This semester I was approached by Michelle Joyner (Director of Development at Nashville State Community College) with the opportunity to photograph an event called Tennessee Flavors. It's an annual tasting event that brings together Nashville’s top restaurants and food/beverage artisans for a delicious evening in support of the Nashville State Community College Foundation.
I was eager to accept the invitation to document the event for a few reasons (free food and alcohol might have been a couple of them). Ultimately, I discovered that I missed using my camera to just take simple pictures of people and how they exist.
It is so easy to get stuck in categories as a photographer. Many of us think that we have to find one thing that we love and then stick to it for the rest of our lives. Some people want to work in the fashion industry, some want to become photojournalists or fine art photographers. Some believe that they will only ever enjoy shooting portraits or landscapes or animals or whatever it is that they like. The truth is that we are way more complex and diverse than that, and we owe it to ourselves and everyone else to explore our talents.
I love the work that I do with fashion photography, and I am always really proud after a day of shooting and a night of processing. However, I found myself having a lot more fun shooting this event because I wasn't being held to such a high standard. I didn't have to provide my own lighting or wardrobe. I got to just shoot people having fun and being themselves. I got to blend in with the crowd and just look at all of the energy and life around me. It was amazing.
While the pictures were taken for someone else, I still feel as if they are completely mine. The way I felt while I was there lives in these pictures. I have always had a hard time connecting myself emotionally to images the way I feel other photographers do. I usually just want to make things that look good, whether they mean anything to me or not. However, I feel that shooting this event shifted my perspective entirely. I feel happy when I look at these images, and that is what makes them so priceless to me. I'm not seeing the technicalities of each photo, I'm seeing the emotions in each photo.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that even though it isn't my typical work, I have grown exponentially for having been a part of this experience. Learning never ends, and the gift of learning can be given to you anywhere.
A huge thanks to Michelle Joyner and Lauren Bell for hiring me and also to Emily Naff for suggesting my name to them! I had so much fun!