When Ben got his job with the RBBB Gold Unit Band, I was seven months pregnant with our son Kai. Normal people might have turned it down on account of a new baby’s arrival being disruptive enough to one’s life, but we [correctly] guessed it would be a fun next step that would suit both of us.
After Kai arrived and we “moved in” with the tour, I suffered from debilitating postpartum depression which didn’t fully go away until Kai was nearly out of toddler-hood. In the midst of this incredibly bleak time in my life I discovered digital photography and started taking my camera to shows while infant Kai was strapped to my chest, usually sleeping. At first I had no idea of how to get compelling images in a dark arena full of fast-moving people and animals, but I had some lucky captures (as well as many gigabytes of shitty/blurry/dark images):
Before bringing the camera to shows I mostly stayed holed up at home in our trailer, scared of being unable to make new friends in an environment where I felt I didn’t belong (I am usually one of maybe two adults on tour who just tag along). Through my pictures though, I felt I was able to contribute something to the community of people who worked to put the show on, and through that contribution, I got to know Ben’s colleagues, the performers, and the crew.
I went back to work before the end of Kai’s first year and haven’t lived on the road completely full-time since then, but I continued to shoot the show as often as I could, always with Kai in my lap or strapped to my body. Through the publishing of my circus pictures (on Facebook, which is an incredible boon to anyone with a photography business), friends started to think of me as a photographer, even though I didn’t yet. My then-acquaintance-now-friend Breanna Perry and I collaborated on a series of early pinup recreations, leading to an interest in studio work and portraits. Here’s a little sample from that very fateful first shoot:
I look back on these images now and see technically mediocre photography, but I also see my style emerging, which is how I think all photographers would like to think of their early work.
Shortly thereafter, I landed my very first paid photography gig with Philly bluegrass band Ladybird, who trusted me with creating their first formal imagery for their group. Here’s my favorite shot from that set:
From that point almost exactly two years ago, I’ve adopted a “shoot more and figure it out” approach. I took my camera with me on business trips, asked friends to sit for portraits, continued to refine my circus action shots, and I’ve even started getting requests for paid photo sessions on a semi-regular basis.
After losing my job in software seven months ago and being shut out of my industry due to contract restrictions, I threw myself into photography full time. What has resulted is a fledgling not-quite-business that brings me a lot of joy and gratification, though not a lot of cash. With the closure of the Gold Unit I’m going to have to give up full-time photography shortly and get back to being a knowledge worker. There’s nothing I’d like more than to be an artist full-time though, which brings me to nearly the end of my little bio and the beginning of my short plea for your support:
If I’ve taken your picture at some point and having it has helped you in some way, I hope you will support me through my Patreon campaign. If every performer with the circus in the past four tours contributed just three dollars every month, I could continue doing photography full-time and focus on building my business to be one that could actually support my family and me. Of course, that would mean more and better-quality pictures for everyone to enjoy and to use for promoting their acts. I know that many performers have used my images to land their next jobs, and I’m so glad that I’ve been helpful. I ask for you all to consider helping me now. Even one measly dollar adds up over time. And even if you are not a circus performer but I’ve taken your picture without accepting money in return, I hope you’ll also consider becoming a patron.