2020 has been a year I don’t think any of us will forget, even though I’m sure most of us would like to. After losing several family members and being diagnosed with cancer last month, it’s been the toughest year of my life. As much pain and stress as this year has brought, it’s also taught me so many lessons I’m thankful for. The first one is life is so damn short so we need to live every day to the fullest. When I moved to Philly almost six years ago, the biggest thing fueling the decision was my fear of complacency. For the first 22 years of my life, I lived in the same town and that was all I knew. One of my biggest fears was only ever living in that town so after I graduated college, I decided to move to a major city with no job, a couple thousand dollars in savings and no clue what I really wanted to do with my life. I had no hobbies, no passions, nothing I considered myself good at. I picked up a camera right before the move to document my life in a new city and the rest is history. Philly made me fall in love with photography. It started with street photography and quickly turned into portrait photography when I responded to a craigslist ad by a fashion blogger named Tomarra looking for a photographer. I had only taken portraits of my sister prior to shooting with Tomarra but I was ready for the challenge.
Five years later, I've met some of the most amazing people, shot for a long list of brands located in Philadelphia, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone over & over, and I even shot my first wedding this year. I never could’ve imagined doing any of those things six years ago. I finally have something I’m passionate about and while the specifics are unclear, I know that I want to spend my life doing something with photography. Every time someone buys a print to hang up in their home or tells me the photos we took made them feel beautiful, my heart fills with joy. Due to COVID-19, I didn’t shoot from the end of March to the end of July which took a huge toll on my creativity & motivation to shoot. I’ve shot maybe 8-10 times since then which is dramatically less than previous years but I’ve genuinely enjoyed each one of them. This year I’ve learned that quality is so much more important than quantity. In years past, i’ve done shoots out of obligation or just to create content because I thought i needed to post on Instagram all the time. I’ve also gotten back into bringing my camera with me when I travel and shooting again in nature has brought me a lot of joy. Adapting to the things life throws your way has been another huge lesson I’ve learned this year. Change isn’t easy but once you learn to roll with it, life gets a little bit easier.
One thing that’s always been hard about living in Philadelphia is being away from my family. I’m so thankful to have my twin sister as my roommate but my mom is my other best friend so only seeing her every month or so has been rough. As much as I’ve loved living in Philly, I never stopped being homesick. My heart has always been in Maryland with my family so this year when my maternal grandmother & grandfather both passed away, I was devastated. After my grandfather’s passing in May, I spent two months living with my parents as we grieved and it gave me a glimpse into what life could be like if I moved back. Every time I’m home, I feel a comfort I don’t have in Philly. I always rejected the idea of moving back to my hometown because it felt like taking a step backwards. It felt like failure. I always feared my photography career would be over if I ever moved back because it’s so much smaller than Philly and I’ve worked so hard to build a client base here, why would I give it up? This year, Ive realized that I don’t have to “give it up” if I were to move back to Maryland. We have these awesome things called cars (after 6 years of living without a car, your girl finally has a car and i’m so stoked about it!!!) and my hometown is only two & a half hours from Philly. I can easily continue to shoot with those I’ve worked with over the years and I can grow my client base in Maryland & Delaware too.
So, you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this. At the end of December, I will be leaving Philly and moving back to my hometown in Maryland. It wasn’t an easy decision and I know I will miss living here terribly. I will miss the energy of this beautiful city, I will miss the feeling of being so small in such a big city, I will miss the sense of community you feel when walking through one of the many unique neighborhoods here. I’ll miss the superficial things like walking to Trader Joe’s on my lunch break to pick up all my favorite snacks, or the trips to Reading Terminal Market for veggies or the best chicken curry. Philly and I aren’t breaking up, we’ll just be in a long distance relationship. I’m still mildly terrified of losing all my clients & models once I move so please don’t forget about me because I’m still only a DM or email away but I’m also excited for all the unknown. Not having a car in Philly severely limited the places I was able to visit so once I move, I’m hoping to travel more in 2021 so that’s another thing I’m looking forward to. I just want to say thank you to every single person I’ve met while living in Philly because you guys have truly made me feel welcome in a city where I knew no one. When I moved here, I had a grand total of one friend and now, I have countless, most of which were made through photography. I’m so blessed to have as many people support my photography journey over the last six years and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Let’s go 2021!