I love people’s stories. I like to know where they came from, how they got there, and the people who helped. Since everyone in the world must think like me, I quickly concluded you must feel the same way and want to know how I ended up with a camera in my hand.
It all started with a summer job. I nannied for a beautiful, recently divorced woman, who was a “photographer of life,” as she called it, before her marriage. One morning, I walked into the living room and saw her looking at an album, filled with beautiful pictures of a safari. She told me stories of adventure, passion, and tribulation from the excursion. She spoke about the experience and her photographs like they were connected to her soul on a thin, distant piece of thread. These images were more than great shots, they were a depiction of emotion, surrounded by thrilling travels, and a bittersweet memory.
Songbird Photography by Stephanie Herrell
It wasn’t but a few years later that I found myself throwing a paint brush in my college dorm room. I had enough. I could easily express emotion through my paintings with words, but I could not paint people. No matter what, they all looked like cartoon aliens to me. I thought there had to be a better way, and then I remembered the safari. The captivating, emotional, and genuine safari.
That’s when I thought, “I can do that.”
Being a somewhat stubborn and driven woman, it didn’t take long before I had a camera in hand and subject to shoot. It took even less time for me to fall in love with it. There is something wonderful about winning a kid over so he or she finally gets comfortable in front of the lens. I love encouraging laughter and “naturalness” so we can get a great shot of a couple just being themselves. It all was so creatively exciting. I wasn’t on some crazy safari ride, but I was on a ride that made my blood rush faster and my heart fill with joy; I was cruising through a part of someone’s life with them and helping them to remember it in the best way. It was an act of freezing time and magnifying beauty and I love it.
For years and years, it was just a hobby. Then, one day, I actually went on a safari. That’s when I got it. You can call it an itch, a sensing, a tease, or a craving, but I wanted more. I wanted more time behind the lens and more things to shoot (and still do). As God would have it, I got just that. Within a year of my safari, I quit my job to move to Germany temporarily with my husband. Talk about time to shoot. We are in the country and the internet is spotty, friends were few, and excursions were plenty.
So now is the time for the leap of faith. Now is the time that the itch can be scratched and the general interest can develop into something more full-time. This season of life, I am turning a past time into a profession. What began with a safari transitions into a personal adventure all the same.
For more shots from my South African safari (which basically, everyone should do in their lifetime), you can click here.