My journey into photography was a sort-of twisted one, but not unlike many artists or entreprenuers. I went to school, JMU specifically, for its School of Media Arts and Design (SMAD) program. I had worked in commercial photography studios as a high school student and developed a love for it through yearbook and journalism classes in school, but in my free time, my friends and I were constantly behind video cameras and editing software. I knew I had the passion and wanted to gain the knowledge - so I set my feet the direction of pursuing a media-based career.

Only I didn't get into the program. Twice I applied, twice rejected. For no apparent reason, really - I fufilled all the requirements and provided all the necessary recommendations and paperwork. But the Lord had a different plan for me.

I figured

Well, I love kids and if I go into teaching, I'll be able to use my passion for media as a catalyst for engaging instruction and creative assignments. Eventually, maybe I'll even run a mini photography business on the side...

So I switched my focus to education.

I got a degree in English, a minor in World Literature, and added my Master's in Secondary Education. I made lifelong frineds in that program. It was because of some of those friends that I met my husband as well.

And then I graduated. I got married. We moved to Hawaii. And I thought...

> What now?

I was only going to be there for a year and a half, and we moved right in the middle of the summer -- a tough time for a new teacher in a new state to break into the system, and knowingly be hired on for just one full school year.

So with my husband's unconditional encouragment, we decided I would give photography a real shot. I got a professional grade camera and top-of-the-line editing software. I bought professional-level books and watched courses for established shooters. All of it was SO above my head. I didn't know how to use any of it and it was completely overwhelming. I started calling myself a "business" before I hardly knew how to use my camera let alone brand, market, and sell. But I did know that I had a desire and a spark for this life and I wanted to make it work.

I joined groups for other beginners to practice. And God guided valuable mentors into my life. They showed me that it was possbile to make photography more than a "side job," that it took work and lots of practice, but it was also fufilling and fun and full of possibility. They showed me tricks for using Photoshop (and not over-using Photoshop), tricks for posing and working with people, and they even helped me get my first clients.

My gratitude to them was (and is) so great, I knew that one day I wanted to repay the favor and be a part encouraging someone else's journey. I'm finally getting to the point where I feel I can actually do that with some value, and a few weeks ago, I got a small glimpse into what it's like to join teaching with photography.

Meet Loghan

I saw online (craiglist) that Loghan was seeking people to help her build her portfolio. Something in me smiled as I recalled that I had done the same exact thing when I first got my camera. I responded and we met for coffee. I learned she had recently graduated and was in transition but loved photography and wanted to learn more. We shared stories and I gave her names of books and tools that were my biggest resources starting out.

We met again a few weeks later to practice shooting together, and it felt so good to be able to answer her questions confidently and give tips that I'd learned from my own experience. I've learned over the years that to participate in community instead of competition with other photographers at any level is not only productive, but good for the soul. Even though she's moving soon, I wish Loghan the best of luck in her journey - whether its in photography or elsewhere - and hope that I was able to help encourage her in some small way.

See some of Loghan's work on her facebook page.

She got me in front of the camera for a few shots, too :-)

Curious about my Hawaii mentors? You can find out more about them on their websites: Bob the Camera Man & Laura Aguon