My real journey, photographically speaking, began December 25, 2013. I received the amazing gift of a DSLR from my husband. I had always had a camera in my hands and had taken literally thousands of photos with my little point and shoots. Those cameras documented my college experience, my early days as a parent, and everything in between. But this? This DSLR was a real camera.

To be honest, I was equal parts fearful and fascinated. I remember being a little afraid to touch my own camera for fear of breaking something or messing it up somehow. All of those fancy buttons and menus were seriously intimidating (please tell me some of you can relate!).

I am a little embarrassed to say that it took me almost an entire year to stop being afraid to really learn my camera. I was fed-up with not being able to produce the images that I wanted to produce while being stuck in auto mode.

How I found Clickin Moms

My first introduction to Clickin Moms was in the summer of 2014 while enjoying time with friends at the lake. One of my friends mentioned the forum and urged me to look into it. “There are classes and workshops that are all online and super convenient,” she said. “It’s a really great community.” (Side note: that friend is Kate Parker.  Yes, THE Kate T. Parker of #strongisthenewpretty, before she became an international advocate for young people to be their authentic, real selves.)

I proceeded to visit the Clickin Moms site frequently for several months, hesitant to jump in and share with the talent I saw there. However, knowing that THIS was the place to learn and grow in my photography. I joined as a lifetime member in November of 2014 and I haven’t looked back.

I next signed-up for my first workshop through Click Photo School (Click Photo School is a sister brand of Clickin Moms that offers online workshops and breakout sessions) and began to absorb as much information as I possibly could. The guidance of these workshops and the Clickin Moms‘ forum tutorials and community allowed me to learn while shooting. I was creating pictures I loved! Admittedly, my family quickly tired of being my subjects. They pretty much started to run and hide anytime I came around with my camera in my hand! I know many of you have been there!

I have always been a creative person. Whether it be my brief stint in studying interior design or simply doing crafts on my own, I love art and the process of making things. But like so many mothers, my creative side took a back seat as I took on the role and responsibilities of parenting and work. I loved my life as a mom and wife, but I missed the creative me.

It wasn’t until after thousands of “auto mode” shots of my boys, several moves and job changes, and two kids who were suddenly high school-aged and relatively self sufficient that I found myself desperate for that creative outlet. I am so grateful for that special Christmas gift of a camera and for the advice of my dear friend Kate because together, they filled the creative void.

It sounds a bit melodramatic, but it couldn’t be more true: that camera and Clickin Moms changed my life. Finding and joining Clickin Moms allowed me to use my camera confidently and creatively. It allowed me to enter a new chapter of my life with a smile on my face. Photography and everything that has come with it has allowed me to be a new and better version of myself.

Who is Clickin Moms for?

But this isn’t just about me. It’s every woman.

It’s a new mom with babies and toddlers running around at her feet.

It’s a mom juggling the schedules and activities of elementary school-aged kids.

It’s the mom grappling with the emotions of tweens and teenagers getting ready to head off to college.

It’s the woman who isn’t a mom seeking a creative outlet and a place to share her point of view.

We all find ourselves at these life transitions. Inevitably, you will find yourself reflecting and trying to figure out who you’ve been, who you are and who you are going to be. Roles change, interests evolve, and goals shift. It’s part of life and the changes are almost always good!

While there are countless ways I have grown in the last several years, my growth as a photographer has been the key. It has allowed me to learn and challenge myself after so many years of “just being Mom.” (I say “just being Mom” with the utmost pride and feeling of accomplishment! It’s the best and most important thing I have ever done.)

What I’ve learned

With Clickin Moms, I have learned how the exposure triangle works and studied composition. I have learned how to see natural light and how to use artificial light for a natural look. I have become confident in editing my photographs and have established a style as an artist.

Related: The exposure triangle explained

I have set and met many photographic goals, the biggest personal accomplishment being earning Click Pro status in the spring of 2017. Even better, I know I have only scratched the surface! There is always so much to learn and I am so grateful to have the Clickin Moms community to guide me and to learn alongside me.

The best part

The best take-away and perhaps the biggest surprise to me throughout this journey is that I have made so many incredible friendships over the years. From my fellow students in various workshops to the women I sit next to at Click Away to the artist who left a kind comment on my forum picture share, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing human beings.

With Clickin Moms, we have the unique opportunity to be a part of one another’s lives on pretty much a daily basis. Sharing our milestones, destinations, and dreams through pictures solidifies friendships in a special way. Our bond of a common passion transcends distance and time. Clickin Moms offers an opportunity for those relationships happen and a space for them to grow and flourish. That is what it’s really all about: the journey and those who are on it with you.

What’s next

The ONLY regret I have on this journey is that I didn’t start a long, long time ago.

It is a lot to juggle a family and a profession!

It is a lot to juggle the emotions of being an empty nester!

It is a lot to ask for the space to pursue your own interests in the midst of life’s demands!

You are not alone. I am here to tell you that it is important to create the space to grow yourself. It is an important endeavor and I know you won’t regret it.

Having a community that knows what you are going through is essential and Clickin Moms is that for me. The combination of friendship, talent, and inspiration has been a huge part of my growth as a photographer and as a person as I navigate the changes in all areas of my life.

On August 17, 2018, I moved my boys in at the University of Alabama and traveled back home 3,000+ miles away from them. There were tears as I watched them embark on the journey of their lives for sure. However, now the dust has settled and I can approach this new adventure with confidence…and with my camera in hand.