It's been a little under a year since I took took a deep breath, braced myself and hit "Publish." In a split second, years of work vanished from my website. Weddings, family portraits, newborn photography, events, the things that were my bread and butter. Gone. On purpose. Why on earth would I do that?
For a long time, I spread myself too thin, trying to be all of the things to everyone. A noble intention, I'd like to think, but inauthentic. I love seeing people get married. I love happy families and oh my goodness, do I love sweet little babies. And I love photography. Any opportunity seemed like a good reason to do it. But then I reached back to 2009 - a fresh faced Photojournalism student at Temple University. I remembered Dr. Trayes - this kind of gruff perfectionist with a heart of immaculate gold. You did not want to disappoint Trayes, but impressing him meant everything. It's been over a decade, but I still remember the day he pulled me aside after class. "What are you going to do with all that talent?" I was headstrong back then (ok, still am) and I was good about believing I could do something if I put my mind to it. But that was the first time I felt something deeper. A sense of responsibility. An obligation to the Greater Good. Trayes believed I could do something meaningful. And you don't let Trayes down.
It took me years of self-discovery to begin to understand how I can use my talents, passion, even my oddball, socially anxious personality to bring some small piece of good to the world. I always felt like in order to succeed, I needed to mask who I was and project a persona, even a business model that I thought others wanted. It took time to realize my priority is not widespread success. I mean, I wouldn't complain. But it's not what motivates me. I would rather make something that inspires creativity, helps you see yourself in a transformative light, takes you outside of your comfort zone just a little and reminds you to be brave, bold and curious. And for me, most of the time that means getting up close and personal with nature and rediscovering roots, so to speak. It won't be for everyone, and I finally know that's ok. The people who resonate with what I do are finding me and for the first time ever, my work makes me feel completely myself. Because of that, I'm so much better equipped to share meaningful experiences with others.
I have enormous respect and love for the many forms of photography I've come to realize are not my wheelhouse. I'm free to celebrate them now, instead of feeling threatened by the competition. What an amazing gift to live in a world full of so many talented people with so much to offer. Realizing what I can bring to the table by being authentic has made me passionate about connecting with other businesses who feel the same. And that's what lead me to Twisted Monkey. Every time I had the good fortune to step through the doors of this legendary local spot, I felt so at ease. Even though I'm a far cry from seasoned yogi, I always felt welcomed and always left feeling peaceful and proud of myself for trying something unfamiliar. So it felt very natural to team up with Daniella and create something together.
I'm so excited for our first ever Small Biz Fest - a celebration of the many incredible businesses in our community. This is something Daniella and I have worked really hard to bring about, with the help of some amazing names in Huntingdon Valley & Rockledge. Naked Brewing, Dave's Backyard Farms, and so many others are donating their time, their services, their products to create this awesome event. I can't wait to honor the many individuals who make up this network of dreamers. People who all had to ask themselves at some point what their passion was, what they could give back to the world while living authentically, and then went for it. We are positively overflowing with big-hearted, talented people in this little corner of the world. I think that's worth having a party. Don't you?
We're still accepting raffle basket donations! If you're a small business in the area who would like to participate in Small Biz Fest, please reach out to me at email@example.com or to Daniella at firstname.lastname@example.org.