I would like to take a moment to pay some respect to the woman who got me where I am today. Without this fantastic lady, I would not be doing what I doing am today.
My mother gave me everything she could, and everything she couldn't, and then some. Everything I was interested in, she became interested in, too. When I wanted to be an archeologist, she helped me dig in the garden for fossils. When I wanted to be a veterinarian, she bought me books upon books of animals. We didn't have much money, but she provided to me everything she possibly could, even if it meant she had to go without some things for herself.
She loved taking pictures of the world around her. Before I entered kindergarten, I had my first 110 camera. Remember those? If you don't, I think I'm getting old! Shortly after that, a few 35mm cameras were added to the mix, along with some disc film cameras we already had (yeah, those are ancient, too!).
In high school, they offered a photography class my freshman year. I wanted soooo badly to take this class! Mom scraped up every bit she could, and we went to the downtown pawn shop and bought me my first 35mm manual Pentax camera -- the kind with the needle in the viewfinder for the light meter. For years, we were constantly in the library, camera shops, and bookstores learning everything we could learn about the art of photography. As she learned new things on her own, she taught them to me, and vice versa. When the weather was nice, we would take walks (sometimes many, many miles) and strap our cameras along for the ride. During the summer, this was a daily event for us.
She encouraged my passion for photography, which has continued to grow to this day, and I hope continues for many more years. She taught me how to see beyond the images -- to see the thoughts and emotions the pictures captured. Did she give me the passion, or just empower it? Maybe a little of both. I believe she gave me the passion when I was born, and empowered me as I grew.
My dream, and my hope, was to use this passion to touch the lives of others in the world. I struggled for years in pursuit of this dream. After graduating college, I almost gave up on it. I did not have the money to be constantly processing film, nor did I have the money for a digital camera and the beefed-up computer equipment to go with it. But still I kept with it. Everyone goes through a rough spot, and I was determined to live my dream.
A year and a half after graduation, Mom passed away. I was devastated in a way I don't believe I'll ever be able to really explain. Yet through the eyes of others who helped me through it (and still do), I was able to see that a gift came in this tragedy.
I was hopelessly in debt at the time, both with my own student loans and the debt of Mom's estate. I was at a loss of what to do, when I received a phone call late one night. It was a man I had never met before, but he knew my mother and had heard what happened. He was the accountant of a life insurance policy Mom had.. and had forgotten about. The light at the tunnel came back on. My debts were squared away, and there was plenty left over. I was encouraged to get the camera and computer software I had been dreaming of (it wasn't much to some, but it was a dream to me).
Here I am, a year later, selling photographs on the world wide web, touching lives across the globe.
People keep asking me how much money I make doing stock photography. I tell them it's enough to add to my play money, and that's all I tell them.
To me, it's not about making money. For me, it's about living my dream, touching lives across the globe. I owe it all to this wonderful woman that is my mom. She gave me the passion, the empowerment, and the means.
She will always be my greatest muse, my greatest source of empowerment.
I love you, Mom.