People get adrenaline rushes or excitement off of different things. Some people jump out of planes. Some gear up and play a game of basketball. Some people paint. For me, it’s taking pictures. Photography has always been my passion. Since I was a little girl, I have always loved taking photos. Even from the beginning, my parents supported me. They weren’t able to buy a “big girl” Nikon, Cannon, or etc, but they kept the disposable cameras in stock for me. I get such a rush taking pictures and later looking to see how they turn out. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. When I see that developed picture, it doesn’t matter how many years have lapsed, I can recall memories of what happened that day. That’s why I am always taking pictures because I love capturing moments and creating memories.
Some people, only, see paintings as art. You enter the gallery, and you can decide how you feel about the painting. The artist might have painted the picture with an idea in mind, and you might have a totally different interpretation. That’s what art is about. That’s why paintings are not the only form of art for me. I can see art in everything. I can look at nature, a building, food, people, sand. etc. It doesn’t matter. I see something that I can photograph. Photography is art. You can look at a picture. I feel it should evoke a type of emotion in you; especially, if it’s one that you took. I have always loved going to different art shows. I never imagined in my life thought that I would be having my own.
March 2020, the entire world was turned upside down because of the pandemic. With all the company closures, the pandemic made people turn to their passions for income. I have been in banking for over 20+ years. I didn’t lose my job, but the pandemic showed me that no one or no job was safe. God spoke to me and pushed me to use my gifts that He’d given me. I purchased a new “big girl” Cannon camera and was ready to conquer the world.
I went in full force and oblivious to what it took to be a professional photographer. I was ready to take on whatever opportunity presented. I was willing to do birthday parties, graduation photos, weddings, whatever. I had to learn that just because you love taking pictures that every event might not be your speciality. Another thing I had to learn was, living in Mississippi, the weather does not always cooperate with you. We can have all four season in one day. I would have a customer, and it would start raining, or the temperature would drop 30*. I don’t have a studio. Therefore, I lost a client. I was getting discouraged about becoming a professional photographer. Isaiah 55:8 says that “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways.” I was focusing on “trying to make additional money”. It’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the direction that God was leaving me during this season.
I love to to travel. When I travel, I come back with thousands of pictures that I have taken in only 4 or 5 days. I’d been to Jamaica December 2020 and June 2021. Whenever I come back from a trip, I will post lots of pictures on my social media outlets. During both trips, there were some pictures that I didn’t post. My spirit did not allow me to post them. At the moment, I did not understand why. It wasn’t until about a week after the second trip that God spoke to me and said for me to do a photo exhibit with the pictures that I hadn’t posted. God and I went back and forth. It was me because I didn’t think I could do it, and God isn’t going to argue. Fear was inside of me. Eventually, I told God that I will obey. When I obeyed, everything lined up for me.
The first person that I told was my mother. I had no clue on where to even hold a photo exhibit. She suggested for me to inquire at the Gumtree Museum of Art or the Link Center. She referred me to a friend, Evie, that knew people at both facilities. The Gumtree had years for their waiting list, and I’d have to submit my work for approval. I wasn’t going to wait years. If I were to do this thing, I had to do it while I had the courage. I didn’t want “approval” from anyone on my work that I’d done. The Link Center was available. As long as my work wasn’t explicit, I could have it there.
My younger sister, Zierra, had a performance at the Link Center. She was the opening act for a jazz concert. After the concert, I informed Melanie that I was the one that was inquiring about having the photo exhibit there. She allowed me to see the room. The room was perfect. I began to cry because I envisioned my pictures on the wall. Later, we had a meeting to finalize all the details of the photo exhibit.
It was official. I had work to do and a lot of work it was. With me having thousands of pictures, I had to decide which ones I wanted to use. Then, I had to edit. Editing takes hours and hours. People see the final picture, but they don’t know the work that it took to have that final picture. After I edited the pictures, I had to decide what size I wanted to print the pictures in. I had to purchase frames and place the pictures in the frames.
This process took months. There were moments that I was discouraged. I’d edited the pictures, but I couldn’t get them to upload to a website to order the pictures. The files were too large. I bought a flash drive to maybe put them on there. It was still too large. I cried for several nights. I said God, You pushed me to do this. I need your help. He did. I airdropped them off my computer to my phone, saved in a favorite file, and ordered off a different website (Walgreen’s Photo). My photo exhibit was in January. Walgreen’s photo department was slammed. They’d run out of canvas material. I’d made several of those. My anxiety level went up again, but the ladies were awesome. They would notify me of what was happening. I was able to get all my pictures and canvases printed in time for my exhibit. I had to place the pictures inside of the frames. That was an ordeal itself. I had to choose which frame that I felt went great with each particular picture. My fingers got sore and tender from doing it day after day. Lastly, I didn’t have enough tables, stands, and easels for all the pictures I’d selected. I had to rent everything from Busylad.
The week of the exhibit……I was excited but fear, nervousness, and anxiety crept back in. The Sunday prior, my pastor, Eric Burton, preached about us trying to prepare ahead and God wants us to trust Him. We didn’t need to worry about the days ahead. We need to trust God in that moment. I was on the phone with my friend, Charlotte. I can’t even remember what I was crying about at that moment. She spoke to me almost the same words that my pastor preached about the day before. I said ok. God. I am going to trust in You. Friday isn’t even here yet. Everything will be ok.
I didn’t have a clue on how to hang up pictures and arrange them nicely. I called one of my bank customers. Yep. You guessed it. I was crying. They were booked, but God touched their hearts. A few hours laters, they stopped what they were doing and came to help me. Stephanie and Jennifer were God sent. I handed them pictures, and they did their thing. I let the professionals do what they do best. If I had a million dollars at that moment, I sure would have blessed them with it. 😊
The actual day was January 14, 2022. The night was absolutely amazing. My entire outfit was perfect. I had the best glam squad for the night (Candace and Patrice). I hired my mentor, Necole Fears, as the photographer for an hour. I had live music. My sister and the crew made my want to dance the entire night away. My mom worked the door for me and had everyone to sign in. I had friends that drove near and far to support. My pastors (Eric and Kamala) came. He prayed over me, my future with photography, and took us to church. It was covid friendly, and no one caught covid because of my event.
Even though I could not see it at the moment, God worked it out for me from the very beginning. Charlotte and her husband helped me picking up rentals, and she helped me framing pictures a few additional pictures. Stephanie and Jennifer helped me arrange the pictures on the walls and on the table. After the event was over, Gillie’s Girls (Allison, Claudia, and Kim) and Elnora’s ladies (Rhonda and Kechia) helped me take the pictures off the wall. If I was alone, it would have taken me hours or a couple of days to get everything down. The band took everything to my truck and loaded it up for me. God let me know that I was never alone.
I followed through with something that I have always loved doing. Even when I wanted to quit and give up, I pressed forward. I am thankful for each person that prayed for me and encouraged me during this time. Whether you drove near or far, I am thankful for each person that was able to attend. I am thankful for the ones that wanted to attend, but things arose. It was the weekend of Dr. Marting Luther King. I picked it for a reason. He had a dream, and I did too. He was one that made history, and this was history making for me. January 14, 2022 will always be special to me. It was my first exhibit, but it won’t be my last. I am thankful for the dream that became a reality. My advice to anyone that’s reading or listening; Don’t ever stop dreaming.