MAC Swimming Championships

There's more to my job than just taking pictures. As the head photographer, I also manage the schedules of our three other photographers, coordinate press passes, speak with other schools' SIDs, communicate with our facilities people, upkeep equipment and manage our rates. It was more than I originally signed up for freshman year, but it's been a great growing experience. I've had to deal with issues at 10 or 11 at night, I've had to figure out copyright issues, and I've had negotiate fair pay for all of my photographers based on the work that they're doing. Everything that I've mentioned above has happened throughout the past two years, but for some reason... every. single. one. of those things decided to happen last week as well, just as we were all getting ready to shoot one of our largest events this year - the MAC swimming and diving championships.

I was a swimmer growing up, so swimming has always felt very therapeutic to me. I was so stressed last week, trying to coordinate everything and ensure payment, but I knew I just had to get to the pool to shoot something before I got overwhelmed. I decided to head there Thursday and see what panning shots I could get. I struggle with panning, I rarely get something in focus. So I left that night pretty frustrated... I mean, it IS frustrating, right? You head to the pool, all your gear in hand, no real responsibilities other than the one you have to yourself to shoot something you're proud of... and it doesn't happen. That's when I remembered something I've been trying to keep central to my thoughts recently - shoot the kind of pictures that make YOU happy, shoot the kind of photos YOU want. Yeah, I want panning shots, I guess. But do I really like those photos, or am I just doing that because someone somewhere along the line said it might look nice in my portfolio? Probably the latter.

I went to the meet Friday with a new thought process: take good photos, whatever good means to you. And I felt like I did that, I felt like I got some photos I was finally proud of and wanted to share! I feel a lot less stressed now.

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Comparing Yourself

I frequently suffer from that disease that plagues all creatives - the chronic comparing yourself to others. I'm in my final semester of school, and along with that has come a lot of stress. Stressing about jobs, stressing about where bae's gonna be, and stressing about whether I'm good enough at all of this. I hate the up's and down's. I think we all do. I hate when my confidence gets crushed when I see a spectacular photo taken by one of my peers. I hate when I think to myself, "Why didn't I take that photo?" or "Why didn't I think of that?" or "Wow, that person really had the better angle." But something I really love is taking photos, and telling stories, and going to all of the places that photography takes me and meeting all of the people it allows me to meet. And I guess, now that I've thought about it for a while, I'd rather have a career that kicks me in the gut sometimes but allows me to really live, instead of sitting in a cubicle answering phones or crunching numbers all day.

All it took was a little friendly reminder from one of my best photo pals, Calvin. You see things the way you see them, he said. No one can take a photo that's just like your's, and you can't take the same photos that everyone else takes. And I know, deep down, that he's really right. That we can learn from everyone, but the reason we're creatives is because we all have a unique vision. 

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On Documenting Our Own Lives

My boyfriend is not a photographer. Yes, I've taught him not to crop out people's feet in photos, and he does follow Getty Sport on Instagram. But he's not a photographer, and I appreciate that. He pumps me up when I have a good game gallery, and he tells me honestly when the photos I've taken are average. 

I am a harsh critic of my own work and often feel inadequate when I compare my work to that of others. Instagram is both my friend and my enemy. Am I posting enough of my sports photos? Am I posting too much of my personal life? I haven't posted a sport photo in a while - do my mentors think I'm slacking? Questions like these plague me. Feelings of self-conscious doubt creep in. And it's the silliest thing because honestly, it's Instagram. If I deleted the app, I'd get along with life just fine.

I have a diverse group of followers - many are my college friends, who would prefer to see cliche photos of my boyfriend and I at a formal event. Half of my followers are people I've shot next to at the many football fields, race tracks, and press conferences that I've been to, who would probably prefer to see the latest image I've taken professionally. Which audience should I cater to the most? Does it even matter?

My boyfriend is not a photographer, but he is one of my biggest fans in life and on Instagram. As my source of reason, he reminds me that sharing all sides of my life allows me to show others that I am a human. It allows me to share bits of my personal life with you all, to show you that I am a person who regularly experiences and sees beauty, love, sadness, hope - and that all of that bleeds into the photos I take professionally. I see in many talented sports photographers a desire to constantly produce and post new content, to garner views and likes and comments. I see a desire to get THE catch or THE run or the finish. I hope to do all of those things too - shoot new stuff, capture the best moments, and share it with the world. But I also hope to create images that are uniquely mine; images that embody the same moments of beauty, love, sadness, and hope that I value in my own life. 

I have many New Years resolutions, including getting back into swimming, keeping my room clean, and getting a job/internship, but also documenting my own life more often, and realizing the importance of doing so.

I took the following images rather hastily with my iPhone. You'll see the play unfold, you'll see the reaction to it, and lastly, you'll see the celebration. Enjoy a moment of joy and love with me for a second - my grandmother's 80th birthday celebration.

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