My Kodak Moment
Otha Laphon. That was my Hispanic, Native American grandfather’s name. (Yes! That makes me a tad Mexican with some Native American!) But, you can’t see that because I’m the only person in my family that acquired all of the European traits from my father. *Sigh* My grandfather was such a genuine man and was the warm, comforting father I would never have. We had an incredibly close relationship. At thirteen, my life took a turn for the worst after a traumatic event. My Grandfather saw right through my rebellious response and he loved me through it.
Not long after the tragedy, my grandfather gave me a gift – a camera. I don’t remember the exact day and conversation for a number of reasons. But, I remember the hope that tiny, black point-and-shoot Kodak came with. Despite the pain, this moment was my Kodak Moment. Receiving that camera is something that I will never forget. For the next year, I took pictures of nature when I needed to escape. It traveled everywhere with me. School, trips, church, walks. One day as I got on the bus to head home from school, I carelessly threw my bag into the seat. My backpack crashed into the metal wall of the school bus with a loud thunk. Frantically, I opened my bag to find the screen on my camera broken. At that moment, I felt devastated.
A Photographer was Born
But my Grandfather was wonderful. He laughed at my story a little and cheered me up. We went to the store, and he let me pick out a new camera. I picked a Canon Powershot. That was the day I became a Canon girl. This little camera had so many functions on it! My entire world was opened up to me in a new way. It got me out of the chaos around me and into a world of creativity and beauty. (I did have to replace it again because I broke this one too.) This was my beginning: A tiny Canon Powershot and a need to escape.
My camera allowed me to express myself and chase after the beauty I so desperately needed in my life at the time. When I was fifteen, I won a photography contest and was published in a book. And for a number of reasons, I am not going to put that picture in here. I felt inspired and knew that I wanted to be a photographer. It was empowering to see my photo in a book. So, portfolio in hand, I met with a local photographer and asked for an internship.
Community Over Competition
I sat across from her in her studio and watched her turn the pages of this silly book I printed, studying each image. Staring at my images, she asked me what I was shooting with. In response, I pulled out my (new model) Canon Powershot and said “this.” After a few moments, she closed my book and lifted her gaze. “You have
Off I went, unsupervised, and took pictures with a DSLR. When I returned to her studio, she looked over the images and raved over the natural talent that I had. Mind you; these were all landscape shots as I wanted to work for National Geographic. She explained that she couldn’t let me continue shooting with my point-and-shoot camera and would sell me that Canon 20D that I worked with for a very low price. My Grandma agreed to make monthly payments and purchase that Canon for me.
A Natural Business Woman
It was incredible to have this DSLR in my hands. I naturally began trying to do business and would try to sell my pictures to people.I took a picture of some butterflies and bees in my neighbor’s yard, printed it at home and sold it for ten dollars. My first ever sale. At the same time, I began taking courses in film photography, digital photography, and graphic design. I picked up on Photoshop fairly quickly and designed my own watermark. The butterfly was my favorite thing to photograph, and I always found hearts in nature. So, I combined the two and put it on all of my pictures.
Growing into My Shoes
I continued to grow as a spry, eager shutterbug. Eventually, I got a new DSLR. I gave Nikon a whirl (sorry Nikon, we don’t work well together). I’ve gone through three film cameras and practiced darkroom development. I started college at Forsyth Tech as a Graphic Arts and Imaging Technology student, read books about photography and have taken a lot of classes on my own time. And now, here I am running a business and living out my dream. Despite the rough beginning and why I had a camera in the first place, it has turned into this beautiful passion that I get to practice almost every day. All thanks to the way my Grandfather loved me.
My business wouldn’t exist without him and the path I’ve taken. My rebrand is a hats-off to my Grandfather for all the ways that he loved me, supported me, and accepted me. He passed away four years ago and I imagine how proud he would be of me if he were still alive.