The Photography Industry, in 2019
Since 2010, I have slowly plugged away at this career. I spent the first 3-years soaking up as much knowledge as possible, and the next 4 years pulling back so I could spend time with my newborn.
I live within my own realm of existence, somewhere between dealing with a disability and living as life as close to normal as possible. My condition can be summed up in one sentence: “As a movement disorder, the constant movement and painful muscle contractions of severe Dystonia-plus syndrome can be equated to working out 18-hours-a-day”. Can you imagine working out 18-hours a day (with a baby and a business?) It’s exhausting. Over the past three decades, I have been incredibly lucky to have found treatment to curb progression. But the tired thing, still hasn’t gone away. It never will. (parents, I know you can you relate!).
I’m also incredibly fortunate to have my own business and my clients are some of the most wonderful people in the world.
People ask me “Why Photography?”; and the answer is simple: I chose a camera, because for a split second of time, it allows me to record something completely motionless. It represents the very thing so many of us want so badly: freedom
I jumped back into this in 2018 and the past year and a half has been blurry and down right confusing; I’ve watched organizations try to elevate women. I witnessed corporations capitalize on individuals to boost their sales. I have felt the beat of the industry fall short of something spectacular.
After speaking at the Fearless Conference in 2016, I had a wonderful idea in mind about how we can, as artists, work to find the beat to our own drum. To follow, I was rejected by seven conferences (let’s add a magazine into that mix, too). Read that with an undertone of fact because the paradox this creates is the problem: In a nutshell, you (the company) want people to pay for your service to learn about diversity and yet, you’ve made a grave assumption that you are the only person in a position of power to pick and choose who is deserving of that? Please re-read that sentence. You have knowingly elevated yourself and continue to prolong the problem; the real power of any individual lies within.
It’s a well known fact that people with disabilities continue to be some of the most marginalized people in the world and without inclusion, this stereotype, like so many others, will be perpetuated. And it’s a not so well known fact that 1-in-10 Americans live with a Rare Disease. One in ten. Chances are, this has or will hit home closer than you think.
Time and time again, these groups fail to move the needle of change for a population that represents such a large and often forgotten part of society.
Marginalization exists because someone, somewhere along the line, decided someone else wasn’t capable because they themselves lacked the vision and heart to understand what it takes to cross the barrier between reality and possibilities. And then they convinced others they were right.
There’s a catch, though; this only holds true if you believe it.
You might ask why I’m writing this, and the truth is, I have waited and waited for those who have a louder voice than my own, to help me bridge the gap between these two worlds. And time and time again, I’m left frustrated that so few want to help ignite this change. It’s easy to start your own conference or collective; it’s infinitely harder to create an impact.
You might also ask why this matters, why is this woman ‘whining’ and why am I reading this? And the answer is simple: Because I’ve crossed between those worlds and I believe that people need to see and understand their own possibilities. I write this for everyone out there that needs a voice. If you want to bring everyone to the table, then bring everyone to the table. Period. I learned to push boundaries because art exists; there were no boundaries, no walls, and no limits. Why the hell are you imposing them now?
If you want to know what tires me the most, it’s having to constantly stand up for what’s right.
To the photographers, artists, and anyone ready to listen: Please open your eyes. Beauty is found everywhere, every second, of every day. Diversity and inclusion stretch beyond walls that are not readily seen.
The amount of dedication and hard work that’s required isn’t for the faint of heart. But the second you open your eyes to possibilities, you’ll see the potential.
Find your own strength.
To my clients, friends, colleagues for taking a chance with me when no one else would, I’m forever grateful for your support.