“Ice Cream Sunrise”~White Pocket, Arizona Taken with a Nikon D850, and 14-24mm f/2.8 lens

There’s a lot to be said about self discovery, and finding out who you are and your place in the world. I sure as hell am not a guru on this subject but I’ll tell you that 2017 was a year of personal growth for me, more than any one year of my life.
In 2016 I dropped everything to move across the country with my little family, leaving behind siblings and parents but with all of the support and love I could hope for. We set out to chase a dream, so I could pursue my passion in photography and grow a business that would allow me to flourish personally. At the time I was skeptical, something I’ve never really been but I’ve always worked hard for what I want and achieved it through adversity and challenges. I truly thought “Who the hell is going to want to learn from me, especially paying me for it?” “no one would ever want to learn from me, or take a workshop from me”. Honestly when I moved here to Moab, no one should have, my work was uninspired and boring, reflecting back. I have learned so much about photography in the last 18 months.
It’s been a year and a half since living in the desert and it was about 8 months ago that I had an “Ahah!” Moment, an event that completely changed me to the core. It took a handful of arrogant, elitist photographers to push me to my breaking point, I had a public melt down, and called them out on Facebook. I made an ass out of myself but I still stand by my beliefs, and don’t regret it. But it taught me that I was paying too much attention to NOT ME, and too much to others. I was so worried about others coming to Moab to lead workshops and whether or not they were putting the work in to be legal and legitimate like I was, I was worried they’d impact what I was doing and take away from my progress, and take money away from me.
I stepped away from social media on a personal level, I unfriended, and un-followed 95% of the photographers I had followed and left anything photography related. For the most part it wasn’t malicious, it was because I realized I was desensitized, and it was preventing personal growth. It was preventing me from even wanting to visit places because others had gone and been there, which is just plain silly. I thought “I cant improve on that”, and then I realized that its art, and I want to create ART, art is subjective, it cant be good or bad, so what was I comparing myself to? For some that desire to compete is a tool to improve but I now believe that if you can see that your personal work is an extension of you that you’ll truly be free to grow.
I didn’t know at the time but doing this, stepping back has allowed me to truly find myself, and discover my own style, techniques and compositions. I became too infatuated with everyone else’s images and progress that it clouded my own judgement and it was becoming toxic. I was fueled by jealousy and anger which is never good. In these last 8 months I’ve really become happy with my work and it has helped shape me into a better, more compassionate, wiser person. It’s allowed me to spend time reflecting on choices and human interaction which is important when you’re an educator.
Most of you know that I’ve left the stability of a day job to pursue my dream full time. Leading photography workshops has become my passion because I enjoy helping people, teaching people and providing memorable experiences in amazing places. I think I’ve finally started to dig my niche in the world, and although I’ve lost some “friends” and acquaintances, along the way I’ve made new and discovered who’s truly there to support me!
This journey has had a lot of ups and downs, financial, physical, and psychological. But in the end, at the heart of it, its been tremendous in teaching me ways to overcome, adapt and grow. Which is really what life is all about, right? Growth?  Learning to become who you are. To experience things, and places and be as happy as you can?
For some, they can go through life existing, coasting through and are fine with that, they can overlook their own short comings, attitudes, and the impact that has on others and that’s fine, but if you’ve ever gotten to a point where you think you know it all, have seen it all and don’t need to learn any more, or care about your impact then you’ve achieved something no one ever has.
I live my life by a few simple rules:

  1. Never stop learning, and growing.
  2. Never be afraid to fail, but hate failing so much that you succeed.
  3. Live like you will die at any time

and I’ll spare you the sappy stuff.
I find my solace, and am at my most peaceful state when I am exploring, and adventuring. Alone, or with my little family or the few good friends I have. Its the time I get to spend just turning off my brain and mentally relaxing, reflecting on where I am, what has happened and looking forward, positively to the future. To me there is no better way to discover yourself than when you can fade away into nature.

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