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  • Writer's pictureAmy L Smith Photography

The Making of Me 2.0

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

My real journey, photographically speaking, began December 25, 2013, when I received a DSLR from my husband for Christmas. Like many of you, I had always had a camera and taken literally thousands of photos from college all the way through the childhood of my own kids…but this was a real camera. I was so intimidated and fascinated at the same time. I remember being almost afraid to touch it for fear of breaking something or messing it up somehow. It took me almost an entire year of getting fed up of being scared of a camera and not being able to produce images that I wanted to produce.

Summer of 2014, while enjoying time with friends at the lake, I was talking to one of those friends and she mentioned Clickin Moms to me. She said I should look into it – there are classes and workshops that are all online and super convenient. “It’s a really great community”. That friend is Kate Parker. Yes, THE Kate T. Parker of #strongisthenewpretty, before she became an international advocate for girls and boys alike. After talking to Kate that summer, I stalked the CM site for several months, and joined as a lifetime member in November of 2014. I immediately took the first of MANY workshops and set the goal of achieving Click Pro.

Rewind a couple of decades+, and there I was, an Interior Design student in college. I have always been into creating and crafty, arty things, so I figured that would be a great fit for me. After 3 semesters, I literally thought I would choke if I had to identify another baroque fabric or tell what historical era a column was from. Remember, this was the late 80’s, early 90’s and the “HGTV” and “DIY” movement had not yet come on to the scene. Rather, it was stuffy older women with their glasses at the ends of their noses and scarves tied around their necks with giant shoulder pads in their suit jackets. So, I couldn’t see myself in that role and transferred schools and changed my major to the other big part of my life, which is health and fitness. I majored in Health Sciences and Kinesiology and got my teaching certificate and became a health and physical education teacher. It was a good fit. I had always loved school myself, many of my teachers were amazing role models to me and teaching really appealed to me. It made perfect sense - one day when I (hopefully) had kids, I would be on their schedule, summers off and life would be great! So, creative me took a back seat…for the time being.

Fast forward back through the next couple of decades, and I was right, life was great! I married my college sweetheart, taught school for several years until we had our two sons and was so fortunate to be able to stay home with them all through their school years. Room mom, team mom, booster club, car pools…all day, every day. Summer vacations and school breaks couldn’t last long enough and any time my boys were at home was such a gift! All this time I dabbled in projects and whatnot to feed my creative side. I took thousands of photos of my boys, all are as precious as gold to me, but pretty much none of them are technically correct or “pretty” - ALL of them taken on “Auto”. You know what I mean…rarely taken in appealing light, never achieved creative DOF (if I did do something that ended up looking great, it was totally by accident!), composition lacked…the list goes on.

Time marches on. Several moves, deployments and job changes were added to our story. Suddenly, I found myself with two kids in high school and the realization that pretty soon – very soon, I was going to be filling a whole different role as “mom” to these guys. No more breakfasts to make, lunches to pack, laundry to do (yes, they were/are a bit spoiled, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat) games to attend, friends to host….I needed to figure out who I was, and who I was going to be -- and what I was going to do with myself in just a few short years?!

That camera I received, along with that conversation I had with Kate, changed my life. Literally. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but it couldn’t’ be more true.

Little did I know, finding and joining Clickin Moms would play such a major role in my life and has help facilitate the engineering of this new chapter in my life. It has been a sort of rebirth of me – a better version of me – Amy 2.0. -- But this isn’t just about me. It’s every woman, whether it’s a new mom with babies or toddlers; a mom with elementary school aged kids; or moms with tweens and teenagers getting ready to head off to college; even women who are not a mom, who may be at a point in their lives where they need some motivation or a new challenge…there is a chance you will get to this point one day – way quicker than you think. At some point, you will likely find yourself reflecting and trying to figure out who you’ve been, who you are and who you are going to be. Roles change – I have been “Mom” for 20+ years now….I will always be “Mom”, but now what?! – what does that mean for me now?! Concentrating more on myself and what I want to do – and not feeling guilty or selfish about it. There are countless ways I have grown in the last few years. Learning so much and engaging my brain after so many years of “just being Mom”. (I say “just being Mom” with the utmost pride and feeling of accomplishment anyone can possibly imagine…it’s the best and most important thing I have ever done, and I wouldn’t change one minute of it). From learning what the exposure triangle is and shooting in manual; learning and studying composition and the importance of those rules and that it’s okay to break them; learning several programs for editing images; learning how to look for and best utilize natural light; how to use artificial light; all of these disciplines have volumes of information and I know I have only scratched the surface. I also have made huge triumphant victories in my computer skills (just ask my husband, ha!...I do have much to learn in that department as well, but honestly, don’t we all to some degree?)

I have set and met many goals (the biggest personal accomplishment being earning Click Pro status Spring of 2017) and have many yet to achieve. I have SO much more to learn. I believe we all have learning to do, no matter the discipline you are studying or your skill level. We are all constantly evolving in so many ways. I have been fortunate to have been able to travel and shoot images of some amazing people and places along the way since I picked up that “real” camera and it’s only been 3.5 years! There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do what I’d like to do with my love and passion for photography, as I begin to explore different genres and creative outlets within photography. I ultimately would love to teach, mentor, and be involved in other’s journeys in some capacity. It is so special to watch someone have an “ah ha!” moment or obtain a goal, be it large or small, within their photographic journey.

I have to say, the biggest take-away thus far for me through these workshops, from “First Steps with your DSLR” and “Mastering Manual Exposure” to “Fine Art and Visual Expression”, the Clickin Moms forum (and community as a whole), Click Away retreats, and various groups I have been fortunate to be a part of, is that I have made incredible friendships and have gotten to meet and spend time with some amazing human beings. We are literally a part of one another’s lives on pretty much a daily basis, sharing milestones, destinations, dreams and other things that make us “us”. Having this bond of a common passion transcends distance and time. CM offers a way for those relationships to 1. happen, and 2. continue to grow and flourish.

The ONLY regret I have, is that I didn’t start this journey a long, long time ago. All of you young women who juggle family and your profession, I am in awe of you. You are rock stars. You may feel like you’re losing it from time to time. You may be counting the days until school starts again so that you can hear yourself think for more than a few minutes a day. That’s okay. We all have been there, at some point, for some reason or another. Or, you may be at the other end of the spectrum, begging time to s-l-o-w down and for your kiddos to stay little forever. My advice is to embrace every moment, good and bad, happy or sad…it will be over in what seems to be a blink of the eye, and your kids will grow, become more independent, and move on, just as you’ve raised them to do…and you likely will be faced with the reality of “what now”?! Surround yourself with amazing, resourceful, compassionate people who get it and support you! The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. You’ll figure out what that is and what it means to you. Things are always changing, and through it all, all you can do is be the best “you” that you can possibly be right now and enjoy the journey…have no fear…rest assured…there is life after “mommyhood”. Walk boldly out of that comfort zone. Embrace the changes as they come, that’s when true growth happens.

…So, on August 17, 2018, I moved my boys in at the University of Alabama and traveled 3,000+ miles away from them…they, embarking on the journey of their lives… and after all the dust settles, and tears stop flowing, so will I. Amy L Smith – 2.0.

Join ClickinMoms today!

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