This month marks 9 years as a photographer. This June, Vince and I celebrated our 9-year wedding anniversary.
When I decided to start my business, I was 18 years old and Vince had just deployed to Iraq. I had no idea what I was getting into. Would people want to pay me? Would people take me seriously because I’m so young? Can I make this a career?
Since I opened, Vince was seriously hurt in an accident, medically retired from the Marine Corps, got his MBA, and is how a CPA. We had a daughter, who was born premature and had surgery hours after birth. We have had less than $10 in our bank account, moved four times, and buried multiple loved ones.
Through it all – all the chaos, all the ups and downs, all the heartbreak and confusion – my husband and business have been my constants. I’ve talked about my marriage and my husband on multiple occasions so today I wanted to talk to you about my job.
Let me start at the beginning. My dad always had a camera in his hand on vacations. When I first started out I named my business after him – C. Allan Tinsley – or Callan Tinsley Photography. I kept that name for quite some time before changing it over to Mary DeCrescenzio Photographer. And while my dad had a huge impact my love for photography grew from my dark room classes in High School.
And I credit two of my best friends for getting me into photography. Rachel & Will.
Well, to be honest, Rachel and I weren’t really friends when she showed me her prints from photography class in during one of our drama rehearsals. It was sophomore year and she had her camera set up in the audience and was taking photos of our rehearsal. I walked over to her and asked her about it. We existed around each other at that point, never really clicking until late Junior year, but I remember the photo she showed me of her younger sister playing in the rain. It was a stunning photo and to this day is etched in my mind. It was that moment when I knew I had to take our schools photography class.
So, I did. But I didn’t have a 35mm camera and I couldn’t find my dad’s Olympus. In comes my best friend Will, who so kindly let me use his sister’s 35mm Yashica (thanks Laura! 😉 ) . Roll after to roll. Hours under that red light. I fell in love. (I must pause here to thank my mom for paying for all the supplies, goodness knows that class was an expensive one!)
Rachel moved to Arkansas for school but we keep in touch. Thankfully she knows how much she impacted my life and photography. Will passed away shortly after graduation and I often wish I could just tell him how grateful I am for that 35mm camera.
Last month I blogged about our trip to New Bern. During that trip, we had dinner with Will’s mom and Laura. Towards the beginning of dinner Laura asked me about that old 35mm camera and if I still had it.
My heart sank. Yes. I still have it and I have selfishly held on to it for the last 9 years because besides an old Auburn hoodie and some photos, it’s all I have of Will. But, if Laura wanted it back, I wouldn’t have hesitated.
Instead, she told me she wanted me to keep it. She told me it makes her so happy to know Will was such an important part of my photography journey. And oh, he has.
I often credit my dad for my love of photography, and yes he was a huge part of it, but the truth is, I owe so much to my dear friends. Without them I would not be where I am today. They are such an important part of my journey and I am so embarrassed that I haven’t talked about them more.
Because of that fateful day at drama rehearsal, Rachel introduced me to film and darkroom. Because Will was such a giving person and graciously loaned me that little old camera, I learned to shoot film.
And here I am 9 years later. Doing what I love because of the ones I love.
And Laura, I have cried writing this more than I truly care to admit. But that night after dinner, when we saw the double rainbow, your mom said “that’s William.” And for the first time in almost 9 years I felt like he was there and was telling me he knows how grateful I am.