five career-defining photos

I follow the blog from Richard Pro Photo where I often find inspiration, education, and encouragement.

Richard has a regular feature called Five Career Defining Photos in which he asks photographers to identify and discuss five pictures that serve as defining moments.

In every photographer's career, there are defining moments. The moments that inspire an evolution in their art . . . The moments that remind them of where they have been and where they are going.

Even though I don’t have a photography business, this idea of reflecting on my work has value. So I thought I’d give it a go.


Apple-Picking at Jenkins Orchard in Woodville, Virginia – October 2014

This is when I discovered that still life photos could be taken as moments from my real life, where I came to see that documentary photographs could be their own kind of fine art. My heart leapt when I saw this beautiful view of abundance.

Potted Plants on Porch – Downtown Fredericksburg – April 2016

We were taking an evening stroll through downtown as a family. It had been a hard year as we had just moved my mother, who has dementia, to a memory-care facility. I felt raw as guilt and sadness were my everyday companions. And just like that, the light began to heal me, and I saw how the making of pictures might be like medicine for me.


Breakfast on a tray – July 2017

When I got the film scan back for this photo taken with Kodak Portra 400, I fell in love with film all over again and vowed that one day this medium would become mine.


Standing on the corner of Ashby St. in Warrenton, Virginia – November 2017

This photograph was taken on the first day I used my new-to-me full frame Canon 5d Mark III. I fell in love with this camera and it has been my constant companion ever since. Every single photograph from that fall day is etched in my memory as though I finally found the tool to make the pictures I envisioned in my mind.

Portrait of Derrick on Littlepage St, Fredericksburg, Virginia – December 2017

Walking up to this young man and asking if I might take his picture marked a change in my confidence. I began to see the making of a portrait as give-and-take, and I let go of the notion I needed to apologize for wanting to make photographs. With this one picture, I came to see what I do as an expression of loving kindness, shooting from the heart.

I don’t know that these five photographs are my best work, but they are surely five moments when I felt a shift. Like a plant sprouting new shoots, I could sense that my vision was expanding, my heart opening and my art evolving.

It is easy enough to drift along in life and end up where the current takes us. But taking stock of where we have been and how small choices like dedicating ourselves to practice can make a world of difference.

With every breath and every press of the shutter, I grow.