A Farewell to the Industry That Grew Me
I’d be hard pressed to find anything that has taken me so quickly and deeply as photography.
From the moment I first picked up my dad’s hand-me-down film SLR in the eighth grade, I was completely captivated, and it never stopped. I felt a draw and a passion toward this thing unlike anything I’d ever felt before.
I apprenticed, interned, and shadowed under photographers of all tenures and expertise. I learned what a snoot was, how to hold a reflector, and how to make people feel good about themselves even when in real life they were awkward as hell. And in this hobby of mine, I found a voice. I found an identity. Suddenly the girl no one in high school knew was the girl with the camera. I had a reason to be places. I had a reason to talk to people. And alarmingly, people let me in.
It was this invitation, this sacred space of being able to be with people, that arrested me. The camera was no longer just an instrument for creating photographs, it was a passport into other worlds. A shy girl with an intense curiosity for other people now had the credentials required to bear witness to the lives and minds of other people.
So naturally, as many young female photographers do, (particularly back when I was coming through, when the photography industry was much more heavily male dominated) I became a wedding photographer. Now, this passport provided access to the most intimate, impassioned, and significant moments of people’s lives. This too, took me. It was a massive adrenaline rush every time. It was an almost unbearable challenge every weekend. And then afterward, a heaving sigh of relief like what I imagine an athlete feels as they walk off the field knowing that they left every ounce of purpose in the game.
Weddings took me to Paris, Colorado, DC, Nashville, and Asheville, by oceans, and lakes, and mountains.
They took me to backroads churches with beaten ancient wood floors, no air conditioning, and decade-old dust in the window panes.
They took me to the homes of rockstars, opera singers, and artists.
They took me inside of prayer circles.
They took me to secrets I’ll forever keep.
They took me to a love/hate relationship with the entire Journey discography, because no matter how many times you hear those songs, you have to admit, they work like a charm.
They took me to countless industry friends, cheerleaders, and supporters…because no one really gets it, like the people who get it.
When I try to digest the gravity of the opportunities that being a part of this industry has afforded to me, I am overwhelmed.
When I think about the faith that countless clients have placed upon my unworthy shoulders over the years, I am humbled.
And when I think about everything I’ve learned from all those Saturday nights in orthopedic shoes, I am grateful.
Weddings have taken me to many places. But they have also taken me away.
Away from birthday parties, family dinners, rights of passages.
Away from my grandmother as she was placed in hospice before a wedding.
Away from sleep while balancing a 9 to 5 and working every evening and weekend.
And I don’t know what the future holds. But for now, I am highly convinced that it’s time for me to claim back some of those important things. Over a decade has passed since I first began my journey into the world of weddings, and I am still just as captivated by my relationship with my camera as I was all those years ago, but now in a different way. It took me a really long time to realize that just like in a marriage, my relationship with my work and with myself will shift and evolve with passing time. And it has taken effort and grieving to accept that I’m not who I used to be, and it’s okay to step away from things I’ve built when the timing feels right.
In 2005, when I claimed the name Suburbanite, she felt like a character. A different self I could try on for size. She was determined. She was passionate. She was empowered by the presence of a camera in her hands. I realize now, that I don’t need her anymore. I have grown into someone who is determined, passionate, and empowered, with or without a camera in my hands. Suburbanite presented to me a challenge: “Can I become this fictional person that I want to be?”
Yes, Angie, you can.
And so here I am, making official proclamation that an invaluable chapter in my life is coming to a close. It is certainly not a conclusion I’ve arrived at offhandedly, but for someone who is admittedly terrible at making decisions, I feel very at peace with this one.
So where do we go from here? Many of you know that in 2014 when I quit my full time day job I focused most of my Monday through Friday efforts on building Angie Webb Creative, my branding and website design business (fun fact: I went to school for graphic design, not photography). I’m excited now to be able to devote more intentional time and energy to my design clients and continue growing this business.
And of course, I am still and always will be a photographer. I am currently enjoying pursuing creative passion projects, documenting personal travel and life, and working with brands to create the kinds of images they need to build a better business (in the industry we’d call this commercial photography). I recently hosted a beginner’s photography workshop (some of my past brides even attended, HOLLA at my ladies!), and I can’t tell you how much passing on the knowledge I’ve accumulated warmed my heart.
I don’t totally know what my life, my career, or my future looks like, but I know that I want to be open to the possibilities that life has to offer. So I’m not putting any hardline definitions around anything, and I’m not putting any pressure on myself to figure it out today. Maybe in six months you’ll see me off shooting weddings again. If I’ve learned anything from my experience here it’s that life is nothing but one winding, daring adventure after another, and the more open we are to letting the destination remain a mystery, the more fun we have on the ride to getting there.
So I hope that if your internet browser has found you here on this website, that you’ll continue to follow my journey in the future. If you’d like to keep up with me professionally, you can do so here. And if you enjoy reading the words I write and seeing the pictures I take, I’ve got a brand spanking new photography/personal blog site over here.
Above all, thank you. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve carried me in some form or fashion down the road I’ve traveled, and to say that I’m forever indebted wouldn’t be enough. To have the opportunity to work at all is a privilege. To call my passion my work is a marvel. Thank you.