“Truth or Consequences” – Photography Love Affair

Engagement photography: picture of a female arm pretending to uppercut her male fiance, arm in focus to show flower tattoo

Truth #1: Photography is a passion that surprised me…

I remember the feeling when I saw this image in my camera for the first time. I remember the smile spread across my face when the photo splashed on my computer screen–a Compaq I used until a virus killed it. I love this image. I barely touched it in editing, maybe increased the contrast. But really, this shot was one of those moments that photographers experience when they begin to think to themselves, I might be kinda good…

And this was one of the first shots of my very first paid shoot. I was nervous. And felt like a complete fraud…until I saw this shot.

The Hatchers Engagement shoot, 2011. My first official clients as Spioaertriac Photography. Friends from college, these two put their faith in my abilities and I’ll always be grateful to them–they are in a LOT of my work (engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, boudoir; I just love them). But really, their trust made me smile that day. We used the campus of the Fort Valley State University (Fort Valley, GA) as the backdrop and there I was with my newly purchased Nikon Coolpix P100…that always fascinates me too. That their images aren’t from a DSLR.

engagement photography, woman laying her head down on her male fiance's shoulderwoman laughing in engagement photography, spioaertriac man and woman pose funny under a tree on a sunny day for engagement photography, spioaertriac woman lies on the edge of a foundtain while man craddles her for engagement photography, spioaertriac






collage photography, top left man kissing woman smiling, top right man and woman looking at each other, bottom left man looking at woman laughing with hand over mouth, bottom right man and woman kissing

The Hatchers loved their images–they always have. And from that shoot forward, I thought, I can do this. I still felt like a fraud with every shoot, but I grew confident that my images would be beautiful. And, more importantly, I felt like a photographer. Maybe not the type to pull $2500 per shoot, but I grew a client base. Word of mouth is a Godsend. Eventually, people sought me rather than me seeking them to build my portfolio.

Consequence? I fell in love with photography.

I wrapped my heart and soul around photography, lathered up with it, sprayed it on my skin. Photography was a trying lover, demanding all my time and attention; I gave photography everything.

I loved picking locations, the smiles on my clients’ faces during sessions. I loved getting the compositions just right, the surprise shots that left me stunned. I loved trying new genres: architecture, weddings, boudoir (by far my favorite). I even loved the editing. I especially love the look on a client’s face when they see themselves for the first time–especially when women see themselves. I think women view ourselves through a distorted lens; I try to reflect the beauty I see through my photography.

I love what I did. I prayed for each and every moment. I can’t begin to describe the sweet joy that blurred inside me when I got it…

black and white portrait photography, woman staring into the sun smiling, spioaertriacportrait photography, bust of woman standing outside head to the left

Truth #2: I haven’t felt that joy, that love in a long time…

The black and white portrait is one of the last (paid) shots I took, in 2016. The latter is literally my last shoot from Mother’s Day. Seven years span between the first images and this one. Seven years of flash and slow shutter and swing sets and pink blankets on soft skin and miles driven to the next shoot and rescheduled consultations and motion shots of the bride tossing the bouquet and hours upon hours upon hours of editing. Seven years.

And, just to be clear, I love both images. They are two of my favorites. Only took me seven years to finally shoot.

But Photography and I had grown apart. Perhaps, I stopped devoting all my time and attention. Or, perhaps, I gave too much of myself. I couldn’t pinpoint a date. No one shot, one session, one client, one location–I’ve enjoyed all of you equally. It’s the process that weighs me down–the scheduling, carving out times, the hours upon hours upon hours of editing, the old feeling of being a fraud creeping back into my mind. Everyone has a smart phone, everyone has an Instagram; you don’t need me.

Truthfully (and isn’t that what this post is about?) I believe, like all relationships in life, without effort, without commitment, no bond will last. And truthfully, I got to a point where I stopped putting in any effort. I only picked up my camera when I had a client. I rarely took shots for myself, for pleasure. I stopped going to classes, stopped improving my techniques. Thousands of dollars worth of love just sitting in a corner of my room, collecting dust.

This year, I actually took a break from photography. I turned clients away. I started an Instagram in an attempt to focus on shooting for the pleasure, but I barely posted anything with my DSLR. I literally considered just walking away, love lost.

Consequence #2? I. Miss. Photography.

And that, gentle readers, brings us to present. Or at least a week ago.

My About section dives into the other side of my why, but photography is what pushed me to accept my friend’s suggestion to travel. I do not take risks–though I took one when I picked up my first camera, didn’t I?–I worry, always worry too much about negative consequences. But I miss my old love. I miss the way we fit. I miss the instinctual way we moved together. My photographer teacher once told me I had an eye for composition. I think I’m just lucky. But I miss the excitement of shooting. Even the frustration.

low tide on beach during sunrise, spioaertriac photography
Jacksonville, FL – First Beach, April 29, 2017

I don’t know much about travel photography. Only what I have consumed at an insatiable rate over the last week and a half. And truth be told, I’m not particularly going into this first year of travel focused on becoming a travel photographer. But my life is in transition–turning 30 will do that to a woman–and I’ll be damned if I don’t document my journey.

pinterest pin, top photo woman with camera at face, bottom photo plane wing in the sky, text in middle reads, "Thinking of walking away from photography? Try Travel!"

Final note: The initial title of this post comes from the ABC show, Scandal, Season 2, Episode 12.


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