Here’s something you may not know about me. I’m a photographer.
This is Florence. I photographed folks at a nursing home in east Austin for my senior project at St. Ed's.
Not a weekend photographer or a hobbyist, but an actual bona fide, went to university, interned, earned a degree, have had a camera in my hand for 16 or so years, photographer.
I earned my degree at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX where I studied under the great Bill Kennedy and Sybil Miller. My focus at school was documentary photography, but I really cut my teeth on high-end photojournalistic weddings. I had the honor and privilege of working for Bill and his business partner Jenn Lindberg-another great photojournalist, at the now defunct, or maybe I should say transformed, Kennedy-Lindberg Wedding Photojournalism. Bill and Jenn pushed my photography (and me) to new heights. I shot more than 70 weddings with them including Jimmie Vaughan’s. Talk about pressure. Bill and Jenn not only molded me as a photographer, but also as an individual. I learned people skills, I learned how to anticipate moments and needs, I learned how to open my heart, I learned how to listen.
I worked for Bill and Jenn from 2001-2005. Life was good in Austin (a part of me misses it everyday) and the wedding business was booming, but the pressure of a sick parent (who has since had a full recovery) led me to Hawaii to be with my family and down a different path. There I worked for a couple of local newspapers and considered my next step in life.
The thing about freelance, especially in the beginning is that with every move, you pretty much have to start from scratch. The work in Hawaii was fun (boy, did I shoot a lot of rodeos), and I loved being near my family, but the opportunities there were limited. There were about two main photographers on the island who got damn near all of the work. And they weren’t going anywhere. I was also depressed, and not well. Another thing you don’t know about it me is that I have hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed in 2004 after a couple of very stressful years and it took about four years for my meds and supplements to be optimized to where I actually felt normal. When your thyroid is under active, motivation and enthusiasm pretty much don’t exist.
Enter Portland. All roads eventually lead to Portland. I had been thinking about moving to Portland for about seven years after visiting a friend who lived here. That’s how Portland gets you. A quick visit, amazing food, beautiful landscape, and you’re hooked.
After a particularly dreadfully depressing night in Hawaii of begging the universe for some guidance, “Portland” popped in to my head. Of course!
Within months I had money saved, found (with the help of a dear friend) an apartment, I was packed, and was saying Aloha to Hawaii and hello Pacific Northwest! And she’s finally saying hello back.
OK that’s not exactly true, Portland has been good to me since that first grey, wet day in March 2007, but, like I said, when you’re freelance you pretty much have to start from scratch with each move. It also helps if you have a clear idea of what direction you’d like to go in. I thought it was weddings, naturally, and I shot a few after moving here, but my heart wasn’t in it, and frankly, I lost my wedding mojo. It was gone. So of course, like any good Portlander, my first few years here were spent wondering what my next move would be while half-heartedly pursuing weddings and working in a downtown coffee shop and then, of course, Whole Foods.
Aside from health benefits, flexible hours and a discount on food (best-thing-ever), WF’s also likes to recognize that some of their employees have a world or a career outside their doors. With the knowledge that I am a professional photographer, they hired me to do a food shoot for screen advertising at Laurelhurst Theatre. If any of you saw those slides back in July or August of last year, that was my first attempt at food photography. After that I was hooked. You can read more about that experience here.
Fast-forward about ten months and you find me here. Writing and making photographs for not only my beautiful readers (you), but also for local business and now, local magazines.
Soon, you’ll find a page on my portfolio site that displays my tear sheets, both advertising and editorial, but for now I show you this: my first food photograph published in a magazine. Hurray!
If you’re not familiar with NW Palate you can find hard copies in wine shops in the Portland area, but you can also view a digital version of this issue here: Issuu.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
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