Photography has always been a passion of mine; from an early age it was something that fascinated me, but moving to England and getting my first DSLR (a Canon 450D) sparked something within me. There have always been choruses of "You need to do something with your pictures", but something was always holding me back. After a trip to South Africa and Namibia, my friend Chris helped me put together an ABCs of Africa for my nieces and nephew, but after stumbling across an article about making your own coasters something seemed to click. With that ChaitonPhotography was born, and slowly (as I was trying to perfect my coasters) an instagram account, a facebook page, and even business cards were made. But it wasn't until today, while trying to apply for my first craft show, that I was asked to tell my 'Brand Story'. I'm a brand. For someone who struggles to self-advocate, this was a tough story to write.
My same friend Chris (who has believed in me even when I didn't want him to), has been ever persistent in trying to get me to start a blog. Blog about your adventures while traveling, blog about your photographs, blog, blog, are you blogging yet? But to be honest, it scares me. I've always written behind closed doors, as writing for the world makes you vulnerable. It's easier to stay in your bubble, but as he reminded me just the other week: "Here is your comfort zone", he says while holding up a clenched fist, "and here", pointing to the area surrounding it, "is where the magic happens."
Lesson one: Ditch the dream.
We are all dreamers. We dream of the next trip, or the dream guy, the dream job, or seeing our name in print. We dream of eating healthy, exercising, and getting to that ideal weight. We dream of what we want to become, and how we are going to get there. We dream of becoming the perfect parent or friend. I also thought it was important to dream. After reading Shonda Rhimes' book 'The Year of Yes' I no longer believe that dreaming is helpful. Rhimes said Yes to making a commencement speech (something that scared the bejesus out of her) at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. She said something that stuck with me: 'Ditch the dream. Be a doer, not a dreamer.' Dreams are these things that we hope for and wish for, and see when we are sleeping. Dreams are untouchable, and intangible, and seem so out of reach. Dreams don't account for the man hours, process, and work that it takes to accomplish those dreams. You need to do. So here I am, in my own Year of Yes, doing not dreaming.
I started off like anyone else when having to write a 'Brand Story' for the first time. I opened up my computer, clicked on the google icon, and typed in "How to write a good brand story". The first thing it told me to do was to write your past, present, and future. Doing so required me to think about what photography means to me and how it has affected me in my life. I remember so vividly taking photographs of certain places or things; it has become part of how I experience life. It has pushed me to go to certain locations, and really look at what I see there. It has helped me discover the world, explore a moment, and create something to be cherished. Discover. Explore. Create. Photography has kept me doing instead of dreaming.
As with any words on a typed page, my story is not concrete and it will grow as I grow. I have included my brand story on my 'About' page, but here it is as it was first written:
There is always a moment, when taking a photograph, that you know you’ve captured something special. I have been taking photographs for as long as I can remember. My mom recently showed me an old letter, written to my Grandmother, when I was 7 years old describing how we had been making pin hole cameras at school and how excited I was about it. Photography allows me to look at the world in a different way. Through the hustle and bustle, in this ginormous universe of ours, a camera focuses on one particular moment in time and just for a second, stops the world from spinning.
I moved to England in my 20s, and it was there that my passion grew. I was discovering new places, exploring cities, and seeing the world in ways that I never had before. Instead of just being in a new city, photography allowed me to experience the place. I was looking past the buildings to what I actually saw, seeing the beauty in the everyday. I began traveling the world, being fortunate enough to see the most wondrous landscapes. Upon returning home, to Ottawa, I started looking at our city in the same way. It was no longer just the place I grew up, but it was a vibrant city filled with just as many sunsets and sunrises as the plains in Africa, or lagoons in Bolivia. I started appreciating the drive to work everyday, especially crossing the bridge over to Quebec, seeing the river as it changes in the light throughout the seasons.
ChaitonPhotography grew from a love of taking and sharing photographs. I had always wanted to do something with the moments that I was capturing, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon an article about making your own handmade coasters that I was really inspired to create. From there ChaitonPhotography was born: discovering, exploring, creating; the spark that ignites our passion.
I invite you to share in my journey as I discover, explore, and create, and hope that you share your journey as well.