Photography- Where It All Started For Me

In high school I was obsessed with music before photography. For me the beats and melodies all came together and in it I quickly found my place. Marching band, jazz, symphonic, orchestra, punk rock: all of it I explored. It wasn't until my senior year when I joined the yearbook team that I took interest in anything more than a disposable camera. Still, photography meant nothing more than a good grade in class. Much of my free time apart from rehearsals and performances was spent in the 808 scene at different shows. I wanted to capture the live music and the energy and my disposable wasn't satisfactory. I turned to my friend, Jessica, and had her introduce me to an SLR and explain the f/scale and shutter speed combos. I was incredibly confused, but lost in the love of the quality and magic of photography. 

  <----- That's me going through photos of students and deciding who I should forever embarrass in the yearbook. I kid!

My first year of college at UH Manoa I enrolled in a photography class to educate myself on film and how to develop it (or accidentally ruin it). The darkroom easily became my second home. I loved the contact sheets, the smell of the fixer, and the possibilities and worlds you could explore with a camera. I decided to keep music as a serious hobby and pursue a B.A. in journalism, not as a photographer but a writer. I still didn't see the signs of where I was going. I wanted to research, report, and write. 
My contact sheet of Honolulu ---> 

In an effort to further explore my place in life I went from beautiful Hawaii to Cal State Northridge and transfered over there to complete my undergraduate education. Why the heck would I do that, you may wonder?  It's a long story (with a good ending). I continued taking photography classes and got into studio lighting and all the glitz and glamour of that. I was given my own set of keys to a room full of C-stands, strobes, and backgrounds. Every opportunity I had I invited friends to model for me and taught myself how to direct and instruct them how to be comfortable and give me what I wanted. My vision of photography led to a higher level of fun, but I kept it tied to my side with no idea that it'd release itself into my future. 

 <--- Dino modeling for me in the studio

Towards the last year of college I got more involved with the campus newspaper and magazine. I believed then that my career belonged somewhere in print media. During the summer I interned for Look Look Magazine and they requested my photos be used for Virgin Mobile, which got many shots of my friends on their homepage as well as on their product packaging. 

My friend John asleep --->

 <---My Press Pass, I cannot hide my nerdiness

One of my shots of the LA Music scene ---> 

As you can see, music still made it's way back into my priorities and I began to think that I could become a concert photographer for the big celebrity musicians and bands. I got the privilege of interviewing and photographing bands like Rx Bandits, Something Corporate, Newsboys, and Jimmy Eat World. Slowly, photography was becoming me. When I invested in my first DSLR I carried it with me everywhere and named it "Micah" short for "my camera". Micah is still with me five years later and remains to be my main camera. 

 <--- I was stoked to photograph one of my favorite bands

After I graduated in 2005 I took a holiday at my parent's place in Hawaii and gave myself a hiatus to think about my next steps in life. For reasons unknown I had no interest in getting a job at a newspaper or magazine. Instead I thought it'd be a good idea to launch a website with all the photos I've taken of my friends and family and many random things that made up my online portfolio. The first day of www.jenmayphotography.com I got over 600 unique visitors. I experienced my first overwhelming moment of sharing my photos. I liked it. A lot. 

From there, like a rock rolling down a tall hill, my business picked up speed to where it is today. I got a job at a portrait studio called Epic Imagery and quickly learned the ropes of professional wedding photography. Once I felt that I needed more time to run my craft with a growing cliental I became a full-timer and understood the truth of a starving artist. Many lessons and shooting gigs later I find myself still loving what I do. I thank God for his faithfulness. It's put me in a place where I daily honor him with my passion and a mission to make a difference and inspire. 

Recently, I've developed a motion of action to help non-profits and get back to my roots of journalism by partnering my photography and writing together. The results are exciting. This August I'll be traveling to Phnom Phen, Cambodia to volunteer my time and talents there. I'll be helping with an organization called Tiny Toones (you can read up on the many recent entries on my blog) and will hopefully, be teaching a photography class to the kids in that area. My goal is to chase after what I've been dreaming about, making a social impact through the simplicity of sharing a real life story. 

Please visit my Facebook group page to find out how you can help. Currently, I'm looking for donations of digital cameras to give to the kids. If you have one that you no longer need, please contact me at: jenmay@jenmayphotography.com

Photography has found it's way to me. Now it's my turn to use photography to find it's way to you. 

1 comment:

My heart expressed through words said...

The Legend behind the Legend... ;) Very cool. Enjoyed the read. As always, you rock!