Continuing our Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self series, is the quirky - sweet Kristi Blankenship, the main shooter behind the amazing work of Made to be Mine. Kristi and her partner in crime Nathan, urge you to delete that pin board you poses and trust them to create and capture you in the moment as you are - head over heels in love and real human beings. Keep on reading this raw, honest and real piece of advice from Kristi to her teenage self.
You’re awesome… you totally don’t care what anyone thinks. Run with that…it’ll help you survive young adulthood. Also, I’m telling you right now, going to high school in the 90s/early 2000s is a GODSEND, you do NOT want to see what high school looks like right now.
I know you think you wanna be a teacher…and you will be. You’ll teach at the dance studio, you’ll get to work with some awesome special needs kids…but that’s not the whole story. Your heart is in your camera. You’ll get one in about 10 years, and you’ll love it. At first you’ll think it’s just going to be a hobby, and then you’ll do your first portrait shoot and know what you want to do with your life instantly.
The photography world is a hot competitive trendy mess. You’re going to hate that part of it. But here’s the thing, don’t compare yourself to the others. You are not them. You are you. You are awesome. You have a voice and it’s going to take you a little bit of time to find it…you will get easily annoyed/frustrated/angry over other competitors getting glory. Luckily, you have a supportive husband and family telling you that you’re awesome on a daily basis. Support is necessary.
Take risks. That sounds damn cliché but it’s true. Don’t be afraid to shamelessly ask people (no matter who they are) to model for you, reach out to vendors in the industry, and TALK to people. If you don’t put yourself out there, nobody will know you exist. Take care of your heart. Your heart is the ONLY thing that matters in your work. So don’t shoot things that don’t freaking matter to you…if your heart isn’t pumping with excitement and inspiration, then what the hell are you even doing?
And do me a favor, don’t worry about everyone else. It’s a shady shady world, especially in photography. There will be people posting all over the internet like soulless automatons. You do you, and don’t worry about them. Show your real self and shoot the way you want and edit the way YOU want…screw trends and peer pressure…that crap needs to stay in high school where it belongs.
Guess what, you’re going to travel…a LOT. But don’t make your photography only about that…look around…go EVERYWHERE. We’re in the Midwest, it’s kind of lame…but there’s lots to explore. Go all over the Midwest and photograph people… never. stop. photographing. Even if you have NOTHING booked for months, go out and shoot people. Don’t lose your practice or your fire. And don’t forget to make time for the people in your life. You marry an AMAZING guy and your family is STILL awesome…make time for them. Schedule your blogging + editing + social networking…so that you have your work time as a separate thing. Don’t waste that precious time stalking other photographers and wishing you were them. You’ll hurt yourself and it’s doing nothing for your art to do those things.
Know that you kick ass in your own way. Keep pushing + working to be what YOU want, not what you think everyone else wants you to be…not what you see in other photographers…just yourself. Once you start doing YOU all the way, your business will explode. And it’s still ok to cry. It’s in our blood, emotion runs deep. Find someone you can vent to about these things and get the tears out and go forward. Again, be as authentically YOU as humanly possible.