philosophy

there’s this really beautiful part of dead poet’s society in which robin williams’ character says:

“we don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. and the human race is filled with passion. and medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. but poetry, beauty, romance, love: these are what we stay alive for. to quote from whitman, ‘o me! o life!…of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…of the cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, o me, o life?’ answer. that you are here–that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play “goes on” and you may contribute a verse. what will your verse be?”

this is how i feel about art.
i don’t photograph because it’s cute. i’m not in the wedding industry because it’s cute and fun and flowery and girly and adorable. i photograph because it’s important. i photograph people and families and weddings and love because it is f****ing important.
being a photographer is humbling and has connected me more to my own humanness than anything else has. funerals, births, tears, mountains, valleys. i get to take my camera onto sacred ground, and for that i am forever humbled.

i didn’t enter the wedding industry because i was obsessed with weddings. in fact, i’ve given the side-eye to the wedding industry for quite a while. and yet i’m here, a proud wedding photographer, because photography is my way of engaging with the world. i’m here because i’m fascinated with (and love) people. i’m here because marriage is a significant passage for a lot of people. through the years, i’ve learned just how important weddings–marriage, love, commitment–are. celebration is important, and i wouldn’t do what i do if i didn’t wholeheartedly believe that. i don’t love weddings because they are weddings. at the end of the day, all of the flowery, fluffy, decorative excess doesn’t mean a thing–but the people really, really do. that’s why i’m here.
i love watching people interact, recognizing the distinct beauty of every individual’s human-ness, and i am a firm believer that we are not all that different.  i think what sets us apart is important, but what brings us together is even more beautiful. for me, art and human nature are very intertwined. i believe true art tells the truth in a way that it depicts an element of the human experience that resonates with others. it is why i (and you do too, probably) often cry at spoken words, songs, dances, and art galleries. it is the shiver in my spine or the twist in my gut that makes me feel something. it connects me to the artist, it connects me to the person i’m brushing shoulders with, it connects me with the stranger walking down the street.

a piece from andrea bogdan’s artists’ statement has stuck with me for years: they are imperfect living souls tethered to earth, caught in a sweet moment in time with their blemishes exposed. they are embarrassed, courageous, vulnerable, expectant, powerful, embattled, and satisfied. and we see it, and we see it, and we know how it feels because we are human too.”

and we see it, and we see it, and we know how it feels because we are human too.

 that’s art. poetry.  it’s exactly how i feel about real, true, honest photographs. it’s the highest honor to have a breathing, beating human in front of me. i’m moved by the stories of people making a difference: stories of people fighting and striving for love in a world that doesn’t always love back. stories of people being themselves in a world that tries to conform them. about showing somebody how beautiful they really are. stories of 2 humans and 2 families joining together. stories of a wide-open future and endless possibilities. about finding the cosmos in the chaos. something that i know that i know that i know is that everyone is different, every story is significant, and that we need one another. i need you to remind me; you need me to remind you.

there is another quote i have written down somewhere that essentially says: for every time you paint the pain and suffering, paint the beauty two-fold. for every time you shout about injustice, shout twice as long about the goodness. not because we are ignorantly turning away from the realities of darkness, but because we desperately need the reminder for the light. both are essential. keep showing up. keep showing up. keep showing up.

my responsibility as an artist is to show up and to tell the truth. my desire as a photographer is to be a comfort to you, a truthful friend; to be a see-er and to translate the magic in your eyes onto photographs that will carry on for years. to serve as a reminder. you deserve that. your loved ones deserve that. i firmly believe in storytelling’s importance.

 

show hide 4 comments

Olivia BOOM BABY!

ABBY You’re literally the coolest. you have the most sincere heart.

Natalie Kenzi,

Just curious.. what kind of camera do you use?

Your pictures are amazing!

Natalie

Shelby I am so inspired by your work, but most of all, your words! I am forever changed simply for having stumbled upon you in this place. Thank you! You’re wonderfully gifted.

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