How I Got Here

You can find out a little bit about me and my family HERE, but for a first blog post, I wanted to share how I got into photography to begin with. And it was NOT because I was taking pictures of my kids. If anything, it was a bit of an escape from the whole motherhood thing.

I enjoyed taking pictures as a kid and was always fascinated by the art and science of photography.  When I studied abroad for a year, I was easily recognizable, typically lugging my 'big camera' around my neck wherever I went.   I loved it because it had a long zoom and I've always enjoyed close up photography.  Other than that, I never considered it a hobby.

However, portrait photography is actually pretty new to me.  I had bought myself a Canon Rebel a few years back but didn’t really understand how to use it and kept it on Auto most of the time.

A little over a year ago, though, I was really pushed to take a class as part of my plan to improve self-care.  As a woman and mom, I had been struggling.  After the birth of each of my children, I experienced some form of Postpartum Depression. The first time around, it really caught me off-guard as I knew nothing about it and the combination of having a mental illness on top of becoming a new mother really squeezed the life out of me.  Thankfully, it led me to my first interaction with therapy, mental health care and became an overall maturing experience.  

However, the repercussions of going through such stress and emotional instability were severe.  The experience stripped me of whatever self confidence I had and confused me tremendously.  I didn't know who I was, how I'd gotten there and where I was going.  I wasn’t able to experience joy on a regular basis and being around any form of crying from my kids caused additional angst.  This is all part of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, but it even once I identified it, it didn't make handling it any easier.  I had to learn to reframe so much of my life and make a lot of lifestyle changes along the way.  Obviously this is all the extremely shortened version of the past 8 years.

Enter: Photography.

After a particularly difficult  stint of experiencing a lot of anxiety, I decided to commit to taking better care of myself by signing up for a class that would provide an outlet for creativity.  I didn’t know if it would help or if I’d like it, but I have always enjoyed learning and I figured after it was over I'd at least know how to use my camera.

Let me tell you, the first couple classes were hard.  The technicalities of photography were confusing and I had to battle the constant urge to get down on myself for not getting it right the first time.  Taking that class forced me to face myself and the way I spoke to myself and worked through challenges.  It was the beginning of a lot of internal acceptance and forgiveness.  

As the information continued to click and as I started putting myself out there, asking friends and family to practice my photography with them, I really saw a shift in my overall mood and demeanor.  Honestly, to this day, I am still amazed at how something so simple could have such a deep impact on my life and my frame of mind.  Learning and mastering a new technical skill forced me to learn new ways of combatting my inner critic working through challenges.   I am learning that my self worth doesn't need to be dependent on anything that I do and how well I do it. 

Working in this field has given me a lot of satisfaction, especially when it comes to connecting to my clients, the other mothers and women in my community.  I named my business ‘Self Image Photography’ because the impact photography had on my own self confidence is something I want to be reminded of on a constant basis.  It keeps me humble and aware of the ups and downs I've experienced and that I can't stop working on myself.  It reminds me of the fact that I want to use my own story as a way to connect with other women and encourage honesty and real support for each other.  I bring this intention and energy into my interactions with clients before a session, how I connect with them during the session, my editing, and then my presentation of my work and product creation.

I'm excited to share this and connect with you!  What has your mothering journey been like? What kinds of activities do you do for self care and boosting your self confidence? Please leave me a comment!

Rivkah Leah

 Kodak Easy Share Z9570
 
 Palos Verdes Family Photographer