The Road to Here

the journey that brought me to my career as a photographer…

My mom had this Minolta…in this pleather brown camera bag. I was always intrigued by the things in this bag.  I would dig through it (when I was told not to) and I remember seeing lenses, filters, a flash and other goodies — pretty much everything I have in my own camera bag now!  I remember her always taking the photos as opposed to being in them. We have a joke in our family about this… that now I am the one missing from the family photos since I am doing the shooting.

In high school I signed up for an art class — a photography class, to be exact. We were given Canon AE-1 film cameras and a lens. We learned to process film, make prints (darkroom experience).  One of our assignments involved shooting for the yearbook.  I remember taking pics of some of the kids who, for whatever reason, had not  yet had their senior pictures taken.  I guess that’s when I did my first set of senior pics!  So, in essence, Mrs. Orr (art teacher at Belle Plaine High School, MN) was the one who started me on this journey.

I took another photography class in college while studying psychology.  The class was very technical and, frankly, was not fun for me at all!  There was no creative freedom, all darkroom and text books.  At that point, believe me, I was not thinking of a career in photography!  The class was almost all male with everyone taking pictures of cars and landscapes while I was the only one to take a photo of an actual person, a baby, actually.  My peers criticized my subject matter for not being (in their estimation) “art.” Funny, the mother of that baby still has that photo in her house to this very day.

Undeterred, I continued to shoot in college and then really started enjoying it after my first daughter, Emma, was born. I used to prop her up and dress her all up (like a doll!) and photograph her, using my fancy semi-professional camera I had just purchased. See photo of my very first images from that very camera (taken July 4,1999) Soon I was doing pics for all of my friends in our neighborhood.  In fact, my first bonafide “client” was a friend from my Mommy and Me group. Before I knew it, I was in business.

So was my college degree a waste? Majoring in Psychology though I make my living as a photographer?  Not at all! My true passion is not so much taking photos, but the people I get to take the photos of… I love getting to know them, their stories…. helping them feel comfortable and confident throughout the picture-taking process, which can be pretty daunting at first for most people not used to having that kind of focus and attention aimed at them.  My clients routinely tell me that I am “good with people,” that I understand them… (thank you Psychology professors!)

Whatever the route that brought me to this challenging and incredibly rewarding career, I am grateful to everyone who was instrumental along the way… including my amazing mentors… whom deserve their own blog post!

Angie B. - April 29, 2011 - 11:03 pm

That is funny – I too was bitten by the shutterbug in High School. I needed one more elective and figured, take a few pictures and get an A….never thinking that this would be my true passion. I’m now doing real estate photography and loving every second of it. I also do photos for friends and neighbors which is a BLAST.

Jen Hendrickson - May 22, 2011 - 3:38 pm

Amy – this is beautiful. What a wonderful thing to be doing what you are passionate about and loving every minute of it. Dare I say, I am a bit envious. You are an inspiration to me! Your photos are gorgeous, the way you see people is amazing! Sure wish I had known this was your passion when I got married! I really enjoy your blog and seeing your images! Just beautiful!
Be well!

Amy Allen - May 24, 2011 - 5:50 am

What a thoughtful comment Jen…Thank you so much! : )

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