Who knew these people would become so dear to me?

In summer of 2013, I wrote a very heartfelt message on my blog, a sort of love letter to photography. Reading it again in 2017 struck a chord.

I’ve been juggling a lot lately. I’m working four jobs, working on my written thesis, planning my final exhibition and applying for even more work. I’ve also been juggling my thoughts: I keep oscillating between obsessing over the fact I graduate in three months and ignoring that information.

There have been a couple of times this week where I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep, because I was thinking about the uncertainty of the future. One of the biggest heart breaks I have to face in May is saying goodbye to my cohort. Well, it’s not goodbye per se, but I won’t be seeing them everyday and we won’t have this designated time to talk about photography together.

We won’t be able to lay on the floor in defeat together after May, either.

But here is a coincidence–I used to be very upset that I didn’t have people to gush about the medium with. I wrote this blog post in summer of 2013, when I was a junior in undergrad:

I just really, really love photography.

When I signed up for my photography class in high school, I had no idea that I would fall so in love with it. If you asked 15 year old me what I would be doing as a career someday, the word “photographer” would have never escaped my lips. My passion for this craft has become so deep, I sometimes feel ill.

Sometimes there’s this crushing weight on my chest when I can’t seem to get it right, when I can’t edit something just the right way, when I have no idea how to translate something from my mind to the lens. Sometimes when I see people who are younger than me producing work that is mind-blowing and creative and filled with wonderful technique I just want to curl into a ball. It gets painful at times because the thought of quitting never crosses my mind. I know how I have to keep going, and sometimes that’s scary.

Sometimes I sit back and think, “I’m doing a good job.” and other times I say to myself, “You’re terrible. This is no good.” When I see something someone did and I don’t know how they did it, I try and try and don’t stop until I know how they did it. I want to be good fantastic. I know I could be.

It’s hard to have this sort of passion and no one to share it with. I wish I had close friends who were fanatics like me, someone who I could bounce off ideas with and talk the lingo and figure out new things together. Because, sometimes, I don’t think the people around me get it. They just look at my pictures and say, “Wow, this is really great!” They don’t see the hard work, the sweat, the hours of Photoshop. They don’t see the layers, the developing, the anticipation of waiting for prints. They don’t know. And I want someone who does. I want someone who will kick me when I’m comparing myself to others and remind me I don’t have time to waste.

I’ve been trying so hard, and not for naught. This past year alone I have improved at an incredible rate. I might not be where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. I started this blog, I update my Facebook page weekly, and I just started using my Flickr more regularly. I’m getting my stuff out there- I mean, here you are, someone I don’t know, and you’re reading my blurbs and looking any my work. That makes me ecstatic.

So, when I’m out there trying my hardest and getting discouraged and getting inspired and not quite making it but almost making it, I will remember why I love this craft so much. I love it because I can’t stop.

It’s a really mushy love letter, a sort of pick-me up I suspect I wrote when I was feeling down about my photography. But what is so awesome is how things have changed for me since then. One of the biggest joys is that I DID find people to talk photography with, and grad school here at Columbia College Chicago has been so rewarding because of it. There are few things in life that will top the feeling of being in a room with my peers, looking at work hanging on the wall and talking not only about technical aspects but about history, criticism, and concept. I love finding artists who my friends may find interesting, and I smile when they do the same for me. It’s amazing. I love it.

And I’m going to miss it dearly.

I’m sure that we will keep in touch. We may even share a studio or start a salon. Who knows? What I do know is that we won’t get this experience again, and I’m all the more thankful for it.

Columbia College Chicago Photography MFA Graduating Class of 2017