This image that I’m including from when “I first started” but it is as far back as I can get to right now. I have been taking photos for much longer than most, as I started when I was about 18. This photo is from 2013.
I started in film. I spent most of my college years in the dark room. And then after I graduated college, I left and started working at a job that had nothing to do with photography. I was broke and couldn’t afford film or processing. I took a couple of years off and at the time, digital photography was still not accessible to the average person. I had such a deep love for film that it was very hard for me to embrace photography without it.
After I got pregnant with my first child, I started to have a hunger to shoot again and decided to give in to the “digital age” and buy a digital camera. I started shooting again, but I had no artistic voice, just an occasional “good eye” mixed with a knowledge of my camera. A few years later, I lost my mother to cancer and my entire perspective on life, memories, legacy, art and photos changed.
If I could go back in time and tell my younger self something, it would be this:
I see you. I see you trying to fit in. I see you trying to be what you see others being. I see you trying to make things that look like what everyone else is making. I see you making photos that you think everyone else wants you to make. I know that it doesn’t feel right to you. It doesn’t make sense to you, or feed your soul. It doesn’t make you feel proud, or feel like an artist. I know that you want people to like your work, but what does it matter if you don’t like it first?
Stop. Stop with this.
Instead, let your voice be heard. Stop looking when you’re shooting, and start feeling instead. Get to the heart of it. You don’t have to fit in. It’s OK. Be you. You will find yourself if you just stop this and listen. Listen to your own voice. That is your actual strength. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I promise.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
April Kraus is a natural light photographer and artist living in Southern Arizona. She is a wife, and a mom to three. She loves finding beauty, humor and connections in everyday things.