This is one I am SO excited to write. I’ll just give you a warning right now, it’s probably gonna get up close and personal. Let’s start from the very beginning.
Back in January of 2018 I had just moved to Rexburg to start my sophomore year of college. I had to start all over with photography in this brand new place, and I was definitely a little worried and feeling really insecure. One night I’m sitting in my living room doing homework, and I get a message from this woman who babysat me and my sisters when we were younger, she’s always been close to my family, and now she’s a total boss mom and a complete angel. Basically she said her old roommate from college was now this incredible photographer in Utah, and every year she puts on this workshop called Light & Life for photographers who want to master the craft and…she wanted to sponsor me so I could go. Dream come true? Yes. Bawled for like an hour afterwards? Yes again. So I find out who this photographer is, and it’s Tracy Layne. Maybe one of the coolest humans on this planet, and an INCREDIBLE photographer. The only downside? It was in September and I would literally have to wait 9 months. It was torture.
Once it was finally September, I drove down to Park City for the weekend of my dreams. I’ll be honest I was a little intimidated when I got there. I was 20 years old, a college student, and felt like a total amateur and I was surrounded by these 12 other women who were a good amount older and more experienced (in both life and photography) than me, and were honestly rocking this business hard. I remember calling my mom that night and telling her there was a few women there who I really questioned why they were there, they were already so good. The reality is, I could have walked in there having never held a camera and I still would have felt welcome.
We all doubt ourselves, compare ourselves to others, and play this stupid game where we tell ourselves we aren’t good enough. It’s all dirty lies, and as soon as you realize we all feel that way every once in a while, the better. Anyways, I’ll get off my soapbox for a minute.
We had so many incredible lessons that weekend. I learned how to master any kind of light I was working with, how to edit the way I want to, how to pose (or not pose) and work with families, and how to market more effectively. We also had so many incredible photoshoots, in fact quite a few of my favorite images are from that weekend (you can see them all on my Top 10 Favorite Photos blog post).
But by far, the most important lesson I learned was from Tracy during our very first lesson about light. It was that you only ever need just a little bit of light. Do you want to have more light? Probably. But if all you have is just a little bit, you can make it work. Some of our best work and the work we will treasure the most is done in what feels like darkness. You can take from that whatever you need, and it may sound like it’s just about photography, but for me at that time, it definitely wasn’t. Think about the “dark” parts of your life. The bad breakups you thought you’d never recover from, the rough semesters that felt like they’d never end, the struggling family relationships, the deaths and losses. In the moment, it feels like you just have to get through it until you reach more “light”, but when you look back you see all the things you gained then too. The relationships brought closer by circumstance, the wisdom, the love that was shown to you. Those little bits of light got you through then, and they’ll get you through now too. All you need is a little bit of light. There will be periods of darkness, where your perspective makes you feel like there’s no light to be found, but there always is.
These darker pictures you’re seeing are pictures we took during our first shoot of the weekend. This room was a tiny black room that was really more like a hallway between two bigger, more usable ones. The only light was whatever could get in from those other rooms. And then, Tracy decided to challenge us a little extra by closing the doors to one of those rooms. I’ve always leaned towards the bright and airy style, so I had a hard time believing that this pictures would be something I could find beautiful. But they are proof to me now that darkness can create beauty. And even in an art where light is key, you only need the tiniest bit to make something worthwhile.
When I went to this workshop, I was in one of those bad places. I had just come off of the worst semester of my life (we’ll see though, this one might rival it), this boy I had a huge crush on didn’t like me back, most of my friends were gone on missions for our church, I just wasn’t having a good time. My perspective was leading me to believe that there was no light. But there was. And whatever you may be going through right now, I promise there’s light there too.