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Trash Panda

The mere idea of you, the longing here for you You'll never know how slow the moments go till I'm near to you...

- Billie Holiday, The Very Thought Of You

I was at a newborn session the other day with the chunkiest baby boy you've ever laid eyes on. I was greeted at the door by a beaming three-year-old who proudly announced that she was a big sister... and then filled me in on about a hundred other things before the shoot was over. She was adorable and reminded me of my own littles. As I set up my lights and backdrop and arranged the set, their mother asked me if I have a favorite thing to photograph.

At the time, in the company of a twirling miniature Princess Anna and a precious newborn all wrapped in fuzzy blankets and hats, I chose baby photography. I love babies. I'm amazed by our bodies and our ability to grow humans. I've photographed everything from baby bumps to baby births. (I'd do it again in a heartbeat, if you're out there reading this and looking for a birth photographer!)

But I can't settle in on babies, as much as I absolutely love photographing them. There are so many genres that give me that same feeling of excitement and fulfillment. Weddings, lifestyle, boudoir, wild adventures in fields... my friend Shea might call me the trash panda of photography. I love all of it. Do I have my camera? Is there a human to connect with? Then I'm happy. Truly, deeply happy.

Little-known fact: When I was young, I wanted to be a missionary. I had this dream of going out into the world and helping people. It eventually evolved, when I read an article about a ship that travels around the coast of Africa and provides free emergency care to people with serious dental issues. A year in a science and engineering high school taught me quickly that this was not the path for me. One morning before the sun came up, I looked outside my window and saw raindrops on the awning over our deck. I snuck into my parent's room, asked to borrow my mom's camera, and went outside to photograph the rain. There was something so peaceful to me about the stillness in the air. I lived in Northeast Philadelphia, where stillness isn't common, but at this quiet hour of the morning, it was just me and my camera.

I destroyed the film. Totally botched it when I opened the back, which is just as well, because I'm sure the photos weren't properly exposed. I had absolutely zero experience with a camera. Still, that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I knew I wanted that feeling of creation and magic to stay with me forever - to tell stories, make art and bring happiness. It's cliche, but this is what drives me. In this small way, I hope that I'm making the world better.

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