Time for some embarrassing photos
get ready for questionable fashion choices and a healthy dose of awkwardness…
Hi there! I’m Renee.
I have a scar in my eyebrow from a time when I was a kid and my mom gave me a quarter to use in a gumball machine. I got so excited that I ran to the gumball machine, slipped on the wet floor, and went sliding, eyebrow-first, into the spout where the gumballs dispensed from.
That one story may tell you all you need to know about me as a person.
I’m best known for sipping on tea like it’s my 9-5. Chai is typically my vice of choice.
I’m also one of those weird people who genuinely enjoys carrot cake. As in, it’s what I ask for on my birthday and have done since I was a kid.
Weird, I know.
I have a degree in psychology, which means most people think I can read their minds.
I definitely can.
I’m also a photographer.
I like to think that I’m as good at photography as I am bad at approaching gumball machines. (Do you have to sneak up on them? What’s the secret?)
Photography obviously wasn’t the first career option I pursued. I bumbled around with different career paths before picking up a camera. Counseling wasn’t a good fit; telling other people how to live their lives gives me the collywobbles. And graphic design is boring to me: in the words of Pam Beasley from NBC’s The Office, “it’s just designing logos and stuff.”
I genuinely thought that I was one of those people who just wouldn’t have a passion to follow in life.
I’ve always been creative and for years I had known that I wanted to work for myself, but I never had that lightning-bolt spark of passion with any creative or non-creative discipline I tried. I actually first bought a camera when my husband and I were considering starting a business making handmade frames from some gorgeously weathered reclaimed wood we had around. I got a camera to photograph our work to put online. In learning to use this new, complicated piece of tech, I found that I really enjoyed it.
I spent months researching and teaching myself about all things photography. And then one day, while floating around online looking at photography classes, I finally ran into documentary family photography (DFP for short). I was interested, so I bought the class on Creative Live (this is not a paid endorsement, but seriously, check them out).
The course wasn’t even halfway done and I knew, clear as day, that this was what I was supposed to do with my life.
No other skill or craft or discipline or career path had ever called out to me like DFP called out. DFP is this beautiful fusion of art and psychology; you’re constantly required to read people’s emotions and anticipate their actions while placing those people in a composition that conveys the feeling of the moment. I was struck. DFP was this immense, dazzling, effectual, and inescapable challenge that I had to rise to. I can only liken the experience to what it was like to fall in love with my husband; it was that quick and that powerful.
I truly love photographing families and providing those families with images that communicate who they truly are when they are just enjoying their life and the precious memories they are making with one another. These unscripted, authentic, emotion-filled moments are what make life worth living. No posing, no lights, no fake smiles. Just real people living real life. The images that I have like that of my own family are the ones I love the very most. Those are the images that pull you in and make you feel like you’re back in that moment…that’s what I want for me and that’s what I want to provide for others.
There are tons of amazing photographers out there who photograph how beautiful families look. But I love being the different one in the room that photographs what it truly feels like to be a part of those wonderful families.
So I’ll gladly embrace being the odd-ball. You can find me in the corner, happily munching on some carrot cake.
It honestly feels a little cheesy to say that I’m one of those people who has a defined passion in life. But (and I say this with deepest thankfulness), it’s true. Feeling directionless in your career is tantamount to feeling worthless. I fully empathize with anyone who is on that path. I am always open to providing to others the resources that helped me.