A photographer, a magician, and a time traveler.

Kat is Levi's drum teacher at the School of Rock. When I first started photography, I asked almost everyone that I could find in my life to model for me, including neighbors that I met at the mailbox and on the poolside. Yes, I am quirky like that.

After one drum class at School of Rock, I asked Kat if she could model for me. She came to our apartment in Cornelius, which we rented at that time, with full makeup done and already looking gorgeous. It was my first classic fine art session, and she effortlessly pulled off the dress and classic look, appearing like a lady that had walked out of a painting. It was also the first time we talked outside of the teacher-parent setting. We spoke about ourselves, where we grew up, how we ended up here, and how we love God. She told me about her boyfriend Brandon, how sweet and kind he is, and even her grandma approved of him. She pulled him over to her sick bed and told him to take care of Kat before she passed away, which is the ultimate approval for both of them. It made me tear up. "That's beautiful! When you get engaged, I have to take your engagement photos!" I said, not knowing when it would happen, if I will be good enough to photograph her engagement session, also not knowing if I would still be doing photography at all in that unknown future.

I was not a photographer at that time. I shot in my dining room with flimsy backdrops, moved all the chairs and table against the wall to make space, used the cheapest lighting equipment I could find, and my beginner camera: Sony A6000 and a 35mm lens. But that day, we had so much fun. She played with my Erhu, a Chinese musical instrument that has two strings and sounds super sad, reminding you of a full moon on a cold winter night. When she wrapped herself in the drapy blue fabric that I prepared, the creases of the fabric naturally formed around her shoulder, and she looked like the Grecian noble lady in the painting that I envisioned. It was a dream come true session, I finally was able to create a photo that looks like oil painting from Renaissance, something I have always wanted to do. The background, the hair, the makeup, the costume, the chair, the girl. Were all perfect.

For a long period, she was the face of my website. She sat regally in the antique chair that I bought from Facebook Marketplace, wrapped in the beautiful sheer organza fabric, looking straight at you with her clear eyes, and baby's breath in her hair. I believe she still is the thumbnail of my website today.

It was May 8th, 2022.

Life was so busy that I lost track of time and lost track of how many times I begged my friends to model for me. I carried all my equipment in a luggage and went to my friends' houses to take their photos to practice, even carrying them with me when I flew with my two boys and my husband to New York and Washington DC. I carried the backdrop, backdrop holders, lights, light stands, camera, car seat, stroller, and our personal belongings onto the airplane just so I could set up my studio in my friends' houses. I was so busy that I lost track of all the hardship and self-doubts. I forgot how many times I said that I would give up photography and will just go work at Harris Teeter, but the next day, I picked myself up and then picked my camera up again, I lost track of the dead-ends and my breakdowns, until I found myself shooting Kat's engagement session.

Here I was, 303 sessions later, a brand-new photographer, being through flame and flood (at least that's how it felt like to me), finally not blushing when I tell people what my job is: "I am a photographer." I am glad I am still standing, still holding my camera, I finally felt worthy of capturing Kat's engagement session. I love how photography allows me to connect with people at a deeper level, how we grew together in our own individual path of life but reconnect again and share one same moment in our future. Our past, present, and future are all entwined.

Today is May 8th, 2023. Exactly 1 year later since our first model session, the session that opened a new era.

I can't wait to shoot Kat's wedding in April, 2024, and I can't wait to see what those 11 months of time can mold me and her into. Can't wait to meet the new me, and the new Kat. In a way, I felt like a magician and a time traveler.



当时的我不是一名摄影师。我在我的饭厅里拍摄,用着最单薄的背景布,我把所有的椅子和桌子都移到墙边腾出空间,使用我能买到的最便宜的灯光设备和我入门级的相机:Sony A6000和35毫米镜头。但那天我们玩得很开心。她玩着我的二胡,这是一种只有两根弦的中国乐器,听起来超级悲伤,让你想起一个清冷冬夜的满月。当她包裹在我准备的蓝色垂顺的布料中时,布料的褶皱自然形成在她的肩膀周围,她看起来就是我设想中的古希腊贵族少女。这是我一直想做的一张像文艺复兴时期的油画风作品。那背景,那发型,那妆容,那服饰,那张椅子,那位女孩,都是完美的。

很长一段时间里,她就是我的网站的形象代言人。她端坐在我在Facebook Marketplace上买的二手古董椅子上,裹着漂亮的纱,用清澈的眼神直视着你,头发上插着满天星。我相信她至今仍是我的网站缩略图。



303次拍摄后,我成为了一个崭新的摄影师,经历过洪水与火焰的洗礼 (至少我觉得是这样),我现在告诉别人我的工作是 “一个摄影师” 时不再害羞。我很高兴我还能站着,还能拿着相机,我终于感到自己有资格拍摄Kat的订婚照片。我喜欢摄影如何使我能够在更深层次上与人们建立联系,我们在各自的生命道路上一起成长,然后在未来的某个时刻再次相聚并分享同一个时刻。我们的过去、现在和未来都是交织在一起的。