finding myself

As a photographer, I’m constantly finding myself behind the camera and never in front of it. When I decided to dive fully and wholeheartedly into my business with a new look, I knew I needed to finally have professional images done.

With the help of my best friend, Alex, we ventured around Downtown on a foggy early morning and captured me as I am.

Stopping at the Blue Moose Cafe we fueled up with coffee and hot chocolate, where I opened up to Alex about my depression, anxiety, and my mom. It had officially been a year since her passing and I was dealing with emotions that I rarely talk about outside of the comfort of my husband’s arms.

To my own portrait session, I brought along my past good luck charm. It was a WV state quarter. The story behind it is a weird one, but one that I want to share nonetheless. I’m an incredibly superstitious person. I believe in fate and destiny and that the moon aligns with my personality in ways I cannot explain.

What feels like a lifetime ago, I once lived in Arizona with a man I was with before I met my husband. It was a crumbling relationship, mostly due in part to the fact that I was isolated and alone hundreds of miles away from my family in Morgantown, West Virginia.

When I lived in Arizona, I didn’t have a car and I took the public transport system to get to work. In my desperation to figure out if I should move back or not, I was opening a pack of quarters and the first quarter to fall out was the one you see in the above images: the West Virginia state quarter. Fate had chosen for me and it was a decision I have never regretted.

A few months after ending my relationship and my stay in Arizona, I went on my first date with my husband, Josh. The pieces aligned. The world felt right. He was, and still is, a match to my soul.

Images by Jacqie Q from a styled mentoring session

Being in front of the camera felt raw. I was exposed. It was different from just talking about my life without a camera pointed at me. This was new. I suddenly understood what it meant to be in front of the lens and what my clients must feel when I ask them questions or prompt them for real reactions.

Alex managed to make me cry and laugh hysterically in under an hour. She made it fun and we had a blast on our adventure downtown.

I told Alex I wanted an emphasis on my tattoo and my necklace. My tattoo says ‘I Will’. It’s to remind myself that I will, no matter how many times I tell myself I can’t.

As for my necklace, it is an image of the moon from the day I was born – April 10th, 1993. Alex and her boyfriend Vinny (also a very dear friend to me) gave me this necklace for Christmas – although I didn’t receive it for a few weeks. The three of us had a falling out for reasons that no longer matter. All that matters is that in my time of need, they were right there to pick up my broken pieces. With that, they gave me a gift I had been searching for.

For months, I had been in and out of new age shops in Morgantown and Cumberland, looking for a good luck charm that felt right. That spoke to me and gave me the peace I was looking for. I know that sounds like a lot for a little necklace, but I hadn’t had a good luck charm in nearly four years.

With this necklace, pieces began to clink into place. Alex, Vinny, and I picked up where we had left off just a month prior and everything was beginning to feel right again.

This past year, I thought I had to deal with everything alone. To deal with the grief on my own because everyone was too busy, or told me not to think about it, or because sometimes it felt as though I was the only one going through it. I thought, to find myself, I had to do it alone. However, surrounding myself with people like me and making friends has shown me that to find myself, I can do it with the help of others; that it is okay to keep letting people in, and if they hurt you, it is not always intentional, and it is okay to forgive. To move on.

I’ve spent so many years holding on to grudges and pain. Spent so many years unaccepting of what has happened to me and what I’ve been through. I have spent so many years feeling like I’ve finally found what it meant to be me but finding myself defeated when I couldn’t follow through.

I am finding me. And I have my true love and so many others helping me with that adventure. I am not alone – no matter how dark and twisty I sometimes feel.

I am never alone.

These are merely snippets of a long narrative I have been telling for nearly twenty-six years. It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s okay not to be okay.

Thank you for reading this far. And thank you for letting me be real with you.

I am a West Virginia based photographer who primarily photographs authentic moments filled with raw emotion. I frequently travel to capture love between couples and families, especially to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio areas. Contact me to inquire about available dates!

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