My WHY and HOW...
It is something that I find myself explaining whenever I meet a new client. Usually, I try to make it a quick recap. I am going to warn you that it may be a little long, but I promise if you want to really know me, and my why and how, this will answer it all.
I did not grow up thinking I would be a photographer. In fact I had my mind made up to become a teacher. When I started college I immediately signed to pursue becoming a special education teacher. Things were going good, so I decided to add in a Spanish minor. Upon finishing my freshman year in college there were a lot of things going on at home and internally, that led me to submit an application to study abroad in Spain. I didn’t think I would get in, especially since I applied the night before the deadline. Well as God would have it, I got in. I told my parents and after much convincing they agreed to support my decision (that’s a big deal for having Mexican parents, it’s just a different culture.)
So in August of 2012, I got on my very first plane to start the journey. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to document everything. It was new, and it was exciting. So, let me pause here for a second to say that during this time my parents had never been anywhere since arriving in the U.S. from Mexico in 1990. Both were undocumented and could physically not leave the country, and if they did, there was no way they would ever come back. My parents sacrificed so much. So knowing that I had the opportunity to see the world ignited a fire in me. I wanted to show them what I could through pictures and videos. So you can say this four month experience abroad led me to fall in love with photography. I took pictures of everything and everyone. That trip changed me, and it changed the way I viewed the world. During that time I also had the opportunity to teach a class of Kindergarten students and volunteer at a Autism Center. I realized right away that I did not want to be a teacher. My trip lasted from August to December of that year.
In 2013 I resumed my normal life back in the states. I kept going to school, I kept trying to force myself to fall in love with teaching (why do we do that?) It was also when I purchased my first DSLR camera the Canon T3… which I am not sure if you can even buy new anymore. I started to learn my camera, and I annoyed my siblings for sure wanting to take their pictures. But I was loving it so much, and thought maybe I had found my thing. The year continued, and the more I moved forward with school, the more I felt so lost about where my life was headed. I had many conversations with my mom about feeling like I would be a disappointment to her and my dad if I didn’t become something that society deemed as a career. She constantly encouraged me and told me she loved me no matter what path I decided. She promised me that she would help me upgrade my camera come the new year. A few weeks after having that conversation with her, and my best friend at the time, tragedy struck and my mother passed away. She never got to see the new year.
Life was a chaos, I had just lost the most important person in my life. I was in my junior year of college, life didn’t make sense. Not only that but I was now raising my little sister who was 12 at the time. I won’t get into much detail here. But I ended up switching career paths in school, and went into Family Life Education and turned my Spanish minor into a major. For a few months I put the idea of photography on the back burner, I became angry that God would allow for such a thing to happen. I remember clearly starting that I would be given up photography, that there was no point in doing it. That’s when my best friend at the time (my now husband) said to me: “Patty I will not let you give up on your dreams and passions.” During that time I was attending a new church, Radiant and slowly but surely I started finding healing.
It was in July of 2014 that I signed up for a mission trip with my new church. We ended up going to Lima, Peru and again my life was wrecked, and again I found my love for photography. I loved being able to document the experience and the faces of the Peruvian people. I came back to the States and worked my butt off to save for a new camera. I ended up purchasing a Canon 6D. Also upon arriving I was promoted to work in a Media Relations position. So I got to use my camera all the time, I was working with the homeless population of Kalamazoo. I was telling the stories of some of the members who had succeeded in graduating the program there. It was amazing. I ended up leaving that job in 2015 to finish school. I was loving the new path I had chosen, and I had made a promise to finish and graduate. I kept on with photography and started booking more clients, mainly seniors. I ended up graduating from college summer of 2015 and immediately decided to find a job and work until I knew what it is I wanted to do. So I began working for WMU’s Bookstore as a Team Lead.
Fast forward to June of 2016 two of the most amazing humans, and friends of mine were getting married. My friend Mandi and her fiancé Samuel. Mandi was a friend I made on my trip to Spain. We attended church together while in Spain and made tons of friends. One of those friends was Samuel. I had managed to convince her to go out on a date and the two became official a few months after her and I were back in the states. To make it long story short, their relationship worked and Samuel came to propose to her and boom they were engaged. The two had seen my love for photography and asked me to take their wedding pictures. Boy was I nervous, but I loved every minute of it. The rush that I got was so exciting. And surprisingly the pictures turned out so much better than I could have imagined. A few months later someone else needed wedding portraits done and again, it was such an amazing experience. One thing led to another. So at the beginning of last year (2017) I set out to book at least 6 weddings. I was determined to build my portfolio and build my experience.
The more time I spent doing the thing I loved, the more I realized how passionate I was. I could spend hours doing it, and not be tired. I often thought about why I loved it so much aside from the rush. It was then that a picture I have on my desk of my mom and I gave me the answer. The answer I had been looking for was in the thing I did every single day, look at pictures of my mom. I wanted that for people. For me the pictures allow me to relive memories that otherwise would just live in your mind. I truly believe a pictures is worth a thousand words. I will forever be thankful to have those images.
So in March (2017) I made up my mind that I would go full-time with my photography business. I created a timeline in my head for when I wanted things to happen. Although some things took longer than others, it was all happening. I spent numerous hours at coffee shops, editing, creating, surfing the internet, watching videos, reaching out to engaged people. I went to my job from 8:00am-4:30pm and as soon as I was done there I would choose a coffee shop to go and work at, sometimes up until the place was getting ready to close. I knew that if I wanted to make this my career I would need to work to get to a place where I could sustain myself. (By the way Water Street Coffee was usually my go to place)
In August (still 2017) I had met my goal, I was in the place I needed to be. I still remember to this day walking in to talk to my bosses and telling them that after the back to school season for the bookstore that I would be leaving.
FINALLY on October 12, 2017 I said good-bye to my cubical of 2+ years. A cubical where I often dreamed about that day, where I dreamed about being my own boss. A cubical that I was always decorating with reminders of why I needed to work harder. I didn’t get to this place overnight, success didn’t just happen. I didn’t just wake up one morning and know that I wanted to be in this industry. There are obstacles and things I faced that ultimately led me to find my purpose in life. I worked hard to perfect my skill and still do work hard. Every day I still continue to discover more and more of this life. I know there is more, but I know that at least for this season I am where I need to be. Words could never be enough to thank the people in my life who have always been there cheering me along in my journey.
My mom being number one and my forever number one.
My best friend who is now my husband.
My sweet friends Mandi and Samuel for encouraging me to do their wedding.
My sweet friend Jo Jo who often times would go on random adventures with me.
My friends Krista and Drew for sitting in coffee shops with me for long hours.
To all the friends I have made via social media, in person, at my previous job and along the way.
My cubicle with no windows!
The list goes on and on. I am just so overwhelmed by this journey and where this life will take me. Please enjoy some pictures from this journey, they aren't in any specific order! :)