I get asked, frequently, "How long have you been a photographer?" It's a casual small-talk maker, and I always get tripped up. Why? Because I've loved photography since I was a kid. I'd steal my moms Kodak Instamatic with the square GE flash bulb that popped off after 4 photos (yes, I'm dating myself) and I remember their warmth in my hand. That gave way to the 110 film cameras I'd abscond with and take photos of whatever I could corner long enough to press the shutter. I can't tell you the times my mom would pick up developed photographs at Hook's and quiz me about the photos she didn't remember taking.
My first real camera came from my dad. He didn't give it to me, directly, but soon it became more mine than his. In the fall of 1983, my first model shoot was Kamby, our next door neighbor. She was 2 or 3 at a time when parents were thrilled when the next door neighbor offered to watch your child for an hour. :-) We traipsed around in the woods next to our houses and I filled a roll, developed them and showed her mom. That's when the cat jumped out of the bag. I was 13 and the bug bit me hard.
I sat it down one day, I don't remember when. Somewhere between Algebra and getting my driver's license and I never picked it up again. I filled the time between with marriage, babies and pursuing "some" career everyone said I should have, that made me happy. I can't tell you the many jobs I was extremely successful at, but left me knowing in my heart that I wasn't meant to be there.
In 2002, The Goshen News hired me as a reporter and I subbed a little as a photojournalist. The bug was still there. I photographed fires, accidents, community events, sporting events, reunions, The Elkhart County 4-H Fair and even my daughter's senior photos. That evolved into some of her friends senior photos, which evolved into their wedding photos, then baby photos and here I am, living my dream.
I'm so pleased that I've been reunited with photography, and that my clients have blessed me with their precious families to photograph, and their funds to support what I do. Having the ability to wake up every morning and never "work" a day, makes my heart smile.
You've waited long enough - here's my first photo session ever. Forgive the iPhone photo of a print. I was 13, and on the back of the 4x6 I wrote: "Kamby Essig, too dark, not facing the light." Funny, I still catch myself doing that every once and awhile.
Love and smiles-