Guest Feature * Twyla Jones*
I unintentionally began my career in photography almost three years ago. I had just had my second son and found myself wanting so much more than what my iPhone was capable of producing. I wanted to record memories that looked more like the way the felt to me in that moment. Instagram filters could only do so much. So I bought a Nikon d5100 for Christmas that year and immersed myself in a world full of exposure triangles and color wheels.
When I first picked up a camera, I was working as a Histologist in a Pathology Lab located in a very small town in Kansas. I had a 1 1/2-year-old and a 6-month-old. I always imagined I would do something more creative than 9-5 job, but I never would have guessed picking up a camera could add such a satisfying outlet of creative obligation and direction I had searched for my whole life. I had never experienced the kind of tunnel vision focus I discovered when I began studying photography. I consumed books, tutorials, and videos as quickly as I had my hands on them. Something inside me had been ignited and I was determined to reach some sort of technical aptitude to release these feelings I had about things in a visual way.
As most moms do, I posted my photos I was taking to my Facebook. After a couple months of this I was contacted by someone looking for photos of herself and her son for his fourth birthday. I knew I was still limited in my resources so I scraped together what I could to purchase a 50 mm 1.8, a macbook, a website and lightroom. I devoured a couple of books on lightroom and felt ready to tackle my first session. I already knew this couldn’t be like the other work I had seen, everyone unnaturally posed next to something in the middle of a field that would never actually be there. So I planned an adventure through the woods for them. The photos received such a positive response that the inquiries began to build quickly and I accepted every session type eager to find out what it was I connected with the most.
As the work began to build, I found myself working more and more throughout my free time. Even needing to take days off work to keep up. I soon had to scale back my full-time job to 30 hours a week. After moving to Florida I took my job with me in an attempt to work from home but could no longer justify the crazy hours I was trying to keep up with between the two. I had to choose between the security of the first or a belief in myself that maybe I could be a valuable contributor to the art of seeing beauty so a few short months ago I finally found myself working as a full-time photographer, the relief felt amazing.
I feel I really experienced a turning point in my work just as I found out we were moving from Kansas to Florida. I still had so much work to do that I had never gotten around to! There were all these amazing locations I had big plans for but for all the reasons never got around to. It almost felt like I was dying and I had one month to complete my wishes, so I got to work. I bought the clothes I wanted to shoot and found people to take out and fulfill my visions. It was during one of these shoots I really embraced what I was doing. The realization that I was always capable of going out with someone and recognizing the beauty in them and our surroundings brought such a freedom to my work. I didn’t need to look at anyone else’s beautiful work for inspiration or worry about how to pose someone. I just needed to be. I needed to look within and really think about the moments I was experiencing with these people and bring out the beauty I saw in them. I have never known such a fulfillment in my work as I recognized when I began creating this way.
So anyway, hi! Believe in yourself that you could be good at doing anything and allow yourself to make the time to do the things in life that fulfill you. Experience and creation of anything at all, I believe, is what it’s all about.