Why is Photography important to me? Why did I get started? These are just some of the questions that I’ve been flooded with in 2014. When I took a moment to really think about the answers to those questions and compile the words to form my story, I cried. I hesitated on posting it in fear of judgement, and overall I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. But, after telling my close friends my why, they began to understand me, and my business on a whole new level. So my goal in telling you this isn’t so that you’ll feel bad, or sorry, but that you’ll feel a little more motivated to capture pictures with the ones you love, whether it’s with your Iphone, or by investing in a professional.
So here’s the honest, gut-wrenching truth to why-I-do-what-I-do.
When I was eight I was your typical tom boy. I tattled on my brothers, loved playing capture the flag in the street with the neighbor kids and my brothers, fought with my brothers most of the time, and loved them part of the time. I was a total daddy’s girl, and ALWAYS prayed for a little sister. What child doesn’t pray for a sibling at one point in their life, right? Haha. And, guess what? I got one! I couldn’t have been happier.
A few years later my life changed forever. I remember the day so clearly. It was the beginning of May and I was 8 years old. I was on the phone with my dad and I knew he had something important to tell me. In fact, I had heard bits and pieces of what the conversation was going to entail, around the neighborhood. It seemed like the neighbors and their kids knew the news sooner than I did. As I sat there on a grey sofa I heard my mother say, “I’m not going to tell them, you need to tell them.” That’s how I knew it was just as bad as I imagined. My mother always had my dad tell me the hard stuff. I sat on the couch waiting for my dad to tell me what was going on. I can still remember the sinking feeling the moment the words escaped from his mouth that my only sister had died. Can you imagine being a child, praying for a little sister, you get one, and then all of the sudden, in an instant, she’s gone? That’s what had happened. It was hard for me to even comprehend at the time. Years following my sisters death, I searched for a photo of her. I hunted through boxes and albums, but I couldn’t find a single one. That was when I realized I needed to make this right. I needed make sure that I always had a picture of myself and the people I loved in case another tragedy ever happened. In middle school my dad bought me my first film camera. Then in my second year of high school he bought me a brand new slim, digital camera that was small enough to fit in my pocket. It was amazing! It gave me the ability to see and have pictures instantly. Throughout high school my passion for photography grew. I loved documenting my family and friends. I took pictures every day, updating photos often so that I always had recent photos of those most important to me. In high school I took my first photography class. I knew what I wanted to be…a family photographer! That was until my peers began saying things like, “Photographers don’t make money, unless you’re in the wedding industry.” “That’s a nice dream, but that’s not reality. You need to choose something that you can make a living with.” So, I stopped following my passion. I went to college with a goal of becoming a counselor and being the first in my family line to graduate from college. During the last semester of college I received a phone call from my dad. I knew it was another bad phone call because it started out with, “Hey Britt. Where are you? Are you sitting down?” I remember telling my dad to just tell me what was going on because the worst was running through my mind. That’s when he told me that my Uncle Jim had committed suicide. My heart dropped as the tears rolled down my face. I lost one of the most important people in my life. I was just texting him two days prior. I was in shock. It was one the most depressing times in my entire life. Still to this day it brings me tears, even now as I write this. My uncle wasn’t a fan of pictures; he would do anything to avoid having his picture taken. Good thing I was his favorite niece though, because somehow I had managed to get pictures of him and I, together. Maybe it was because he let me take them, or maybe it was because I was so persistent, but my goodness… It was one of the best things I had ever done. Looking back on the pictures of me and my uncle was like having a blanket of comfort to wrap up in. Although he was gone, it brought me just a little bit of peace. My uncle wasn’t Christian by any means… and I think that makes it a lot harder when you lose someone because it’s not like you’re saying, “I’ll see you later”. The next 5 months were a blur. I honestly don’t know how I was able to keep up my grades and be eligible for graduation, but a few days before graduation it really hit me. Was this diploma in Social Behavior and Self Development really the path I wanted to take? Or, did I want to make a difference and photograph families so they’d have pictures for when the day death knocks on the door and wants to take a loved one away? Did I want to help counsel others, or did I want to create hard-evidence and tangible items for people who could find comfort in a picture during a time of grief? That night I remember keeping my decision to myself because I didn’t want any doubters like I had in high school. I prayed to God about my decision before bed, and I woke up the next morning, eager to launch a business. I had no idea how to launch a business, and definitely no idea on how to be a photographer. I didn’t even know of any family photographers at the time, but that didn’t stop me. I told the two people that I knew would be supportive, my dad and husband. As I told them, the idea of being a family photographer wasn’t even a suggestion. It was a fact. I just said, “Hey guys, I’m a Family Photographer.” I owned my title in hopes that people would start viewing me as a family photographer, and it worked! With it being a few days before my big graduation day, they were caught off guard (as anyone would be), but they were eager to help me achieve my goal. At this point, I had never owned more than a $200 camera, I’d never met a family photographer, and I had never taken a family portrait. Now in 2015, as a self-taught, professional family photographer, I get so excited before each session. I feel so blessed to have the ability to capture these moments and bring comfort to those who can look back on pictures of the people they love the most, like I was able to do with my Uncle Jim. I get to make a difference through the art of photography and provide something that’s so much more than just a picture. It’s a blanket of comfort during tough times, a piece of artwork to decorate a home, and an heirloom to be past down for generations. – Brittney Kincannon