My Come Up: Forrest Smith, Adventure Photographer

Photographers love to talk about how they got their first camera. For most photographers, this day marks their first timid step towards saying “fuck a day job” and allowing creativity to forge their path forward. It’s a rebellion of sorts. It’s kinda poetic.

To be honest I have no clue when I got my first camera. It was in high school, it was a Canon Rebel t3i, and it was promptly stolen from my possession. Damn.

I first started taking photography seriously in my sophomore year of college. My life was a mess. Between a break up, being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I knew it had a name, I just didn’t know what to call it) and a larger-than life existential crisis, it was safe to say this was my rock bottom. So I made a decision.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I did know something. I knew I loved creativity. I loved being outdoors. I loved people. And I wanted to travel.

I also owned a camera.

For the summer of 2016, I decided I would freelance photography. I literally had no clue what I was doing. Literally. I booked senior portrait sessions for dirt cheap and shot every sunrise and sunset for three months straight. I put a photo on Instagram a day, and focused on doing things that I wanted to do. My mental health got better. I felt happier. I had found my passion. And I was still broke as hell.

Over that summer I made as much money as I would have washing dishes at a local restaurant. That didn’t matter. For the first time in a while I cared about something and had a community that cared about what I was doing as well. My Instagram took off (don’t even ask, I have no clue how), and for the first time in my life it became feasible for me to support myself through doing something I wanted to do. Whenever people asked me what I’d been up to, I’d tell them I was turning “my passion into my profession”. I’m still working. The work never ends.

I’m still growing as an artist. As a photographer, so much of your ability to create relies on your story as a person. Your experience. Your vantage on life. I’m still finding what’s unique to me, and most of all, what I think is important.

My camera has given me the ability to speak to people. I believe I’m here for a reason, and at this point I’m just working to find the words to tell you why.

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