When I Knew I Wanted to be a Photographer

As a young child, pursuing a career path in the arts and creative industry never seemed to cross my mind. Not because I lacked interest or talent, but because education’s guidance always seemed to mark such paths as hobbies, passions and not so much a true professional endeavor. Teachers encouraged more practical subjects such as math, science or politics – careers that were sensible, stable and allowed you to make a proper living.  

Yet, despite such advice at school – my home life told a different story. I grew up the daughter of an entertainer and entrepreneur. Having never seen my father put on a suit and head to the office, I was surrounded by his influence of casting aside the corporate path to pursue your creativity. My father told jokes on stage at night while he and my mom ran a self-made, successful business by day. Little did I know that my familial surroundings would eventually push me toward a life of entrepreneurial creativity.

As the time for college approached, I had little knowledge of what degree to pursue. Photography had piqued my interest since I was 14; as a source of memory collecting, documenting family trips and weekend photoshoots with friends. Through a series of point and shoot cameras, to my first DSLR at 16, collecting lenses and cameras as the years continued – I regarded it as my hobby and passion, but never felt that it held the sensibility needed to pursue it as a career. And so, I studied advertising with a blatant lack of interest for four years, received my diploma and like most post-graduates, had no idea what I would do next.  

It wasn’t until I spent a year abroad in Paris after graduation, documenting the lives of myself and my friends, that I realized I wanted to take the leap into the photography world. I was living in a city that I had never been to prior to moving. With such a fresh, new experience – it was unlike anything I had encountered back home in the States. I was endlessly inspired by the culture, the lifestyle and the people I had met from all parts of the world.

Framing my subject in the background of their new French life, allowed me to tell a story behind the lens. I had always been drawn to photographing people as an extension of my understanding of the human experience. For me, the complexity of capturing emotion, personality and the essence of your subject through a simple photograph is what made the medium a pillar of my adolescence and adulthood. It was through these motions and movements, that I knew I wanted to pursue my craft – to turn my passion into a profession.

Photo by Shannon Ciricillo

Making the decision to build a career in the artistic field was a choice that I knew would come with trials and tribulations. Although my jump into photography was driven by my interest and need to creatively express myself – I never looked at this career with blissful naivety. I was fully aware that the road I had chosen would be more difficult than my corporate counterparts, that a life as a freelancer and self-employed individual would mean preparing for inconsistency and working three times as hard as everyone else to achieve my goals.

I think that so often, the idea of making your passion into your profession is regarded as unrealistic, a pipe dream that suggests we don’t understand the responsibilities and complexities of growing up and embracing adulthood. For some people, having their creative pursuits remain in the realm of hobbies and after work activities works. Looking at artistic passions as something that can be a supplement outside your “real career” is enough for some people. But, it’s not enough for me.

Before I even decided I was a photographer, I always knew I was a visual person. I saw the world through specific frames, stimulated by creating and capturing moments that sat in my memory as snapshots of life. Understanding the way I comprehend and envision the world around me, allowed me to find a career path that was stimulating and meaningful.

Photo by Shannon Circillo

The best choice you can make in your career and life is to chase after what gives you purpose. The idea and concept of traditional careers are being broken down and reimagined every day in our progressive society. Being an artist, a creator has never been easier, more businesses are being imagined and built to strengthen and build the creative community – the world is rewarding people who have a vision, voice, and direction.

The road to being a photographer, videographer, model or makeup artist is unique and different for each of us. The inspiration and choice to chase after your dream may have come at a young age, through trial and error of other career paths or even still in the works – waiting to be revealed. Whichever way you discover and determine your creative journey, it will be because with unyielding passion you wanted it, worked for it and decided that no matter what it takes – you would never settle for anything less. Because like all of us here at H – you will always be a creator first.