A photo taken towards the beginning of my journey when I decided I wanted to be a photographer: 2005 on film
This is the same girl, my niece, 11 years later.
To my dear fearless, confident and passionate youthful self,
If I could give you a few words of wisdom, there are some things I wish I had known back then at the start of this photography journey, but there are also things I need to learn from you. But let me start with this quote.
“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden, and soon. Sometimes the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometimes it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned—gentle, easy, and smooth. But that my friend, is what makes you fascinating. You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.” Victoria Erickson
As the youthful dreamer that you are now, you are so filled with pure enthusiasm and love for this art. Those sparks of interest and yearning for more will carry you through the years and turn into a budding flame and a roaring passion. Do not forget that excitement you feel now or allow yourself to be daunted by the mountain ahead that must be climbed. Stay true to yourself and think only of that pure desire to capture life and beauty. All art begins with seeing and feeling. I know you already do this, but the advice never gets old, look around you and notice everything; the way wind sweeps through hair, the way light bounces off walls and around rooms, the textures and colors of everything and how they look compared to other textures and colors. The combinations are endless and you will never tire of finding more. Study these things through the lens, learn and soak up everything you see. Notice what makes a moment rich in love, seek to capture the emotions that bind a family together, discover a hidden smile, and what brings light to shy eyes. Pause to appreciate the smallest as well as the grandest of God’s creations and always remember Him in your work.
I think back often to what I learned when I was at your stage. God is the Master Artist, he has already created the beauty, I am simply here to capture it and honor him by doing so. Every element of art can be found in nature, we have much to learn from Him about the process of creation. It is in all of us to create, a base need we have to give back to the world. Especially as women we seek to create life, to create beautiful homes, crafts, art, music, gardens, friendships, families. Something I’ve learned about myself is that to create is at the core of my very being. God has given me this gift and passion and when I strive to glorify Him I create my best work. When I capture the light in the eyes of his most precious creations, His children, I feel like this is what I am meant to be doing.
Sometimes it seems like it has been such a slow uphill climb, I have found myself wishing I could jump to the end and have all that knowledge, experience and success already under my belt. However, as I learned through the adoption process we went through five years ago, God will not speed us to our destinations in the blink of an eye. And we wouldn’t want it that way either, without the journey we lose the lessons learned along the way. We cannot just be handed the knowledge without having gained it through experience, trial and error, heartache and successes. By traveling along the toughest roads we grow the most. Through the toughest times of my life, photography has been a huge outlet for me. When I’ve struggled and failed over and over again to get pregnant, the creative avenue of photography has brought peace and healing when other creative powers were thwarted.
Life is a song, it has a cadence, rhythm and movement that is breathtaking and inspiring. Capturing this essence of life is a great privilege. As a photographer you will become a story-teller, a composer, a historian, a dreamer. You will show others that details matter, moments made of fractions of seconds matter, they are priceless. You will paint with light and freeze the wind. You will have stories to tell and unfold for yourself and for others, that maybe no one even knew were there and needed to be told. You will not only tell your story, you will create your own story through your photographs.
You will feel a lot of pressure to find your style, to be different from the rest so that your work stands out. I love so many different forms and styles of art that it’s hard for me to nail down the “one” look that I want to achieve. I love dramatic and moody, I equally love soft and delicate and I’m perfectly ok with that. When you shoot what you love, your style will emerge. Grow through it, by finding yourself you will find your style, even if your style is a kaleidoscope of variations. What matters more than style is that your images have a running thread of passion, purpose, creativity, and a love of life and light. Let your hair down and bare your soul to the world fearlessly. I am still on that path to discovery, but with each heartfelt image I am one step closer. Photography seems that it is a window to the world, one to look through and admire everything around me. But it is in fact a window into my own soul. It shows me more clearly who I am, what I dream of and what is most important to me.
I envy you because at times I wish I could do it all over again. So cherish it, play more, don’t yell, choose joy. In closing I’ll leave you with another quote from this wonderful writer that I feel sums up everything perfectly for me.
“I love getting older. My understanding deepens. I can see what connects. I can weave stories of experience and apply them. I can integrate the lessons. Things simply become more and more fascinating. Beauty reveals itself in thousands of forms.” Victoria Erickson
your future self
About the photographer:
Hi! I’m Lauren Jensen and I began taking pictures at a young age. I took film photography classes in middle school and high school. After beginning a degree in piano performance I soon felt like it wasn’t the right path and switched to art and photography, in which I earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2007. I shoot a handful of client sessions a year but I mainly focus on capturing everyday moments and adventures with my husband and two boys. Beyond photography I love interior design, reading, drawing, Zumba and chocolate!