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COLUMN: Photography saves local woman during her most trying times

To those who struggle, find something to make you happy. Make yourself find peace.  Make yourself live another day 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a guest column submitted by a local woman whose passion for photography helped her find her way out of a very dark place.

Photography has gotten me through the hardest times of my life.  

From the age of 9, I always have had a camera in my hand. From the disposable cameras in my elementary school years to the high-tech digital camera with all the accessories I have now in my late 30’s, the love, and need, for capturing the beauty around me has only grown.

The first camera I ever bought was a Fujifilm FinePix S. I was excited to get home and start shooting photos. This was the beginning of my photography journey to learn and educate myself to take beautiful photos for others to enjoy.

Shortly after starting at Bay Mills Community College in 2011, I met a man who I didn’t know would change the direction I wanted to go with photography. A few months into our relationship, this man not only destroyed my camera, he also tried to destroy me.

I was devastated.

It only stopped me temporarily from pursuing my dream and finding peace in capturing the beauty around me. His destroying that camera only made me more determined.

I still had the camera on my phone and continued to take pictures without an actual camera in hand.

However, the abusive relationship continued for six years but I never gave up my passion.

Eventually, that relationship ended, and my love for photography grew even more.

I was doubling my photo intake. I was taking photos everywhere I went with my phone. Most of those pictures were of my children. 

Taking pictures of nature didn’t have a huge impact on me yet.

Eventually, I would take more and more walks on the trails, and take fall photos of a friend of mine and her children. I would go to my parents every fall and take photos of my own children, my family and other friends. I loved putting smiles on their faces when they would receive their photos. I enjoyed every click of the shutter taking hundreds of photos in a day. 

A friend told me that her family made her a blanket from the memories I was able to capture. It was a realization that I was able to do what I love and put smiles on people’s faces. This was an amazing and exciting feeling for me knowing I made a family happy. It made me want to keep moving on with my dream no matter what life threw at me.

After my father died in Dec. 2015, I made the courageous decision to leave my abusive relationship.  At that time, taking pictures was my go-to for even more peace and release. I started doubling my photo intake. I had to. It was the way I was going to survive.

I got married in 2018 and that year was the biggest year of my journey yet. He understood how much I loved photography and introduced me to more advanced equipment.

Fast-forward to 2023.  

My love for picture-taking took a hit in February. I developed carpal tunnel and other issues in both hands. It was hard to manage. I had surgery to correct the issues. Eventually, I got back into the groove of taking pictures. Then I took another hit. My husband picked up and left and never came back. Again, depression returned.

I found all my summer and fall photos and just focused on my photography and learning to edit photos. It kept me positive and hopeful.

I am not exclusive to these kinds of hardships in life. Some have had it worse than me. 

But I can say this.

To those who struggle, find something to make you happy. Make yourself find peace. Make yourself live another day.  

For me, that is photography and of course, my three loving wonderful children.

I am happy and proud of the direction I am going. If you would like to see my work, please check out my Facebook page.