get a Masters degree in Photography. Yep. That might sound crazy to most people. I remember people back then indirectly or sometimes directly questioning why I would ever do something like that. What about your husband? they would say. What will he do while your gone? Will he go with you? Are you sure about this? Why do you need another degree in photography? or just You don’t need to go to grad school.
Yeah, it was hard. Hearing people verbally doubt you is tough to ignore.
Thankfully most of those people were not close to me and I knew most people would not understand, and that is ok. I knew I wanted to go and the people closest to me celebrated it. They helped me with recommendation letters, with artist statements, with letters of interest, with photograph selections, and just being there for me. The fact is that I did not need to go to grad school. People were right about that. No one needs to go to grad school especially for art. Art is a luxury just like most things in our modern lives. We live and breathe outside the bubble of necessity everyday. After I started attending grad school, it was also important that I realize that I was also privileged to be in an amazing Masters program for photography each time I: took a class I didn’t like, my critique didn’t go how I wanted it to, stayed up all night in the color darkroom making prints for the critique the next day, had to put relationships with friend and family on the back-burner for two years, but I was also privileged when I could: participate in critiques alongside some of my idols in the photography world, and dive deeper into the medium I love everyday. In every unpleasant and pleasant situation I was privileged to be there.
Through the process of picking a school, I made sure it was a somewhat responsible choice. Responsibility means different things to different people, but for me in this process, it meant a few things. I wanted my education to be financially viable, and it had to be either a small driving distance away from family or be a low residency program. Some things I was not willing to compromise on was: the quality of my education, networking, experiences, and the best professors that I could have. What’s crazy is I got all of those things that I wanted. I turned down several schools for at least one of those reasons and settled on a clear choice for me.
In 2016, I was in a place and time where I could work it out financially and in my relationship, and I wanted to go. I loved (and continue to love) being a wedding photographer, but I wanted to be a teacher too. I just felt that this was what I wanted to do with my life or at least I wanted to do everything in my power to try to be one. I believe that being a teacher is an honorable profession, and one that our contemporary American society under appreciates severely. I have always been so grateful for all of the good teachers I’ve come across in my life (self-proclaimed or otherwise). In fact, some individuals that have been most influential to me in my life have been my professors. I also knew that I could be a better teacher than most of the people I had in my undergraduate studies. I’m not saying I’m better than those people now, I just know that with time I can and will be better in a general sense. For me, things were usually explained in a way that felt congested. From my experience topics were either explained in an over-the-top, detailed, unnecessary way or in a vague, you-figure-it-out kind of way. Information was missing between the technical aspects and conceptual ones and I wanted to go deeper to explore those insecurities and also learn of new caverns that I knew nothing of within the vast subject of photography.
This program at the University of Hartford allowed me to travel the world three times a year for about two weeks at a time, but stay at home in Richmond, Virginia and work on my studies there. This aspect of the program was so important to me because over the years traveling has become important to my personal growth (I’ll have some new posts on this soon!). There’s something about going into the new and unknown place and learning about yourself through this new place, new people, and new cultures that’s appealing to me. I have loved receiving brief encounters with new people across the globe. I have studied with incredible classmates and professors from all over, and came out bruised and better in every way.
I graduated in August of 2018 a few days after my 28th birthday and started teaching immediately after I got home from Connecticut (like a week after). While doing freelance work, I taught three classes that semester at two local colleges. One of which I am continuing to teach at is Virginia State University . I have loved teaching at Virginia State. The students, the other faculty, and the structure of the Art department felt like a community pretty instantly.
I kind of took an unofficial break from wedding photography during these two years. Yes, I was still doing them, but I was not applying much focus on them. I was not advertising my business, blogging, or outwardly seeking weddings. I just did not have time to do them at the same rate I was doing them in 2016 and before this time. It takes a lot of time to develop curriculum for classes. A LOT. I’m still working on it and I’m sure each year I will continue to tweak things that didn’t go well or that I want to highlight more for certain classes.
It’s now August of 2019, and I say all this because I’ve gained perspective through all that I’ve gone through over the past couple of years; A perspective that I believe deserves to be shared and discussed. I want to educate my students as well as educate my clients, and people that will never be my clients about photography. Since I now teach basic photography to students, I am beginning to understand how I can fill in gaps of knowledge in a simple way for consumers of wedding or portrait photography therefore giving power to consumers to ensure confidence in your decision making because photography is an important part of our world. It’s in our lives everyday whether people realize that or not. I really want to have a discussion with photographers, and with my audience why certain trends are happening in photography, identifying real technical and aesthetic problems with your photos, discussing printing and other products you are getting with your photo packages, talking about the quality of image files, etc. because life is too short for bad photography and also knowledge is power (School House Rocket ..anyone?)!
So, I’m excited to slowly start to do this through this blog and really put effort into helping others this way. Maybe I show an on-looking professional photographer how I do something in a different way than they do themselves, or I teach a new photographer why they shouldn’t edit their JPEG files, or I explain to Brides and Grooms some qualities to look out for in picking a wedding photographer. In any sense, I think I can be helpful. So right now on top of the school year starting and finishing up summer weddings, I am preparing a list of topics to write about. So, if you are curious about any photography related topic or want to ask me how I do something in my practice please send me a message! You can do that by sending me an email through the contact page here on my website or you can just DM me on Instagram @jaclynelizabethphoto
Thank you to everyone reading this :)