“Why”

by Shelly Williams

April 26, 2018

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We all have a why… why we chose the career we did, why we chose to live where we do, why we wear certain things. Well, here’s my why. This post is probably going to be lengthy, so kudos if you read through.

I started photographing when I was probably 13-14 years old. I would take my uncles camera and head out to my horses field. If you know me, you’ve heard this story several times. I would spend every afternoon taking photos of my horses. I would wait for the sunset to get a nice golden glow, I would actually chase them around trying to get action shots (I’m sure my uncle laughed hysterically at this). Finally, I decided I needed a camera of my own, and I needed a good one because the photos I was taking with the point and shoot were just not good enough. I got my first DSLR camera at 16, that’s when things really got off the rails. I started driving the golfcart down the road to photograph other people’s horses. I turned 16 and drove myself to horse shows to photograph horses there. I went anywhere I could just to photograph a horse.

It wasn’t long before I got my DSLR that my first horse, Cody, had to be put down. I remember the day like it was yesterday, eight years with him was too short. It was a really hard time, I knew he was sick, but I didn’t know we would be putting him to sleep, and suddenly he was gone. The horse who I had grown up with, the one who taught me everything, and the one who put up with so much just to keep me safe. He was awesome. Just writing this is making me emotional because he was my heart horse. He got me into photography, I wanted to capture him because I loved him. That horse was the most important thing in my life, I spent countless hours with him, I wanted to remember everything about him. Unfortunately the photos I spent so long taking of him aren’t around anymore. A few laptop deaths later and most of them are gone. I never had professional photos taken with him, and I only printed a handful. I hold onto the ones I do have of him, and have printed several since his death because I don’t want to lose them. I can always scan them back onto a computer, but I’ve learned first hand that digital images are not there forever.

Enough of my sad story, now to the meat of why I’m writing this: my “why”. Why do I photograph? Why do I love it so much? Why do I give my clients everything I have? We photograph what we love, we photograph what we want to remember. I’ve always done it. I wanted to remember my horse, I photographed him. I still do it, except now a little smarter than before. I have professional photos taken with my current horse and I print them out because I’m terrified of losing memory of her too.

People deserve photos, they’re incredibly important. Everything changes with time; the people we know, how we act, how we look, everything. People deserve to remember what they love and why they loved it so much. People deserve to look at a photo hanging on their wall and smile every single day. People deserve to flip through an album 20 years from now and reminisce. I want to make sure my clients get that.

I want to be sure that I capture their emotion. If they’re a high school senior, I want to document their personality and their excitement for the future. I want them to have fun and get comfortable enough to show me who they really are. If they’re a couple, I want to see the intimacy between them. I want to know why they love each other and I want it to be apparent in the portraits. If it’s a horse and rider… well those really hit my heart. I want to capture the bond that can’t  be broken, even if the horse has made you eat dirt 100 times. I want to illustrate why you keep believing in him, because he is your partner and for some reason he has changed you as a person and you will remember him forever. People deserve that.

It’s more than just a photo to me, it always has been. It’s a story, a memory, a bond, a connection, a time in your life that you will now remember forever because you decided to invest in the wonderful gift of a portrait. It’s not a piece of paper, it’s a not “money”, it’s irreplaceable, something you will have for your lifetime. Even if it’s tucked away in a box because you’ve ran out of wall space, the memory is still there. It’s still there waiting on you to come back and reminisce, because we all do. How many times have you looked at old photo albums? Saw your grandmothers old black and white photos and said “look how young she looks!”. People deserve that; we all deserve that. Nothing will ever replace what it means to have a photograph.

There’s my why. My desire to give people what they deserve: a memory that will last a lifetime.

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