Hello, and welcome to my very first blog! A little about me: I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up in Antioch, California, but I currently reside in San Diego. I’ve lived here since 2012 after joining the US Navy. I served aboard the USS Princeton CG-59 as an Operations Specialist, and that was an experience that opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I was honorably discharged from active duty in 2016 after deciding that it wasn’t for me, and haven’t looked back since. I felt like I had to suppress a large part of who I was to fit into the toxic environment, but I came out a stronger and wiser woman.
Now where it all started…
Photography has been a passion of mine since I picked up my first camera around age 8. My parents divorced when I was about 7, so my younger sister and I stayed with our mom primarily in the Bay Area and would visit our dad in SoCal whenever we were on break from school. We stayed with our grandparents when we would visit since our dad was on the road a lot as a trucker. My grandma, Bettie Marie, is who I thank for leading me to my passion. Grandma Bettie was a regional manager for Kodak/Konica from the ’80s to the late ’90s. She oversaw film processing and trained people on using some of the first self-serve photo kiosks. She always had film and cameras lying around her office, so I guess we could say my curiosity led me to what became a life-long obsession.
I started off with film, mainly disposable cameras since those were huge in the ’90s, and my grandma had what seemed like an endless supply. Photography provided me with on-the-go art in just a click of a button. Everywhere I went, I had a camera with me, snapping photos of anything that caught my eye. It was this insatiable feeling. Photography also became my outlet and my preferred method of storytelling since I’d always been socially anxious. Although I didn’t quite know what I was doing at first, seeing my work after processing helped me improve my skill early on. With film, I learned quickly that you only get so many exposures to get it right. Shooting film was how I learned to be a great photographer, long before I bought my first digital camera.
I begged my parents for years to buy me an SLR film camera. I was over disposable cameras and needed something better. I didn’t have wealthy parents, and photography wasn’t (still isn’t) cheap. My mom finally bought my first Canon SLR just in time for my first film photography class I took my senior year of high school in ’05. My teacher, Mr. Woo, convinced me that I had a unique vision and that I should pursue it professionally. I even did my senior project on black & white photography, but I had to put my dreams on hold because, as we all know, being an artist isn’t considered a “real job” by most. Over the years, I’ve attended college, joined the military, but the void was always there. I realize now that I gave up a large part of who I was to try to fit the status quo.
After my discharge from active duty in 2016, I went back to school and decided that I would become a nurse. I see myself as someone who is very compassionate and empathic, so I thought I would be a good fit. I buried myself in school as I readjusted to life as a civilian. When it came time to apply for nursing programs, I had a 3.9 GPA, got an 85 on the TEAS, became a Certified Nursing Assistant, CPR certified, the whole works. After working my ass off to get into nursing school, I realized that I wasn’t in the best shape. I’m a disabled veteran, and I suffer from several disabilities, both visible and invisible. I was also working through unhealed trauma I’d incurred throughout my entire life. What many people don’t realize is how physically and emotionally demanding the role of a nurse is. How could I put myself in the position to care for other people when I wasn’t in the best health myself? So after making the very tough decision to step away from nursing, I chose to go back to my first love, photography.
I started taking photography & digital imaging courses two years ago, and I’ve never felt so complete. I wish I had the opportunity to start sooner, but better late than never, right? I’m now in a place where I feel like I’m ready to put my work out into the world after holding it close to me for so long. It took working through my insecurities, self-doubt, and anxiety to get to the point where I am now. I’m still not completely comfortable with being so open with my work, but if I don’t put it out into the world, how will anyone ever see it? Also, how will I grow as an artist? I started this blog as a creative outlet because I realized that I have thousands of pictures with no home. I also like the idea of putting words alongside my photography. I share my photography through Instagram, but I find Instagram to be DRAINING (more on this later). I just want to create for the sake of creating, minus the competitive nature and pressure to create. I use my camera to document my experiences and share my unique perspective of life as it happens all around me.
I’m excited to finally share my passion with the world.
– Jazzmine Marie