How to know “this shit” is for you

My passion for photography was not immediate. I’ve mentioned before how it was a tug-of-war battle between my mom and our family. Then after her passing, I found therapy in it but the passion didn’t blossom until later in my journey.

When I first started out in 2019, I tried every genre of photography session. Families, newborn, maternity, couples, boudoir, etc. For many reasons, maternity through newborn and up to family sessions were what made me happiest. I was a new mom without a mom herself, so I knew exactly how precious every moment I captured was. I used my love as a mother to really hone my skill and appreciate the beauty of storytelling.

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”

Ira Glass

Something was missing for me though, they didn’t quite “fill me up.” There was a part of me that felt like I was gravitating to these types of sessions because they were easy. So close to my heart and effortless to tell the tale, motherhood captured me but I still didn’t feel “the spark.” It wasn’t until I had a very unique couples session for “Save the Dates” that I became engulfed in authoring the love of two beautiful souls.

These two were captivating, fully in love with every inch of each other. I had to give them very little direction and just watch the pure romance unfold right in front of me. It’s something so hard to explain but so easy to watch. When two heart’s just dance to the beat of their song, I was hooked. I realized how quickly I lost track of time while working with them and I wasn’t upset about it.

After some time working with couples it hit me, EVERYTHING in the photography and wedding industry is hetero-normative. Where were the gay couples? Lesbians? Trans? All of the above? WHY didn’t I see them as often as every other photographer posted cis-het couples? Having a family member who is part of the LGBTQ+ community I felt terrible that I wasn’t doing better as a human being with inclusive representation. Especially since their “coming out” to our family was much less than supportive. In my heart, I was an ally and inclusive but I wasn’t outwardly doing enough – I was perpetuating the segregation cycle and enabling it to continue. I realized my flaws and I wanted to take action, to create what people needed to see.

“What did they need to see?”

Themselves. When people look to hire a photographer, they want to be able to see themselves in their work. They need to be able to envision themselves sharing their intimate moments with this person and feel they can trust their photographer. How is it possible for the LGBTQ+ community to feel safe with a photographer all up in their space snapping pictures when their work doesn’t showcase love similar to theirs? I’m here to tell you, it’s very hard. With so few options, some feel they are left with no other choice than to take a chance. Most times leaving them feeling uncomfortable or subjected to gender-norm direction by the photographer and posing them as they would a cis-het couple. Seeing this so often, I wanted to fix it. I wanted to create a space in this industry that is fully inclusive and adamant about LGBTQ+ representation. Then take it a step further and use my platform to educate those who need it.

Thus, Sol Flower Photography was born. In present day I have been fortunate to have LGBTQ+ clients work with me to create the beautiful images I’m able to share today. That took a lot of “give and take” in the beginning. Mostly in the form of “modeling sessions”, also known as “time for prints/tfp” to build up my portfolio and gain experience. Although they weren’t paid sessions, I didn’t care. I wanted to be better, to do better and let the LGBTQ+ community show me how. No matter how nervous I was stepping into every session, then and now, I have always put my heart into it. Every single time I have been met with nothing but grace and sweet sweet compassion that I could not be more thankful for.

To those clients, I owe all of this to you. Without you, I wouldn’t be half the person nor photographer that I am. Your gentle teachings and support have helped me build the confidence to blaze a path forward in this industry for all the right reasons. I could not be more proud to showcase your love and continue to push for change in more ways than just the photography industry.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am constantly learning. There is not a day that goes by that I’m not educating myself on the LGBTQ+ community, my business, my skills, and my own self care needs. I’m very happy to say that where I am in my business is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have built in my entire life. Aside creating my beautiful children, of course that one is a given though. Regardless, my journey isn’t over yet but I can tell you one thing for sure… who I am and the brand I have created is not subtle. I am not quiet. I do not back down and I will continue to face any nay-sayer that tries to say that ALL love is not or should not be equally celebrated. They can try but history has shown that the LGBTQ+ community does not take kindly to bigotry or brutality. This ally doesn’t either 😉

Thank you for joining me here and I hope that you have enjoyed this post. If you did, don’t be afraid to show it some love in the form of a like or share. I’d love to chat in the comments so take some time and hang for a minute, leave me a little love note below and let’s talk about how we can effect change on a broader level.

xo, Alyssa.

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